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A triangular sail set by sailing vessels on the stays of the foremast. The largest square-rigged sailing vessels of the late 19th century and early 20th century carried as many as six jibs, named from aft to forward: storm, inner, outer, flying, spindle, and jib-of-jibs, the last being hoisted in only very light weather. Smaller sailing vessels, particularly those fore-and-aft rigged, normally only set one jib, other triangular sails set before the foremast being known as staysails. In the old-fashioned fore-and-aft rig, where a bowsprit carried a fore-topmast stay beyond the stem of the vessel to give additional support to the mast, it was on this stay that the jib was carried, with a staysail set on the forestay. The modern Bermudan rig has no bowsprit and the single forestay is set up on, or even inboard of, the stem and this usually only carries one large jib, no staysail being set. These large jibs, of which the clew extends well abaft the mast, are known as genoa or yankee jibs, and for a period during the 1930s some of the J-class racing yachts set a double-clewed jib.

The jib and jib-boom were introduced in 1705 for smaller ships as a replacement for the older spritsail and spritsail topmast, and by 1719 had been also adopted by the largest ships then built. From its inception it proved a great step forward in the efficiency of a sailing vessel on the wind and was, as the author of the Marine Dictionary (1771) wrote, ‘a sail of great command on a side wind, and particularly when sailing close-hauled’.

See also cut of his (her) jib, the.

See also cut of his (her) jib, the.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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