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Old 16-10-2009, 00:56   #1
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Sailing Upwind - Why Would Sail Rig Be Important?

I am putting together a tour of a Chinese Garden for members of my sailing club, and for information I am reading Robert Temple's "The Genius of China." He claims that the fore-and aft sail improved the upwind ability of ships, but I am just not convinced that the sail rig is a big contributer to pointing ability.

As I think about it, I am starting to believe that the most important factor in upwind ability is the use of a leeboard, or rudder to decrease leeway. (Also claimed as a Chinese invention.)

Does anyone know of a good source of info describing how the sailing innovations which were adopted from the Chinese really worked to improve a ship's performance? (Or refuting that these innovations were from the Chinese?)

One quote from the book:

"In every way, whether for navigation, propulsion, or steering, Europeans were dependent upon Chinese ideas in order to be capable of the Great Voyages of Discovery."

Thanks!
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Old 16-10-2009, 03:01   #2
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Not sure I can advise on sail rigs, but I thought the English solved the problem of longitude by a Mr Harrison inventing the pocket watch.

Also didn't the Vikings do some pretty amazing voyages and discover America first.

Pete
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Old 16-10-2009, 06:21   #3
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The chinese were newcomers in this business by comparison with the polynesians. However some of their more radical ideas are still only slowly being absorbed into western culture - for example, the advantages of multiple hulls.
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Old 16-10-2009, 12:35   #4
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The chinese were newcomers in this business by comparison with the polynesians. However some of their more radical ideas are still only slowly being absorbed into western culture - for example, the advantages of multiple hulls.
Thanks,

However, the tour is at a Chinese Garden, for American female sailors. And looking forward, a lecture for other Chinese garden docents. The tour length is 45 minutes. So Polynesians are off-topic here. The topic is China, even if I need to say that the Chinese copied everything from the Polynesians.

I certainly do not want to credit the Chinese with originating technology if they adopted it from the Polynesians. So if you have good resources, please provide them. otherwise, I need to use the resources I have, which states:

"It could probably be safely said that the Chinese were the greatest sailors in history. For nearly two millennia they had ships and sailing techniques so far in advance of the rest of the world that comparisons are embarrassing." ( Page 205, Temple, The Genius of China)

Temple credits the Chinese with fore and aft rigged sails, the junk rig, battens , the rudder, leeboard, watertight bulkheads, the magnetic compass, and more.

Elsewhere, he discusses shipping canals.

But I do think you for your comments. My purpose in posting here is to try to avoid misinforming my audience.
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Old 16-10-2009, 12:42   #5
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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Not sure I can advise on sail rigs, but I thought the English solved the problem of longitude by a Mr Harrison inventing the pocket watch.

Also didn't the Vikings do some pretty amazing voyages and discover America first.

Pete
I am specifically concerned with Chinese technology and maritime trade, since this is a tour of a Chinese garden.
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Old 16-10-2009, 12:49   #6
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Originally Posted by planetluvver View Post
I am putting together a tour of a Chinese Garden for members of my sailing club, and for information I am reading Robert Temple's "The Genius of China." He claims that the fore-and aft sail improved the upwind ability of ships, but I am just not convinced that the sail rig is a big contributer to pointing ability.

As I think about it, I am starting to believe that the most important factor in upwind ability is the use of a leeboard, or rudder to decrease leeway. (Also claimed as a Chinese invention.)

Does anyone know of a good source of info describing how the sailing innovations which were adopted from the Chinese really worked to improve a ship's performance? (Or refuting that these innovations were from the Chinese?)

One quote from the book:

"In every way, whether for navigation, propulsion, or steering, Europeans were dependent upon Chinese ideas in order to be capable of the Great Voyages of Discovery."

Thanks!
I can't comment on whether or not the Chinese made any significant contributions, but there is no doubt in my mind that the sail rig is a major contributor to pointing ability. Ability to point high is a function of both underwater hull shape and the efficiency and depth of the keel (or whatever underwater appendages a boat has) and rig design and sail shape. In general, from a design point of view, the deeper the keel and the higher aspect the rig, the better a boat can point.
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Old 16-10-2009, 13:00   #7
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It sounds as if you are going to base your entire lecture on the contents of one book where the author would more than likely be attempting to make sure that any claims put forward would support "The Genius of China."
I would think that you would also conact the local library or book stores to get other information on the history of sailing, to see what other opinions are on who were "the greatest sailors in history."
I know nothing of the history of China, so these claims may be true, but it seems one should do a little homework before giving such a talk. Just MHO
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Old 16-10-2009, 13:16   #8
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I don't quite get the fore-aft sail thing either. Many ancient Greek triremes had two masts. Of course, they were square riggers, primarily oar powered, and probably not suited for crossing oceans. However, the design of Lanteen rigged Arab dhows, some of which have two masts, is believed to date from Greek and Roman times.

