Originally Posted by jackdale
Boom vang or kicking strap?
, the preferred term in the UK, was a horse harness term.
The term is documented by the Oxford English
Dictionary (OED) since 1861: "They had‥his belly-band buckled across his back, and no kicking strap."
So a kicking strap was originally a strap to prevent a horse kicking its hind legs (and so disturbing the gentle folks sitting in the carriage behind).
The OED records the transfer of the term to sailing in 1951: "It is to prevent the boom from lifting that a kicking strap is fitted." The OED details the use of the term further with a citation from 1961: "It is in a gybe that a kicking-strap proves its worth, since it holds down the after end of the boom thereby allowing complete control to be maintained over the sail at all stages of the manœuvre."
and boom vang
have a longer history
, dating to the days of square rigs (instead of the more recent fore-and-aft/Marconi/Bermudian rigs). The OED (again, the best authority for first appearance of a term in Engllish) dates the first appearance of vang to 1769 in Falconer's marine
dictionary where vang
is used in two definitions: "Brace:
The mizen-yard is furnished with fangs, or vangs, in the room of braces."; and "Vangs
: a sort of braces to support the mizen gaff, and keep it steady."
Note that first citation from Falconer in 1769: "fangs, or vangs". That suggests that vang
was a spelling and pronunciation variant of fang
. The OED records a first use of the nautical term fang in early Modern English
in 1513: "Now the lie scheit, and now the luf, thai slak, Set in a fang, and threw the ra abak". That etymological line leads all the way back to the concept
of a fang
as something that captures or seizes, to hold steady and so on.
The earliest published use of boom vang
I found was in 1948, where it was used as a synonym for kicking strap
(and incidentally predated the OED's 1948 record
for kicking strap
): "boom vang (or kicking strap, as some call it)". I do not have the resources of the OED, so I cannot guarantee that boom vang was not used in print earlier than 1948 (and the 1948 citation I found is further evidence that the OED is not the perfect source for sailing terms - the readers for the OED just don't read specialist sailing magazines or the catalogs of marine suppliers).
Make of all that what you will (and depending on your viewpoint).
My view is partly influenced by the ideas of Jacques Derrida and what he called deconstruction in looking at a text and its meanings. So I see kicking strap as a term that the British horse-and-carriage owning class would have used. And of course that socio-economic class strata in Britain also overlapped with the owners of recreational yachts.
And I dare to extend that to the sort of chaps from good family backgrounds who might be RYA trainers at good yachting clubs with the 'Royal' prefix, who might pass on their disdain for non-U (read as "non-upper class") terms to those trained by them (and hence to the person Jack Dale met, to explain that person's laughter at anyone using a term not authorised as proper by the unwritten guidelines of the 'right' socio-economic class.
Or it might just be that the RYA-trained person who scoffed at Jack Dale's use of boom vang was a simple person, not well read and with narrow contact with the wider community, who simply was hearing boom vang for the first time.
Either way, the person who scoffed at JD's use of boom vang
likely qualifies as a prat
: A person of no account; a dolt, a fool, a ‘jerk’.
The OED glosses prat
1968 "He had been looking for the exact word to describe David and now he found it: prat."
1973 "Harris was a bit of a pompous prat."
1980 "The pompous prat. The I-know-people-in-high-places nut."