DWFTTW | Down Wind Faster Than The Wind

Is it possible to go downwind faster than the wind, in a wind-powered car (or vehicle)?

Maybe we have a definitive answer as reported on PhysOrg.com:

(PhysOrg.com) — A wind-powered car has been clocked in the US traveling down wind faster than the wind. In a recent run at New Jerusalem in Tracy, California, the car reached a top speed of more than 2.85 times faster than the wind blowing at the time (13.5 mph) powered by the wind itself. The run should now settle the DWFTTW (down wind faster than the wind) debate that has been raging for some time on the Internet about whether or not such a feat was possible.

At the start, before the car is moving, the wind is coming from behind the car (as you’d expect). The wind vane / weather vane I’ve circled in the picture is attached to a mast or pole on the front of the car. It points towards the wind… obvious, but look at the next picture.

Before the car is moving, the wind is coming from behind the car (as you'd expect).

This image, of the car making a “high speed” run is pretty telling… check out the wind direction as indicated by a wind vane (weather vane) and orange ribbon atop a mast attached to the car (yellow circle). Again, the wind vane is pointing towards the wind. At first the wind vane pointed toward the back of the car. In this picture the vane is pointing forward… meaning that the car is going fast enough that the wind is apparently coming from the front of the car. The car is going faster than the wind blowing at it from behind.

Notice the wind direction as indicated by a wind vane (weather vane) and orange ribbon atop a mast attached to the car (yellow circle).

For more pictures and the story of how this vehicle was built and tested see Ride Like the Wind (only faster) at fasterthanthewind.org.

(Thanks to “Google-Backed Wind-Powered Car Goes Faster Than the Wind”, via Slashdot: Google-Backed Wind-Powered Car Goes Faster Than the Wind.)

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