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Rigging the Gorch Fock (1968)

Rigging (also rigging, rigging ) describes the standing rigging and parts of the running rigging of a sailing ship . More precisely, these are the (fixed) masts and the ropes that hold the masts ( shrouds , stages), and the spars , blocks and fittings, provided they are attached to the masts and spars, as well as the part of the running goods that is used to operate the sail is necessary but not attached to the ship (mainly halyards , but also dirk , toppnant and boom vang). The sails themselves and the sheets do not belong to the rigging , although the latter belong to the running rigging . The term is derived from the Takel , a heavy tackle with two multi-disc blocks (pulley blocks ). From the English, the term rigg (from English rig , from Old English wriga or wrihan , German “to dress”) is also used. Accordingly, a ship is also "rigged up" or "rigged".


Prehistoric times and antiquity

Standing rigging of a four-masted barque
Sails of a four-masted barque

For many thousands of years a single mast and a simple square sail were the only elements of rigging used. The bowsprit , which resembled a steeply inclined foremast , was not a major advancement until the Roman Empire . In the Mediterranean area, where the rowing galley played a greater role, mast and sails have developed in the direction of Latin rigging , while in Western Europe pure yard sails were predominant until the 15th century. The running rig was very simple in both lines of development. The required to set sail traps were to aft out and served simultaneously as backstage that supported the mast while sailing.

Early Middle Ages (6th to 11th centuries)

In the Middle Ages, bulines ( holding ropes ) were placed on the side edges of the very bulbous sails and led forward to a bowsprit ; a spar (round wood) that protruded over the bow . The standing rigging was with Virgin and Taljereeps excited and ratlines , whereby a ladder of ropes was that the lighter up and Abentern served (the terminology is the list seamanship technical terms referenced).

At the top of the mast , the sail ship received one after the Roman god of war Mars named fighting top . Archers, grenade launchers and later rifle shooters were brought into position in this masthead and attacked a ship lying alongside.

15th century

At the beginning of the 15th century, sailing ships with two or three masts began to be built in north-western Europe. The mainmast was placed in the middle of the ship. The additional masts were set up in fore and aft forts because fighting had shown that it was easier to defend the ship. They probably originated from flagpoles, on which flags or banners were initially hoisted and later small sails. Another spar (Mars stalk) was attached to the main mast above the masthead, which carried another sail. This small sail was still used by sailors in Mars, from which the term topsail was derived.

The mainsail was soon followed by another on the foremast, and its size increased steadily. The clews were led to the cams of the yard below, so that the sails were easier to operate. The latin sail , which was used in the Mediterranean area, was used as a mizzen on large sailing ships.

In terms of construction, the sail area was constantly enlarged. Towards the end of the Middle Ages the blind was placed under the bowsprit , a square sail attached to a pole . The blind man probably made a lookout at a higher place necessary, as she prevented the ship's command from looking ahead. At the end of the 15th century, sailing ships with four masts came into use. The two aft masts generally only carried latin sails. The small Bonaventura mizzen mast usually extended beyond the stern and was supposed to put pressure on the ship aft with wind pressure in order to put more pressure on the rudder there.

16th Century

In the middle of the 16th century, the big sailors got a third square sail on the fore and main mast, the slab sail . Up until around this time the stanchions were permanent extensions of the lower masts and could not be dismantled. From 1570 onwards, interchangeable bars were used. They were held in position on the mast by the donkey's head and secured against slipping through with a wedge attached underneath, the lock wood. The invention is attributed to the Dutch and was soon adopted by all seafaring nations.

17th century

In the 17th century it became customary to equip the mizzen mast with a topsail, and the bonaventure mizzen mast became superfluous; the full-rigged ship (Engl. full rigged ship) was created. It was not until the mid-18th century that rigging had developed enough that each mast carried the same number of yards. The sailing ships of the 17th century were built with a low bow and a high stern. In order to reduce the windwardness caused by this design in strong winds and to improve maneuverability, more headsails were used. At the end of the 17th century, staysails began to be used, initially between the masts and a little later over the bowsprit. The staysail prevailed, although the front staysail was difficult to set because of the complicated rigging of the blind and blind-blind.

Stamping stick
Albatros Lillebæltsbroen Middelfart.jpg
Progress on the jib boom :
stamping stick (in the picture the Albatros )

18th century

The bowsprit bar disappeared at the beginning of the 18th century. The running rig was gradually lengthened to make it easier to operate the staysail. The Bugsprietstenge was amended by Klüverbaum replaced where a new staysail, the jib was set. In the second half of the 18th century, the large latin hoop of the mizzen gave way to the gaff . The mizzen was enlarged and driven on a tree protruding over the stern. Under the bowsprit was with the dolphin striker (: rare Delphi scourge ) installed a new spar to the rigging, of the jib-boom improve. From these improvements a new spar developed, the outer jib boom , with the outer jib . On large sailing ships, a fourth yard was added over the Bramrah, the Royalrah .

19th century

The huge topsails of the sailing ships were very difficult to handle, especially when a reef had to be integrated in strong winds . Therefore, around 1850, people started to divide the topsail ( lower and upper topsail ). About twenty years later, large and small sailing ships sailed double Marsrahen and double Bramrahen.

Around the middle of the 19th century, the rigging of the standing rigging of sailing ships was replaced by wire. At the end of the 19th century the winch came up, so that fewer sailors were needed on board to bend the yards of the sailing ship .

Current developments

In the years of the oil crisis in the 1960s, the originally Franconian mechanical engineer Wilhelm Prölss in Hamburg developed an automated square sail system for cargo ships under the name Dyna-Rigg . With him, the square sails on rotatable masts form a closed sail area compared to historical square sails. The sail surfaces are extended like roller blinds from the mast to the cams of the aerodynamically curved yards or rolled back into the mast in stronger winds.

The use of new composite materials made it possible to equip a ship with this drive for the first time in 2006. It is the 88-meter yacht Maltese Falcon with a sail area of ​​2,400 square meters.


In the rigging works Takler or Rigger , the masts builds the mast builder .

Web links

Commons : Rigging / Rigging  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: rigging  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations