A sloop is a sailboat with a single masttypically having only one headsail in front of the mast and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast. Such an arrangement is called a fore-and-aft rig, and can be rigged as a Bermuda rig with triangular sails fore and aft, or as a gaff-rig with triangular foresail(s) and a gaff rigged mainsail. Sailboats can be classified according to type of rig, and so a sailboat may be a sloop, catboat, cutter, ketch, yawl, or schooner. A sloop usually has only one headsail, although an exception is the Friendship sloop, which is usually gaff-rigged with a bowsprit and multiple headsails. If the vessel has two or more headsails, the term cutter may be used, especially if the mast is stepped further towards the back of the boat.
When going before the wind, a sloop may carry a square-rigged topsail which will be hung from a topsail yard and be supported from below by a crossjack. This sail often has a large hollow foot, and this foot is sometimes filled with yet another quadrilateral square rigged sail called a "save-all topsail."
The name originates from the Dutch sloep, which is related to the Old English slūpan, to glide.In naval terminology, "sloop-of-war" refers to the purpose of the craft, rather than to the specific size or sail-plan, and thus a sloop should not be confused with a sloop-of-war.
After the cat rig which has only a single sail,the Bermuda rig is the simplest sailing rig configurations. It is the most popular yacht rigging because it is easier to sail with a smaller crew or even single-handed, it is cheaper since it has less hardware than more complex rigs, and it sails well into the wind. A limitation is that when a boat gets over 45 feet in length, the sails become so large that they are difficult to handle, although modern technology is helping with this through the use of electric winches and furling systems.
The headsail can be masthead-rigged or fractional-rigged. On a masthead-rigged sloop, the forestay (on which the headsail is carried) attaches at the top of the mast. On a fractional-rigged sloop, the forestay attaches to the mast at a point below the top. A sloop may use a bowsprit, a spar that projects forward from the bow.
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: fore-and-aft rigged on all of 2 or more masts and, in the case of a 2 masted schooner, the foremast generally being shorter than the mainmast. A common variant, the topsail schooner also has a square topsail on the foremast, to which may be added a topgallant and other square sails, but not a fore course, as that would make the vessel a brigantine. Many schooners are gaff-rigged, but other examples include Bermuda rig and the staysail schooner.
A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails and is smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture.
A sail plan is a description of the specific ways that a sailing craft is rigged, as discussed below. Also, the term “sail plan” is a graphic depiction of the arrangement of the sails for a given sailing craft.
A ketch is a two-masted sailboat whose mainmast is taller than the mizzen mast, generally in a 40-foot or bigger boat. The name ketch is derived from catch. The ketch's main mast is usually stepped in the same position as in a sloop.
A jib is a triangular sail that sets ahead of the foremast of a sailing vessel. Its tack is fixed to the bowsprit, to the bows, or to the deck between the bowsprit and the foremost mast. Jibs and spinnakers are the two main types of headsails on a modern boat.
A tall ship is a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. Popular modern tall ship rigs include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. "Tall ship" can also be defined more specifically by an organization, such as for a race or festival.
A topsail ("tops'l") is a sail set above another sail; on square-rigged vessels further sails may be set above topsails.
A backstay is a piece of standing rigging on a sailing vessel that runs from the mast to either its transom or rear quarter, counteracting the forestay and jib. It is an important sail trim control and has a direct effect on the shape of the mainsail and the headsail. Backstays are generally adjusted by block and tackle, hydraulic adjusters, or lines leading to winches.
A spinnaker is a sail designed specifically for sailing off the wind from a reaching course to a downwind, i.e. with the wind 90–180° off bow. The spinnaker fills with wind and balloons out in front of the boat when it is deployed, called flying. It is constructed of lightweight fabric, usually nylon, and is often brightly coloured. It may be optimised for a particular range of wind angles, as either a reaching or a running spinnaker, by the shaping of the panels and seams.
A mainsail is a sail rigged on the main mast of a sailing vessel.
A cutter is a sailing vessel which is distinguished from a sloop by having more than one foresails, and the main mast stepped slightly further back. Cutters are most commonly private yachts but the term may also be used for some rowing or power boats, for example, the United States Coast Guard Cutter.
Gaff rig is a sailing rig in which the sail is four-cornered, fore-and-aft rigged, controlled at its peak and, usually, its entire head by a spar (pole) called the gaff. Because of the size and shape of the sail, a gaff rig will have running backstays rather than permanent backstays.
A Bermuda rig, Bermudian rig, or Marconi rig is a configuration of mast and rigging for a type of sailboat and is the typical configuration for most modern sailboats. This configuration was developed in Bermuda in the 17th century; the term Marconi, a reference to the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, became associated with this configuration in the early 20th century because the wires that stabilize the mast of a Bermuda rig reminded observers of the wires on early radio masts.
In sailing, a course is the lowermost sail on a mast.
Square rig is a generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spars which are perpendicular, or square, to the keel of the vessel and to the masts. These spars are called yards and their tips, beyond the last stay, are called the yardarms. A ship mainly rigged so is called a square-rigger.
The Friendship sloop, also known as a Muscongus Bay sloop or lobster sloop, is a gaff-rigged working boat design that originated in Friendship, Maine around 1880 and has survived as a traditional-style sailboat.
A fractional rig on a sailing vessel consists of a foresail, such as a jib or genoa sail, that does not reach all the way to the top of the mast.
A mast-aft rig is a sailboat sail-plan that uses a single mast set in the aft half of the hull. The mast supports fore-sails that may consist of a single jib, multiple staysails, or a crab claw sail. The mainsail is either small or completely absent. Mast-aft rigs are uncommon, but are found on a few custom, and production sailboats.
A masthead rig on a sailing vessel consists of a forestay and backstay both attached at the top of the mast.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sailing:
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