Sailing Beginner – Types of Sails Continued


In my last sailing beginner article, I talked about the types of sails that are deployed on modern sailing boats such as the main, jib, genoa, spinnaker and lateen. Another sail that may be useful is the flanker which is essentially a heavy duty spinnaker designed for higher winds of 15 knots and made of heavier material. The flanker would be deployed in higher winds than a conventional spinnaker that is made of lighter material and most likely would not be used in this situation.

The square sail is the type of sail that was used in the vessels of yesterday. They were made of canvas and used for traveling with the wind. However, the lugsail is a new and improved version of the square as the halyard is attached closer on one end than the other and when hoisted most of the sail will lie either fore or aft of the mast. This allows the mast to be shorter than the sail by extension due to being rigged offset in relation to the mast which makes up the difference in height.

The mizzen is a smaller than the main and is raised on its own mast located behind the main mast and can be quite useful for several different applications. Using it is a great way to navigate in busy harbors or in tight areas around other vessels before deploying the main and/or jib. Also in heavy winds the mizzen can be used instead of a storm trysail or jib. And the mast can be useful for a backup vhf antenna, in case the main mast gets damaged. With the addition of a mizzen to a boat will not reduce the performance in anyway, in fact not only will it decrease the inventory of sails necessary onboard, but they will also increase the overall performance of it as well.

The future of sailing may rest with the turbo sail that consists of a permanent vertical airfoil. The turbo acts like that of an airplane wing, creating lift on one side and drag on the other. As a result, the turbo sail is able to provide thrust regardless of wind direction. A vessel equipped with turbo sails can make headway even into a headwind, gaining energy from differential pressure created by the captive vortex both inside and outside the sail. With the help of computers controlling this type of sail, rotation can be achieved to the most efficient angle providing maximum propulsion as well.

Using different type of sails is essential to achieve the best results and enables the sailing beginner and old salts alike to be able to cruise in whatever direction they choose. Sailing ships of yesteryear did not have this luxury as they were hostage to the prevailing winds, as they were incapable of tacking or traveling upwind. However with modern boats the sky is the limit especially with the rising cost of petroleum these days, it only makes sense to discover that the future of boating can be found by looking to the past. Happy Sailing!

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