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Rigging (from Anglo-Saxon wrigan or wringing, "to clothe") is the apparatus through which the force of the wind is used to propel sailboats and sailing ships forward. This includes masts, yards, sails, and cordage.


Terms and classifications

Rigging is the mechanical sailing apparatus attached to the hull in order to move the boat as a whole. This includes cordage (ropes attached to the spars and sails in order to manipulate their position and shape), sails (aerofoils, usually made of fabric, used to catch the wind), and spars (masts and other solid objects sails are attached to). Cordage is more usually the term for stocks of rope, yarn, or other types line in storage, before it has been put to some use in a vessel, whereafter is commonly referred to as the rigging. In this article, Rigging denotes the full set of cordage, sails and spars, except when it is part of another term (see running rigging and standing rigging).

Certain sail-plans are used for certain purposes according to their aerodynamic properties. All sailing vessels are classified according to their hull design and rigging.

In Antiquity, ships only used oars during battle. The sails could hinder the quick maneuvers needed in advancing the warship. Since the main rig took time to put up and take down, they implemented another rig. One that was capable of being erected faster than the main rig. It was called the emergency rig. It was known as the emergency rig because its main use was to get the ship out faster if it got into trouble and could not get the main rig up fast enough. There is question on what equipment was in the emergency rig. Since there are no pictures/drawings of the emergency rig in use there are questions as to what exact material it consisted of. There is a comparison of the rig to a bow-sail, because it could be carried at all times. After the 4th century BC the existence of the emergency rig is questionable in the Athenian Navy, because there is evidence that the entire emergency rig was substituted for a lighter sail.[1]

Parts of rigging


The term cordage refers to the ropes, called lines, that connect and manipulate sails. Cordage is attached to the spars and sometimes the sails by systems of metal pulleys and clips. The materials chosen for cordage are determined by the strength and weight of the rope. Cordage is divided into two types: running rigging and standing rigging.

Standing rigging is cordage which is fixed in position. Standing rigging is almost always between a mast and the deck, using tension to hold the mast firmly in place. Due to its role, standing rigging is now most commonly made of steel cable. It was historically made of the same materials as running rigging, only coated in tar for added strength and protection from the elements.

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