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Sailboats are a great type of vessel as they don't require much fuel to go long distances. Sailboats use wind resistance against the sails to push the boat forward. The concept seems simple enough, but what actually keeps a small boat with a giant sail upright? On the smallest sailboats, its skill and the ability of the sailor to properly regulate the amount of wind entering and leaving the sail. On the larger boats it's actually the ballast and/or keel that counterweight the pressure in the sails.
The keel is actually an extension of the sailboat's hull that stretches down and is filled with lead or heavy steel. Its primary purpose is to allow the boat to track a straight line while keeping it parallel enough to the surface to catch the wind in its sails. Because weight and resistance are an issue, the keel had to be eliminated. Many companies came out with some interesting designs. In general sailboats are a great design little can be done to improve, though there are always those who find ways of pushing them further.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|