In the days of sail a single rope fitted in large ships for hauling down a jib or staysail when shortening sail. It was led up along a stay and through the cringles of the sail and then made fast to the upper corner of the sail. Downhauls were also rigged for similar use with studding sails, being led through blocks on the outer clews of the sails to the outer yardarms of the studding sail. But in general, any rope fitted for the purpose of hauling down a sail used to be called a downhaul. Nowadays the word is used for the rope attached to a yacht's spinnaker pole to help control it. A yacht's vang is also sometimes called a downhaul.
Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.