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The word "burgee" has two meanings. First, with reference to flag shape, the word denotes any flag that ends in a swallow tail; this type of flag can be made either straight (e.g., International Code of Signals flags A and B) or tapering (e.g., the State flag of the US state of Ohio). Second, the word is used to mean a distinguishing flag, regardless of its shape, of a recreational boating organization, such as a yacht or sailing club. Many --in fact, the majority of-- such organizational flags are actually made in a pennant shape (i.e., a three-sided flag), but they are nevertheless all referred to as 'burgees.'
Yacht clubs and their members may fly their club's burgee while under way and at anchor, day or night, but not while racing. Sailing vessels may fly the burgee either from the main masthead or from a halyard under the lowermost starboard spreader. Most all powerboats (i.e., those lacking any mast or having a single mast) fly the burgee off a short staff at the bow; two-masted power vessels fly the burgee at the foremast.
The officers of a yacht club may fly various burgees appropriate to their rank: for example, the commodore may fly a swallow-tailed version of the club burgee (and the vice- and rear-commodores the same, but distinguished by the addition of one or two balls respectively at the canton). A past-commodore may also be given a distinctively-shaped flag.
Traditionally, the first time a member of one yacht club visits another, there is an exchange of burgees. Exchanged burgees are then often displayed on the club's premises, e.g., in the office or bar. On "Opening Day", sailors fly their burgees together.
1.HE Web Design. "International Burgee Registry." . 21 Sept. 1998. Halling Enterprises. 28 July.2009 <http://www.burgees.com/burgeeframe.htm>. 2.Bakker, Jarig. "History of Yacht Club-burgees (Germany)." WWW.crwflags.com. 11 Nov. 2006. Web. 28 July 2009. <http://email@example.com>.
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