An impressive 120ft catamaran is currently under development for competing in the biggest sailing event yet, starting at the end of the year 2000. The catamaran is being tested to withstand unpredictable sailing conditions with a 1/10th scale engineering model being used to validate the design theory.
An important part of the design process is the precise measurement of the mast/rig loads and the mast/sail interaction to evaluate whether the actual loads match those predicted. To simulate wind conditions the model was attached to a Land Rover and strain gauges, supplied by Measurements Group UK, were connected to shear load cell bodies positioned at the base of the mast.
Strain gauges were installed at various points on the mast to measure the strain caused by the mast bending in two axis. A data acquisition system was set up in the Land Rover. Data was compared with theoretical figures calculated for the full size rig.