TRUE OR FALSE: Less suit is less drag
FALSE. As aero experts, we go by the motto: the wind doesn’t like skin. By extension, covering more of your skin is beneficial for aerodynamics. A suit with sleeves is faster than a sleeveless suit for example.
Rougher fabrics on the arms, shoulders and legs are also typically better than smooth fabrics. This follows the same logic as structured tyres being faster than smooth tyres. Structure on the fabric adds turbulence to the surface airflow, which is called ‘boundary layer turbulation’. For an athlete to be fast in cross-winds and benefit from good sailing effect, what they are wearing needs to have a turbulent boundary layer. The key is to have just the right amount of turbulence: not too much, not too little.