Also, Homer's Odyssey circa 800 BCE speaks of a shipwrecked Odysseus making a raft out of the ship's rudder, at least in the modern English translation.
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Old 16-10-2009, 15:28   #9
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Lateen sails are fore and aft sails.
I don't agree that polynesians were ahead of other cultures in sailing. Carvings on the inside of the pyramids indicate sailing vessels. That would be 4000 BC? Polynesians definitely were great navigators and didn't need clocks to find islands and were transiting thousands of sea miles with accuracy long before Columbus' time.
regards,
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Old 16-10-2009, 15:37   #10
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Not specifically about technology, but I understand the Ming voyages were probably their most significant sailing era and an often overlooked part of voyaging history.
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Old 16-10-2009, 15:45   #11
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Is it possible that they are talking about a jib/main when they say fore/aft sail combination? If that is the case, it certainly stands to reason that one can claim better windward performance.

As far as the Chinese mariners, etc goes, what comes to my mind first is the "junk rig" - there used to be a strong following at one time - it is certainly an easy to manage, efficient rig of the earlier times.

Chinese history-wise, however, I thought they came out of their borders, looked around and decided that the rest of the world wasn't so interesting and ended up existing in almost strict isolation for many centuries. This changed only recently.

I hope my recollection of the history is accurate - after all, it is only as accurate as the books one reads

Fair winds!

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Old 16-10-2009, 15:54   #12
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I'm not quite sure the chinese ever went anywhere? Kind of liked to stay at home. I would never base all my ideas on one book. Gives you a very subjective lecture.
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Old 16-10-2009, 17:05   #13
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Marconi rig. Wasn't he Italian? But he didn't invent the rig though right? They just named it after him because he looked like a sailboat right?

I'm sure a quick Wiki read would answer that. As for the quote ("In every way, whether for navigation, propulsion, or steering, Europeans were dependent upon Chinese ideas in order to be capable of the Great Voyages of Discovery.")
about the Europeans relying on the Chinese for sailing innovation I am pretty sure (without a trip to the encyclopedia) that that is an inflammatory statement aimed more at captivating the reader than informing him. There is a book "1421 The Year China Discovered The Real World" which makes similar claims. In my opinion these books are more aimed at getting China's roll in world history out of the dusty recesses of the historical hinterlands. Which isn't an altogether valueless pursuit but one that, judging by these two works, could use a little tempering.

The Marconi or Bermuda rig is so far the one with the best windward performance. As stated in the same entry the rig was influenced heavily by the Moorish Lateen rigs.

Here is a Wiki quote.

"The term Bermuda rig refers to a configuration of mast and rigging for a type of sailboat and is also known as a Marconi rig; this is the typical configuration for most modern sailboats. Developed in Bermuda in the 17th century, the term Marconi was a much later reference to the inventor Guglielmo Marconi, whose wireless radio masts the Bermuda rigs were said to resemble.[1]"
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Old 16-10-2009, 17:20   #14
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The sloop design, like the cutter, evolved from the bezaan jacht. This type of craft was commonly used by the Dutch early in the 17th century, with one of the earliest known draughts dated 1657.

the bezaan jacht which was a small shallow drafted vessel with a single mast, a gaff rig with a triangular staysail and a long bowsprit from which a jib could be set forward from the staysail. Due to its extremely shallow draught to allow its use in shoal waters, the bezaan jacht had leeboards, devices attached to each side which could be swung down like an external keel to prevent excessive leeway when sailing on the wind. In England, where waters were not so shallow as in Holland, the design was copied and given a deeper draught to allow the elimination of the leeboards.
From http://www.flyinglab.com/pirates/shipguide/Cutter/MiddleLeftFrame.htm

Sorry the Chinese don't rate a mention and at the time one would have been surprised for any real inovation to have jumped the number of puddles.

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Old 16-10-2009, 18:22   #15
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It sounds as if you are going to base your entire lecture on the contents of one book where the author would more than likely be attempting to make sure that any claims put forward would support "The Genius of China."
I would think that you would also conact the local library or book stores to get other information on the history of sailing, to see what other opinions are on who were "the greatest sailors in history."
I know nothing of the history of China, so these claims may be true, but it seems one should do a little homework before giving such a talk. Just MHO
Yes but I had to start somewhere. And starting with the entire history of sailing would be too large a scope.

This thread IS part of my homework.
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