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A yawl flying genoa, main, and mizzen sails

A yawl is a two-masted sailing craft whose mainmast is taller than the mizzen mast. Compared to the similar ketch, a yawl's mizzen mast is set further aft and its mizzen sail is smaller.[1] The word yawl was first record in the 1600s and derives from the Dutch jol. Historically the term was also used for a ship's boat with oars.[2] While the classic looks of the rig is considered attractive, it is less efficient than a ketch,[3] and is rarely seen on modern yachts.[4]

The yawl was originally developed for fishing boats, for example the Salcombe Yawl.[5] It became popular with single-handed sailors such as circumnavigators Francis Chichester and Joshua Slocum.[6] This was because the sail-plan helped keep the boat on course. Yawls were built for yacht racing in the 1950s and '60s because of a handicapping loophole where boats were not penalized for having a mizzen sail, although it was advantageous in a tail wind.[6]. Nowadays the configuration is less popular since modern self-steering and navigation aids are a better solution to the same problem.

Concordia yawls have been successful racing vessels, as was Dorade, Stormy Weather, and Olin Stephens' Finisterre.


  1. ^ "Yawl". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Yawl". dictionary.com. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  3. ^ "What's in a Rig? The Yawl". American Sailing Association. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Sailboat Rig Types: Sloop, Cutter, Ketch, Yawl, Schooner, Cat". Jordan Yact and Shop Co. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  5. ^ "History". Salcombe Yawl Owners' Association. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Yawls". Retrieved 16 May 2019.

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