Remote Measurement Technology for Sail Shape Determination

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: IESSG


A fundamental technology for recording and analysing the performance of sailing dinghies is the camera. This is particularly important in high performance sailing. This may be a video or a digital camera to enable sailor, sail shape, sail setting, boat and environmental interaction to be recorded, analysed and discussed. Simple video image capture and post sailing analysis can help the coach and sailor understand the complex interaction at an instant in time or over a period of time if assessing a particular manoeuvre. In addition to the benefits of general visual observation of a sailing video there is the potential to use video and digital cameras to scientifically assess the event captured; research in this area has not been fully exploited.There have been significant developments in imaging technologies over the recent few years as well as increases in computer power. High-resolution digital cameras and digital video camcorders are now available at decreasing costs. Ideally, the requirement is: a method for measuring sail shape and related boat performance on the water for, training athletes and for monitoring equipment performance. This is an extremely complex and difficult science and engineering problem to solve. Is it feasible to create a methodology to undertake this task? This high level of scientific analysis of performance has not been available in the past.It is proposed as a first step towards fulfilling the ideal requirement to undertake a feasibility study taking the state of the art imaging technology and processing available in the IESSG and applying it to this novel application area. There has been little research in the past undertaken with dinghies, it has mainly been undertaken on larger yachts. Of particular novelty is the concept of taking images from a following support vessel. Scientific problems of overcoming potentially extremely poor camera configuration geometry, large depths of field, and achieving measurements on 'soft', possibly transparent or monochrome surfaces, are challenging, leading to potentially novel solutions. Ground based laser scanning is a very new technology and will be used to measure the static sail shape, due to its slow speed of measurement of the whole sail and it's size, it is only viable on land and with a static sail but this novel application may prove to be useful for sail quality control. The testing of methodologies and remote measurement technology can be undertaken in a static land based test site. It is expected that the research into applying the findings in a marine and operational environment will be the focus for a follow-on research project.


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