The Yacht Research Unit Kiel (YRU), a research group at FuE-Zentrum FH Kiel GmbH, has been conducting research and development in the field of hydromechanics of sailing yachts for many years. One of its core areas of expertise is the investigation and optimisation of appendage systems (keel, rudder). Dr.-Ing. Kai Graf, Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, has developed innovative methods and techniques in recent years.
The ocean regatta Volvo Ocean Race was won by the racing yacht Illbruck, and her success was thanks in part to this applied research and development. Illbruck-Pinta GmbH, Illbruck's owner, was able to benefit from the research results based on a contract for collaboration with FuE-Zentrum FH Kiel GmbH.
Computer flow simulations were conducted at the Yacht Research Unit Kiel on the ship's hull and its appendages, keel and rudder, and results were used in its construction. These methods enable the hydrodynamic forces acting on the appendages to be determined and form the basis for shape optimisation. The results of the simulations were evaluated experimentally in the towing tank at the laboratory for hydrodynamics in shipbuilding at the Kiel University of Applied Sciences, using scaled-down models, with a finishing tolerance of less than 0.02 millimetres. This modern technology permits the investigation of numerous conditions during sailing. The hydrodynamic data collected in this way allow predictions of speed for any given course angle and wind speed.