Return to my homepage.Return to my homepage Return to my home schooling page.Return to my home schooling page Copyright © Nels Tomlinson 2004, 2005

Books and Book Reviews


Books and Radio Shows

Access to Books

Get the Goon Shows

Boat Building and Design

Cruising Books


Home Schooling

My Other Pages

Boats and Boat Stuff

Back to my homepage

Homeschooling Page

Bibliography of homeschooling research

Search My Site


Search Now:

Review and comparison of The Aerohydrodynamics of Sailing and The Design of Sailing Yachts

Under construction, 15 July 05. I'll be right back.

Are either of these books for you?

If you're looking for a book which tells you how to get the idea out of your head and onto paper, I recommend Kinney's ``Skeene's Elements of Yacht Design'' (8th edition) and Chappelle's ``Yacht Designing and Planning''. Both give enough advice about how to draw a boat that you can do it, and both give enough advice about what to draw that you should be able to avoid making an unusable, dangerous freak. You'll find my review of them on my Chappelle and Skeen page.

If you want to know the ``why'' behind the ``what to draw'', and if you don't mind a bit of elementary, applied math and physics, these books are what you're looking for.

The Common Topic

Aerohydrodynamics and Design are about applied aero- and hydro-dynamics. That's covered a bit in every undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum, but these books cover the specifics of applying the science to sailing yachts. Fluid dynamics is a mathematical, computationally messy subject, and it's not amenable to a simple, non-mathematical treatment. You'll find that both books assume a certain familiarity with the basics of undergraduate math, statics and dynamics, but each, in it's own way, introduces the specifics you need, as needed. You don't have to be an engineer to read these (I think), but I'm sure that it helps.

These books give an overview of the fluid dynamics problems the yacht designer faces, and teach the basic principles of fluid dynamics and the specifics of how to apply them in yacht design. Even if you're a mechanical or aeronautical engineer, I think that the specifics these books present will be important, new information. If fluid mechanics is a new area for you (as it is for me), the material in these books is going to be vital.

The Books

Both Aerohydrodynamics and Design introduce the basic problems of yacht design: the forces of wind and waves which act on the boat.


The Design of Sailing Yachts

Pierre Gutelle

Where to find it:

Not in the public domain.
Buy it used at Design of Sailing Yachts

Table of Contents

  • The environment of the sailing boat. 20 pages
    • Air and wind
    • Water and waves
  • Aero- and Hydrodynamics 26 pages
  • Equilibrium of a sailing boat 10 pages
    • Equilibrium in a following wind
    • Equilibrium when close-hauled
  • Stability 26 pages
    • Transverse stability
    • Longitudinal stability
  • Hydrodynamic Forces 39 pages
    • Resistance when there is no leeway
    • Planing
    • Side force
  • Aerodynamic forces 30 pages
    • Parasitic forces
    • Real useful forces
    • The different rigs
  • Movement in waves 22 pages
    • Combined polar diagrams
    • Directional stability
  • Combination of Hull/sails and balance 17 pages
  • Greek alphabet and transliteration 1 page
  • A short glossary of mechanics and physics 1 page
  • Conversion tables 1 page


This is the poor man's Aerohydrodynamics of Sailing. It's the poor man's version because it costs (used; it's out of print) about 1/3 what Marchaj's cannonical tome costs, and because it covers less material in less detail. That's unavoidable, since it has 208 pages, compared to 768 for Marchaj's 3rd edition. That lack of bulk may not be as disasterous as it sounds: some of the extra bulk of Aerohydrodynamics of Sailing is pictures, case studies and opinion. Gutelle does cover much of the same material, and his work has the advantage of a simpler presentation.

This book is written like an undergraduate text book, and is a bit less demanding of the reader than Marchaj's book. There is definitely more to recommend this book than low price and light weight. Gutelle has done a good job of covering the material and of getting it across, and the lack of breadth and detail enables him to give a slightly clearer, more straight-forward exposition.

The Aero-hydrodynamics of Sailing

Tony Marchaj

Where to find it:

Not in the public domain.
Buy it at Aerohydrodynamics of Sailing

Table of Contents

  • Fundamental factors governing yacht performance 151 pages
    • Forces and geometry of sailing to windward
    • Sail/hull interaction in strong and light winds
    • Centreboard or finkeel efficiency
    • optimum course to windward
    • Stability effect on performance
    • All-round performance
    • Highspeed sailing
    • Land and hardwater sailing craft
  • Basic principles of aero-hydrodynamics: aerofoil and hydrofoil action 316 pages
    • Elementary concepts and assumptions
    • Darg-viscosity phenomena
    • Reynolds number and scale effect
    • Three-dimensional foils
  • Research on sails: practical implications 204 pages
    • Speed performance prediction: scope and limiting factors
    • Sail design in general
    • How and why sail forces are determined
    • Wind tunnel results: factors affecting the sail forces and their effects
    • References and notes 3 pages
    • Appendix 1. Conversion factors, symbols and definitions 10 pages
    • Appendix 2. Are winged keels a great invention 24 pages
    • Appendix 3. Highspeed sailing 18 pages
    • Appendix 4. Methods of performance prediction 20 pages
    • Index 12 pages

    You can read the full table of contents at Amazon.


    This book is the cannonical tome on the subject. It's a big book by one of the elder statesmen of the field. Marchaj shows the depth of his experience in the many reports of wind tunnel tests and real-world experiences which he uses to illustrate the theory.

    The book is written like a typical graduate text, in that it assumes that the reader is strongly motivated, and is willing and able to pick up any information he needs as he goes along. This book demands a bit more of the reader than Gutelle's book, and has the potential to deliver a lot more in return.


Both of these books are more-or-less mathematical treatments of applied aero- and hydro-dynamics. This is a very technical, rather demanding subject, and it requires one to be comfortable with thinking like an engineer. Both these books do a fair job of teaching the basics of fluid dynamics, and both do an excellent job of teaching how to deal with the special concerns of the naval architect.

If you must get only one ...

If you want to learn this subject in depth, href="">Aerohydrodynamics is probably the better choice, since it has far more detail, wider coverage, more references to the source materials, and more a magisterial approach.

If you want an introduction, but don't feel the need to become an expert, Design is probably the best choice. It's a bit cheaper, and a bit less demanding. You won't really miss what this book leaves out: you'll get the basics.

For self study ...

For self-study, it's probably worth while to get both of these. If you have trouble following Marchaj, you may find that Gutelle clears things up, or the other way around. Also, good as Marchaj's book is, it's good to have a second opinion.

Return to my homepage.Return to my homepage Return to my home schooling page.Return to my home schooling page
Hosted by