running free

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The situation of a sailing vessel when the wind is either well abaft the beam and within a point or two of blowing from directly astern or blows directly from that direction. The term comes from the fact that with the wind from this direction, the sheets of the sails are freed right away in order to present the maximum possible sail area as square as possible to the wind. See also broach to, to; gybe, to; and for illus. points of sailing.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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