SPORTS AERO SOLUTIONS LIMITED – Providing cutting-edge aerodynamic insight for performance sports
A new joint venture, Sports Aero Solutions Limited (SASL), has launched a range wind tunnels for specific performance sports such as cycling and winter sports. It brings together the skills and experience of Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman, aerodynamic and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) experts TotalSim and high performance engineering solutions provider, KWSP. The SASL wind tunnels will overcome the prohibitive costs of using wind tunnels designed for automotive and motorsport.
Cyclists and triathletes – in fact athletes in general – routinely measure speed to the fraction of kph, record heart rate to the beat and power to the watt. They are obsessed with numbers – so it is ludicrous that knowledge of air resistance, the force they spend up to 90% of their energies overcoming, is minimal. A tiny fraction of the very best athletes in the world get to spend a few precious hours in a wind tunnel (usually designed primarily for the needs of the motor industry). For the vast majority of sports people, this all important knowledge is gleaned from articles in magazines and hearsay. This is because the only ways to accurately measure the effect of positional changes and equipment choices on performance, are both prohibitively expensive and hard to access. SASL will change this paradigm by delivering wind tunnel time at a fraction of the cost of the traditional solution.
For more than a decade, aerodynamicist and CFD expert Rob Lewis of TotalSim and Olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman, worked with some of the best athletes in the world to explore the effect of aerodynamics on their performance. Although hugely expensive, improvements were enormous. Because of this experience, Boardman and Lewis wanted to make aerodynamics exploration available to the wider sporting world. In 2015, they teamed up with high performance engineering solutions provider KWSP to form a new company, Sports Aero Solutions Limited (SASL). The purpose of the partnership was to design and manufacture accessible, highly accurate, sport-specific wind tunnels, with a goal of providing cutting-edge knowledge for everyone, from sports enthusiasts, to elite athletes and coaches.
Chris Boardman said of the venture: “It’s not an exaggeration to say the knowledge I gained from using a wind tunnel in the early 90’s enabled me to win an Olympic Gold. Nearly 20 years later, I spent a decade helping other GB athletes access that same advantage. The few tunnels available to us were geared up for motor sport, they were very expensive to use, had to be modified for our use and were hard to gain access to. Without Lottery funding, we would not have been able to make the advances we made.
“We set up SASL to remove this barrier – to make aero exploration available to enthusiastic cyclists, runners, winter sports, in fact any athlete who is limited by aero drag and wants to do something about it.”
Rob Lewis of TotalSim explains the benefits of using a wind tunnel; “Small efficiency improvements in aerodynamics, be they equipment, clothing or position have an enormous impact on race outcome; we know, we’ve seen it. In fact, as air resistance accounts for the vast majority of an athlete’s energy expenditure, it is the single most important thing to understand.
“Wind tunnels are by far the most accurate way to measure the impact of drag on performance. The high-fidelity instrumentation of SASL’s wind tunnel solutions and its ability to recreate any wind condition that an athlete will encounter, make it the best tool to measure the implication of tiny changes which would not be detected in any other way.
“The SASL wind tunnel can run tests at every wind speed and angle athletes are likely to encounter. Our proprietary, highly-sensitive balance measures all the forces acting on the athlete and the output can be fed back to the user, real-time, in a format familiar to them: watts, speed, grams or newtons of force, or time saved over a given distance and speed.”
Kieron Salter, MD of KWSP added: “SASL brings together a set of complementary skills, all focused on creating cost effective wind tunnels honed to the specific needs of the sport in question. As a high-performance engineering business KWSP will use our team of engineers to design and manufacture wind tunnel solutions for our customers based on their specifications, TotalSim’s aerodynamic requirements and Boardman’s understanding of the needs of performance athletes.”
The partnership is based in the south Midlands, with KWSP’s and TotalSim’s facilities both located in Brackley, Northamptonshire, an area well known for its pre-eminence in motorsport engineering.
Note to Editors
Sports Aero Solutions Limited
More information can be found on the Sports Aero Solutions website – www.sportsaerosolutions.com
Christopher Boardman, MBE, is a British former racing cyclist who won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics, broke the world hour record three times, he won three stages and wore the yellow jersey on three separate occasions at the Tour de France. In 1992, he was awarded an MBE for services to cycling. From 2004 to 2012 He led British Cycling’s R&D team (The Secret Squirrel Club). During this period, the GB cycling team became the most successful British Olympic team of all time.
TotalSim Ltd is a leading aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) specialist, producing simulations of real world fluid flow problems for clients that include Aston Martin and British Cycling. Established in 2007, TotalSim was the natural replacement for the successful Advantage CFD consultancy that operated as part of the Honda Formula One team until 2006. The TotalSim head office is located in Brackley, UK, with two further offices in North America and Japan – www.totalsimulation.co.uk
KW Special Projects (KWSP) is a high-performance design and engineering solution provider. Pioneers in horizontal innovation, KWSP uses a sector agnostic approach to integrate knowledge and technology from a wide range of disciplines to provide end-to-end delivery of high performance solutions. Headed by Kieron Salter, founder and MD of KW Motorsport Ltd, KWSP’s core capabilities include end to end engineering solutions including special purpose machine design, light weighting, digital fabrication and additive manufacturing. Based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, KWSP is located within the Silverstone Technology Cluster, a world-leading grouping of high performance technology and motorsport businesses at the heart of the UK’s thriving Motorsport Valley. www.kwspecialprojects.com