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Keywords:

  • sailing performance;
  • square-sail;
  • lateen;
  • settee;
  • Mediterranean

A common statement in the academic literature relating to the ancient Mediterranean is that the lateen/settee rig superseded the Mediterranean square-sail because it provided superior upwind performance, greater manoeuvrability and higher overall speed. This statement has been repeated so often that it is now commonly accepted. Research by the author sets out to develop an insight into the relative performance of both types of rig, based on historical sources, ethnographic records and the performance of representative, full-size sailing vessels. This allows a reassessment to be made of the underlying reasons behind the adoption of the lateen/settee rig in the Mediterranean.

© 2010 The Author