Could You Break the Record for an Ocean Sailboat Race?
ES2407  Sailing the Oceans

For thousands of years, people have been sailing across the oceans and around the world. Knowledge of ocean currents and wind patterns has allowed people to reliably reach their destinations even after crossing huge expanses of open ocean.

In this photograph, a sailboat uses wind and currents to move among the islands of Micronesia. Before modern navigational techniques were developed, navigators in the South Pacific relied on stick charts to indicate island locations relative to winds and currents.

  !   Move your cursor over the sailboat image to see an illustration of a stick navigational chart.

Today, racing sailboats is a sport, and teams test their skills by racing around the world. Navigation now relies on satellites, but knowledge of wind patterns, ocean currents, and potential obstacles in unfamiliar waters is still essential for sailing.

In this investigation, you'll plot a course for racing around the world in a sailboat. You'll explore some of the obstacles you might encounter on your route; then you'll have the opportunity to revise your route to improve your speed.

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