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The ropes, sails and rigging of a sailing yacht

Boom A spar, typically of aluminium or wood, that runs along the bottom of a sail
Fore-and-aft A sail plan in which the sails run from the front to the back of the boat, as opposed to a square-rigged sail plan, the traditional rig for large sailing vessels where the sails run from side to side
Foresail Generic name for sail attached to the forestay at the front of the boat. These sails are usually jibs or genoas. Also known as headsails
Forestay A rope or wire that runs from the masthead or near the top of the mast to the front of the boat. It is part of the standing rigging that provides strucutural integrity to the boat
Gaff A spar, typically made of wood, that runs along the top of a sail. It is also the name of a stick with an iron hook used for landing large fish
Genoa A large triangular sail at the front of a sailing boat that stretches back past the mast. Common on modern yachts. Also known as a foresail or headsail. See also jib
Halyard Any rope that is used to hoist a sail up the mast. Halyards are part of the running rigging
Jib A triangular sail at the front of the boat. Also referred to as a foresail or headsail. See also genoa
Kicking strap A rope that runs from the boom to the base of the mast to control the lift of the foot of the sail. Also known as a vang, particularly in the States
Mainsail The primary sail of a sailing boat. On a modern single-masted sloop, the mainsail will be attached to a boom along the bottom. In some sailplans, it may also have a gaff at the top
Reef To reef is to reduce the amount of sail area. This makes the boat easier to control in heavy wind conditions.
Running rigging The running rigging comprises the flexible ropes that are used for raising sails as well as controlling them when under way. More details can be found in the understanding rigging section
Sheet A rope that is used to control the angle of the sail to the wind. The sheets are the ropes that sailors use most often. Each sail has a sheet (sometimes more than one) and these will be called, for example, the mainsheet or the jibsheet. Sheets are part of the running rigging
Shrouds The shrouds are wires or ropes that run from the top of the mast to the deck on either side and provide lateral stability. They are part of the standing rigging
Square-rigged A sail-plan where the sails are set at right angles to the length of the boat, opposite to a fore and aft rig
Standing rigging The standing rigging is the fixed static rigging that supports the mast and provides structural rigidity to the boat. More details can be found in the understanding rigging section
Stays The collective phrase for the ropes or wires that support the mast. The stays form the majority of the standing rigging and include the backstay, forestay and shrouds
Vang A rope that runs from the boom to the base of the mast to control the lift of the foot of the sail. A vang is often a solid spar, rather than just rope, and may be hydraulic. It performs the same function as a kicking strap
Warp Any rope that secures a vessel to the shore.
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