In 2015, Chalmers became a National Sports University with sailing as one of three profile areas. This was the starting point of several collaborations within Chalmers and through collaboration with SSPA. It has given Chalmers international visibility through scientific publications, participation in projects and involvement in arranging international conferences.
Professor Lars Larsson at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences has worked with yacht design for decades and believes that the new professorship provides an opportunity for Chalmers to become a world leader in sailing research. Sailing research in the world has so far been driven by America's Cup, which Lars describes as the Formula 1 of sailing. Wind tunnels intended for sailing research have been the centre of the world's sailing research for many years, but the wind of change is blowing.
“The numerical research within fluid dynamics have reached so far that calculations of sailing performance now are as accurate as model tests. Therefore, Chalmers' focus on calculations will enable us to take the lead” says Lars Larsson.
There is no other Professor in the world with sailing as a significant part of the professorship, so the possibilities of profiling Chalmers as a world leader in sailing research are good, he says. But the professorship is much more than just sailing. Jonas Ringsberg is Professor and head of the Division of Marine Technology at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences. He is one of those who has been a driving force for a new professorship and says that Chalmers today lacks a professorship in the area where one can connect hydro and aerodynamics in advanced numerical simulations. Something that has several application areas in addition to sailing such as floating wind power, floating wave power plants, floating bridges and wind-assisted propulsion of commercial vessels.
“We think that the professorship will contribute to the UN's global sustainability goals. Wind-assisted propulsion of commercial vessels helps to reduce fuel consumption and thus also emissions to air and research on wave power plants and floating wind turbines can increase the proportion of production of renewable energy to our society, says Jonas Ringsberg.
Another person who has worked to get the professorship in place is Christian Finnsgård. First in the role of project manager for Chalmers Sports and Technology, now research director at SSPA. In order for the applications to become reality, collaboration is the key and SSPA is an important piece of the puzzle. Chalmers is strong in calculations and structural analysis and SSPA within its method development and experimental infrastructure. Christian Finnsgård says that the world's focus on sailing research moves against Chalmers and SSPA who get the chance to show their competencies and take the lead in the field. Moreover, this means that there will be further focus on maritime research, which is good for SSPA.
“With the development we now see in society with an increased focus on energy efficiency and fossil-free energy, which are both parts of SSPA's core business, sailing can contribute enormously. We run both research projects and projects for partners where we develop the methodology for how to calculate and test vessels that use sails for propulsion, even sails as their main propulsion. These are large projects that help shipping to a more sustainable future" says Christian Finnsgård.