Science Checks the Art of Boat Building
FARO Laser Tracker
Good sailing is a matter of balance, experience, instinct and skill, especially in one-design racing, when all the boats are identical. In these events, each boat must conform to its class rules for dimensions, weight, shape and displacement.
The 2004 Olympic Regatta in Athens marked the first appearance of the Yngling-class boats in the women's keelboat event. The fiberglass hulls of these boats are 6.355 meters long, employ an iron keel for stability and are rated to carry up to 500 pounds. The compound curves of a keelboat are not easy to measure with conventional mechanical implements, and a quarter-inch less girth could reduce drag enough to give one boat an advantage.
A metrology consultant from the heartland of American competitive sailing--Newport, Rhode Island--has found a way to make sure that all the boats are evaluated the same way. Andrew Williams, founder of 3D Measure, uses the FARO Laser Tracker, a laser-based coordinate measuring machine, to trace complex hull shapes.