How Can Cata­ma­rans “Fly” Above The Wa­ter?

What makes cata­ma­rans able to take off and fly above the wa­ter? And is this at all in­ten­tional, when it hap­pens dur­ing a race?

Science Illustrated - - ASK US -

Dur­ing sail­ing races, it is not un­com­mon to see cata­ma­rans fly above the sur­face of the wa­ter, sail­ing a long dis­tance with­out the two hulls be­ing in con­tact with the wa­ter. A cata­ma­ran is equipped with dag­ger­boards – a type of right-an­gled wings, which reach into the wa­ter un­der the two hulls. As the cata­ma­ran gains speed, the wa­ter is forced to flow around the wing in such a way that a pres­sure dif­fer­ence is pro­duced which is suf­fi­ciently sig­nif­i­cant to carry the boat’s weight above the wa­ter.

The dag­ger­boards, which can be raised and low­ered, are lo­cated around the cen­tres of the two hulls. The aim of the crew is to steer the cata­ma­ran, so the hull avoids con­tact with the wa­ter sur­face, if pos­si­ble. Dur­ing Amer­ica’s Cup, a cata­ma­ran can reach speeds of about 50 knots or some 90 km/h.

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