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A sail is any type of surface intended to generate thrust by being placed in a wind—in essence a vertically-oriented wing. Sails are used in sailing.


History of sails

The earliest known depictions of sails are from ancient Egypt around 3200 BCE[1][2], where reed boats sailed upstream against the River Nile's current. Ancient Sumerians were using square rigged sailing boats at about the same time, and it is believed they established sea trading routes as far away as the Indus valley. Greeks and Phoenicians began trading by ship by around 1,200 BCE. Square sails mounted on yardarms perpendicular to the boat's hull are very good for downwind sailing; they dominated in the ancient Mediterranean and spread to Northern Europe, and were independently invented in China and Ecuador. Although fore-and-aft rigs have become more popular on modern yachts, square sails continued to power full-rigged ships through the Age of Sail and to the present day. Triangular fore-and-aft lateen sails were invented independently in the Mediterranean (possibly derived from the square sail through the lugsail), the Indian Ocean, the Pacific (from V-shaped sails) and Peru, and continue to be used throughout the world. During the 16th-19th centuries other fore-and-aft sails were developed in Europe, such as the spritsail, gaff rig, jib/genoa/staysail, and Bermuda rig, which give better upwind sailing ability.

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