Project Vortex is all about speed. By using CFD, positioning large fans in the right position next to the track we created a perfect air flow.
Speed skating is the national winter sports of the Netherlands, and the Dutch athletes have been dominant throughout the history of the sports. Jumbo Visma is the biggest pro ice-skating team and has a large flock of the top Dutch skaters under its wings.
One of the bigger issues ice skaters face is the difference between training speed and competition speed. Training speed should never be on world record velocity, which results in some tension between training forces and competition forces. Some highland tracks require even more velocity due to the low air density, and this feels very different from the training sessions. Corners get much harder as the forces on the skates increase, and it is more difficult to stay on the racing line. Races can, and are sometimes lost due to this difference, which is unnecessary as this seems a solvable thing.
Red Bull as a sponsor had a sit down with coach Jac Orie and team Jumbo Visma and discussed what could be done to aid our top athletes in going faster, and so project Vortex was born.
This project focuses on providing means to solve this problem. And for that we studied all options to lower the aerodynamic resistance of the skaters, and in the end, we chose to produce 16 large fans and installed them on the Thialf ice skate rink. This provided a tailwind of up to 10 km/h, and this allowed for training on higher speed than ever before.
For Actiflow this is a project unlike most other projects, even though it involves fans, CFD and the construction of a lot of stuff, it is more an event than a product. And both a fun and successful one. The event has been organized a couple of times by now, and hopefully it will transition into a regular training session in the future.
For more information see Red Bull Instagram