Glenmar Sailing Association
Sailing the Chesapeake Bay

GSA Burgee

The distinguishing flag of GSA is composed of a black air foil surrounded by a thin yellow slip stream and laid onto a field of blue (as in sky).  The exact wording is “The burgee shall be triangular in shape and shall consist of a black airfoil section, such section to be outlined by a band of bright yellow, and the whole to appear on a blue-gray field.”  Presumably, this comes from about 1965.  Although the club was founded in 1947 by a group of employees at the Martin Company, it was not incorporated in Maryland until 1965.  Because the Martin Company was all about airplane flying, it is appropriate that the club burgee would be an airfoil.

Importantly, there was never an official artistic rendering of the burgee. Nor did anyone, nor any document state that the colors were to be given in PMS, CMYK, RGB, or HEX. Currently, I only have four versions available. One is the burgee which is manufactured and given to new members. The other three are artistic renderings. There have undoubtedly been others, but they are not available. Unfortunately, I do not have artist credits. We do not know who drew these? If you know of another image, or know the artist, leave a comment below.

Despite these ramblings, I do have a comment about the airfoil.  It seems to me that it is too symmetrical.  That is, if we built it, it wouldn’t fly.  The thing about an airfoil is that it must be asymmetrical so that air will flow around it going further in one direction than in the other.  Here is a sketch of some historical foils.  This came from   (Link only so that I do not use their copyrighted material.)  If you follow the link and look at these foils, you will see that none are symmetrical.

Should we consider a slight design change to reduce the symmetry? Our founders might not have approved of an airplane wing that wouldn’t fly, considering that they came from one of the greatest American flight manufacturers of all time.

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2 comments on “GSA Burgee”

  • TodAOh says:

    While you are, of course, technically correct, there is a cost to making the correction. We would need to create a new burgee which would make the existing ones dated. Is it worth the cost? I don’t really think so. We can consider the current one a cartoonish artistic conception rather than a technically correct rendition. That change doesn’t come with a cost!

  • BillL says:

    Actually, the foil sections on our boats are completely symmetrical, as shown. (While I don’t have full size aircraft experience, I am aware of aerobatic model aircraft with fully symmetrical wing sections.) Lift in these symmetrical foils is created when the air approaches from slightly above or below the wing centerline, aka Angle of Attack. If the wind, or water, approaches from slightly below the centerline, the flow distance over the top is greater than the flow under the bottom. Thus, lift is generated in the upward direction. Similarly, if the flow approaches from slightly above, then the flow path is longer under the foil, and the lift is in the downward direction. So, it is possible to generate lift, and fly, with a symmetrical wing. The wing flies equally well whether upright or inverted, so long as there is some angle of attack to the wind.

    But, sailboat foils (cb and rudder) are not horizontal. They are mounted vertically. So, how does that work? When the rudder is centered, the flow is symmetrical around the rudder and there is no turning effect. But, when the skippers pulls the helm, the rudder turns away. The water flow strikes the leeward side of the foil. Flow is then longer and faster over the weather side. This generates a lifting force, on the weather side, that literally pulls the stern to weather. So, a rudder with a foil shape is much more efficient at turning the boat, as changing the angle of attack results in a lifting force that pulls the stern in one direction or the other. The cb acts similarly, except that it is not turning under the boat. However, it is possible to sail the boat to optimize lift from the cb which helps to reduce the sideways crab of the wind against the hull and sails, and can help to “lift” the boat to weather.

    … Long winded, but the foil is correct as shown. No change is needed. – WL