There are two sailboats going to weather in a breeze. They have identical waterline lengths, and identical sail plans, with an identical main and a jib on each boat. Both are in identical true windspeed, in clear air, in the same sea state, temperature, etc., and their sails are trimmed for maximum efficiency. But the sheet loads on one of the boats are fully four times the sheet loads on the other. How can this be?
There are several possible answers that we know of, and probably several more that you creative puzzle-solvers will come up with. Send your answer(s) to Puzzle Contest by noon, Pacific time, April 30th. In case the link doesn’t work for you, that address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t post your answers online. We will randomly choose a winner from among the sufficiently realistic entries, and announce the winner on May 2nd. Our Fabulous Prize this week: a copy of my book, The Rigger’s Apprentice, complete with suitable inscription and autograph.
On a separate note, thanks to all of you who were in touch to say that you liked my most recent article, To Engineer Is Human. You can find it and other posts and puzzles in this site’s Blog section. In the near future, I’ll be posting some Special Guest Articles, so stand by.
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