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Sailboat propeller drag

MacKenzie, P.M. and Forrester, M.A. (2008) Sailboat propeller drag. Ocean Engineering, 35 (1). pp. 28-40. ISSN 0029-8018

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All but the smallest classes of modern keelboats are fitted with inboard engines and consequently, when making way under sail, the craft experience parasitic drag due to trailing propellers and associated appendages. The variety of screw configurations used on sailing boats includes fixed-blade, feathering, and folding set-ups, with blades numbering two or three. Although the magnitude of the resultant drag is thought to have a significant influence on sailing performance, the published literature having regard to this problem is sparse. Here, the aim was to evaluate the drag effect of fixed-blade propellers of types commonly used on sailing craft. The results of towing tank tests on full-scale propellers are presented for the locked shaft condition; these are presented along with reconfigured data from the few previously published sources. For the case in which the propeller is allowed to rotate, tests were conducted on a typical screw with a range of braking torques being applied. It was hypothesised that the performance coefficients of the Wageningen B-Screw Series could be used to characterise adequately the types of screw of interest and that these could be extrapolated to enable prediction of the drag of a freewheeling propeller; an assessment of this formed part of the investigation.