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Introductory Mechanics
Problems Laboratory
1
Yacht Racing
Goals: Use vectors graphically and
numerically. Identify the relations between
vectors, coordinate systems, and
trigonometry.
PROBLEM
Yacht racing is a sport as old as sailing ships. Modern yacht racing is an international
sport that combines skill with the boat and an understanding of winds and currents. As a
scientist you’ve been asked to consult as a navigator for a racing team (picture N. Wil
son/ALLSPORT from the 2000 Olympics).
The race course consists of two buoys at opposite ends of the course. The total course
length is 10 nautical miles (real courses may go back and forth a number of times). The
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Yacht Racing
orientation of the course and the direction of the wind are shown in the following figure.
Your job is to use vectors to find the best direction to point the boat going out and back.
PROBLEM SKILLS
Many problems include numerical values. In general, when we set up problems we
should assign variables to each numerical value in the problem. There are a number of
good reasons to do this. It is easier to see the form of the equation when physical quanti
ties are left as variables. If there are terms that exactly cancel, variables make that clear.
It is usually easier to misplace a number than a variable, so solving equations with vari
ables is less prone to error. In the end the numeric values can be inserted inplace of the
variables to get a numeric result.
This laboratory uses vectors. A vector is a quantity that expresses direction as well as
magnitude. Position, velocity and acceleration can all be expressed by vectors. There
are two ways to express vectors  graphically and by components.
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This note was uploaded on 10/02/2009 for the course PHYS 253 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Northern Illinois University.
 Spring '08
 staff
 mechanics

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