One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The principal sail of a ship, especially the lowest sail on the mainmast in a square-rigged vessel.
- ‘These mainsails are the more traditional mainsail cut with short length battens and slab reefing.’
- ‘While the mainsail provides a large portion of power, it also affects the boat's directional control.’
- ‘As the galley righted itself, another wave struck from the other side, and the ship heeled over so far its mainsail almost touched the water.’
- ‘Hornblower watched as both ships backed the mainsails, turned the helm hard over, and took up the prescribed position.’
- ‘These days, the majority of new mainsails are designed with a loose-footed arrangement.’
- 1.1 The sail set on the after side of the mainmast in a fore-and-aft-rigged vessel.
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