Mizzen sail

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Full ship Preussen.png
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Крузенштерн Radich-1.jpg
Besan of the full ship Prussia Split mizzen of the Bark
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Regina Maris.JPG
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Mizzen of the gaff schooner
Regina Maris
Mizzen of the cutter-rigged
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The mizzen or the mizzen sail is a sail in the fore and aft direction ( Schratsegel) on the eighth (rearmost) mast of many sailing ships. The term is used on most sailing ships with at least three masts and on some two-masted sailing ships.

The word besan is Dutch from the Arabic word mazan for mast, the sails of which keep the ship moving smoothly . Like other naval names of Arabic origin, this term found its way into northern Europe through the Mediterranean trade. Older forms of the term in German are missan (1487) and Meisan (1636). It was not until the 16th century that the current form appeared with the initial letter b .
This sail is sometimes called the driver or, on Zeesen boats, a bull sail or bull .

History and commitment

The mizzen sail was originally an additional gaff sail on the rearmost mast of a full ship , the cross mast . In the course of the development of the sailing ship , the barque came into being, the last mast of which - the so-called mizzen mast  - only carries a gaff sail: a mizzen top sail is placed above the mizzen sail (also divided as an upper and lower broom with two gaffs) . The mizzen is also spoken of on schooners with three or more masts. Modern, smaller boat types with mizzen sails are z. B. the ketch and the yawl . On boats or ships with Bermuda rigging (high rigging) the mizzen is (also) a triangular sail.

The mizzen is traditionally the only gaff sail on full ships. The mizzen sail on sailing boats / ships is the last sail that is trimmed (adjusted) after setting the sails or changing course .


  • K. Schwitalla, U. Scharnow: Lexicon of seafaring . Born in 1988, transpress VEB Verlag für Verkehrwesen Berlin, ISBN 3-344-00190-6 .
  • The big book of ship types Dudszus, Henriot, Krumrey various editions transpress Verlag Berlin ISBN 3-344-00312-7