In this paper, hydrodynamic load models applicable to rhombic net structures are discussed and compared to experimental results with net panels in steady currents. Net panels with mesh sizes and mesh opening angles as is commonly used in fishing gear, were tested in the SINTEF operated flume tank in Hirtshals, Denmark. Drag and lift forces acting on the net panels were measured in two different water currents with attack angles ranging from 0 to 90 degrees.
These measurement data were used as a benchmark to compare the performance of several established mathematical models of hydrodynamic loads on panels. Subsequently, an element-based approach with summation of lift and drag forces acting on all the individual twines of the element was performed, and the output from the simulations was compared with experimental data. The correspondence between results from the numerical simulations and experiments were in general quite acceptable for higher angles of attack, while the lack of a wake model overestimated the drag at lower angles. Lift was predicted with high accuracy for all panels.