The Origin and Development of the Triangular Sail and the Gaff Sail in Seventeenth Century Holland

By A.W. Sleeswyk, published November 1987


The article traces the earliest representations of boomed and boomless leg of mutton sails in Holland to the start of the seventeenth century. The author postulates that the sail type derived from knowledge of Peruvian balsa rafts brought back by explorers, rather than being developed from the lateen sail which had been in use for some time. It is also suggested that the modern gaff and Bermudan rigs are derived from the leg of mutton rather than the lateen.

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Filed under: Early Modern | North Sea
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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