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RC Wing Sailboat Project Page

Page history last edited by Nikolas Osvalds 11 years, 6 months ago


Radio Controlled Rigid Wing Sailed Catamaran Nikolas Osvalds



Formal Project Proposal


Weekly Design Reports


Full Timesheet



Project Summary


        The cutting edge of exciting technologies and trends in high performance sailing are moving from traditional soft sails toward hard wing designs. The wing sail however is not easily accessible to the average sailing enthusiast due to costs and lack of available plans. Being both a fan of engineering and sailing I want a chance to experience wing sailing myself and help others do the same. Therefore I am proposing to design a radio controlled hard wing sailed catamaran where the process and plans are readily available to anyone who wants to try out wing sailing. Throughout the design and manufacture of the hard wing I will take measures to make sure it is accessible to the average sailor (with some fabricating skill). I will start with a cheap RC catamaran and design the wing to power it. Second I will make sure that it is reasonably affordable, easy to build, and that the materials I utilize are readily available. Finally I will consider the optimum way to trim the rigid wing on the boat. Using these criteria I hope to bring a hands on view and understanding of this new and exciting sailing technology to more people. 




     In the world of sail boat racing a majority of the sail set ups are all the same sloop rig configuration with a main sail held up by the mast and boom, a jib sail flown off the forestay in front of the mast, and large spinnakers for downwind sailing. The America’s cup is one of the oldest sporting challenges in history and represents the cutting edge of technology of the sport. Hundreds of millions of dollars every couple of years is poured into designing and building large, complex, and fast boats. In the latest edition of the America’s Cup, the 33rd running, the American team of BMW Oracle racing easily won back the cup with an amazing 90ft Trimaran (three hulled boat) powered by a massive hard wing sail that could obtain speeds up to twice the true wind speed. The next edition of the cup is set to feature smaller AC45 (45ft) hard wing sailed boats for preliminary racing, and then larger A72 hard wing sailed boats for the big show. Below are some links that will familiarize the reader with the wing sailed boats from previous and future Americas Cup.





Recap of the Design + Build for the 33rd Cup

Video of BMW Oracles boat sailing before cup

Video of New AC45


     Fixed wing sailing represents the future of the sport however it is currently rather inaccessible to the everyday sailor. There are few one design classes that utilize the wing the most notable being the C-class catamaran. However, these boats cost in the 10’s of thousands of dollars, and most are designed and built by the sailors themselves. Then again all classes of sailing are rather expensive. The 4.2m two-person dinghies’ we use in college are around $8500 new. Club 420 Sailboat 


C- Class Catamaran "Alpha" Wing                                                                                A C-Class Catamaran Sailing

     Being passionate about sailing and engineering I want a way to experience what wing sailing is all about and I’m sure many other sailors do too. So I thought that a much more accessible form of sailing would be Radio Controlled sailing. The small scale and cheap electronics make the least expensive kits available for around $100. However after searching the Internet extensively there is no commercially available radio controlled hard wing sailboat. Looking further there aren’t even any basic plans anywhere to be found. I think this is a problem for the accessibility of the sport as a whole. For people to get excited and understand more about hard wing sailing they need to be able to experience it themselves. This is the problem I will attempt to solve in my ENGN 1000 project. 






There are very few examples of Radio Controlled wing sail boats out there. Below are some pictures and links that demonstrate these builds.


2 element symmetrical airfoil design for a "landyacht." Doesn't meet my requirements as there are no available plans. Also this wing is designed for hard land use not sailing. 


Above are pictures from a project someone named MC did in Valencia, Spain. Looks like an awesome Boat for someone to learn how to use a wing sail on. However, it is pretty big and made of expensive materials like carbon fiber. There are also no available plans only these 4 pictures. Here is the link  RCsailingForum.


The following link is to Peter Worsely's website about his endeavors in wing sailing. There is somewhat more documentation but no plans. The boats are rather large and aren't designed on the same principle of the modern rigid wing racing boats.



     One of the most successful RC wing sailboats was designed and built by Francis Reynolds in the 1950's. It was extensively designed and optimized through 60 plus tests in a University of Washington wind tunnel. There are no available plans for this boat or wing sail.


Intellectual Property


There are many patents for wing sail designs. They should be helpful when it comes to designing the wing control system for the RC boat.


"Wing Sail" Robert Fuller



"Wing sail and Method of Use"  Mladen Milidragovic



Proposed Solution


         I propose to buy an existing radio controlled catamaran sailboat for which I will design, build and optimize a hard wing sail. Some of the objectives I wish to meet are listed below.

·      Build working wing for existing catamaran

o   Optimized for specific boat

o   Easy to control, user friendly

o   Durable         

·      Make the plans accessible to other interested in rigid wing sails

o   Should be relatively easy to build

§  Non-exotic materials, electronics and assembly techniques

o   Should be reasonably cheap

·      Performance Specifications

o   Faster than traditional sails




Victor Wildcat RC Catamaran




Final Accessibility Requirements


  • Materials and construction techniques should be available to the normal person with basic shop skills.
    • i.e. no $1000+ hot wire foam cutter, carbon fiber
  • Plans to construct the wing sail should be easy to find and understand.



Final Performance Requirements

  • For apparent wind angles of 0-90deg (0 deg is in the direction of motion of the cart), the wing sail should create at least 50% more forward pulling force on the cart than the soft sail.


  • The wing sail should be able to create forward pulling force on the cart at closer apparent wind angles than the soft sail.


     After some research and thought I decided that the performance of the wing versus the soft sail was the most comparable at apparent wind angles of less than 90deg. At any larger angle than this the soft sail is not creating lift, and will naturally produce more force than the wing because of its larger sail area. Even with this bring true, the wing should still out perform the soft sail while on the water. The reason for this has to do with the apparent wind. Apparent wind is the wind that is felt by the sail when moving through the water and takes into account the velocity of the vessel as well. The true wind is what is felt by a person standing on land or not moving on the water. 


     Taking this phenomenon into account, as soon as the catamaran with the wing starts moving forward quickly the apparent wind angle will move forward as well. I assume that the speed of the catamaran will move the apparent wind to 90 degrees or less. Therefore as long as the wing outperforms the soft sail at less than 90deg apparent wind, it should technically outperform it at most points of sail. This may not be true going dead downwind. However the winged boat may be able to make as much or more downwind process by broad reaching and zig zagging to sail to a point downwind.

     Since the apparent wind angle moves forward when going forward it is also important that the boat can sail at close apparent wind angles. This is why I set the second requirement that the wing be able to create forward force at closer angles to the wind than the soft sail. The ability to sail close angles to the wind is also very important when trying to sail to a point up wind.





Click Below for

First Prototype


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