(from the Introduction of 'Rigging"by Danilo Fabbroni, ed. Incontri Nautici, p. 7-9).

Many times in the past, I have wondered deeply about the meaning of a book on rigging and especially what the meaning of such a book might be in Italy. The question is only apparently idle. And in any case, before talking about rigging, the concept of yachting should be clarified and brought into sharp focus. In this regard I will recite offhand the beautiful definition given by Carlo Sciarrelli in his inimitable book The Yacht: "...the common characteristic (of the yacht) is that it is used for walking around in the manner most pleasing to the owner" *.

Within the overall framework of this wandering about the sea for fun, which is yachting, as opposed to sailing for profit [...] the branch of rigging is only one piece of the whole sailing mosaic. A piece, yes, but a vital one. A tile that effectively unites the hull, mast and sails into a whole, and allows the crew to enhance the boat's performance according to the needs of the moment. On the other hand, drawing a comparison with the automotive sector, how much would an engine, even the best in its field, be worth without proper transmission components? Well, rigging is nothing more than the set of transmission components that have the task of transmitting the power stored in the sails to the hull. In this regard, I would like to recount a significant episode to illustrate what rigging means.

In the late summer of 1985 I had to bring the Brava Les Copainesa racing boat, from Porto Cervo to Palma de Mallorca, where the world championship was being held. One Ton Cup. During the transfer, the alternator belt broke: I remedied the serious inconvenience that would shortly leave us without any instruments on board due to the lack of power by building a new belt made by splicing a piece of Kevlar rope onto itself, which lasted until our arrival in port. The sense, function and purpose of rigging is to transmit the energy potential from the sails to the hull. And this is achieved both with fixed rigging, known as dormancy, which holds the mast in position, and with mobile rigging, known as running rigging, which serves instead to raise and trim the sails.

If we take a look at a vocabulary, theOrlandn this case, we find the following definitions under the heading of rigging:

  1. rigger (of a ship); preparer; rigger; belt pulley (mechanical); vessel with protruding scales (navy); vessel equipped in a certain way;
  2. dishonest person; hoarder **;
  3. equipment (of a ship); truss.
[...] But the most beautiful, precise and dazzling definition of rigging that I know belongs to a rigger from Maine, Brion Toss, which goes like this: "Rigging is the art of moving, and holding still, things with ropes and knots"***. The terms ropes and pulleys have been used on purpose because contrary to the - how shall I put it? narrow view of the yachtsman, rigging does not only and solely mean the halyards, sheets, shrouds, blocks and winches of a sailing boat, but instead is a vast field ranging from the ropes of huge harbour cranes to the small tackle used to open the sunshade on the terrace; the myriad of tie-rods that support a colossal bridge like the one in Denmark and the four ropes that allow us to hang out our laundry; the infinity of rod rods that are the backbone of the pyramid of I.M.Pei. In front of the Louvre in Paris, such as the special recovery rope used by mountain rescue helicopters.

We must take the same broad view when we talk about the rig. In fact, the rig does not only mean the type of rigging of a sailboat, but also the framework that holds up a theatre stage, or musical****, and even the scaffolding that is used to maintain a building.

It is likely that the current Anglo-Saxon term rigging had a distant origin (similar to the genoa, from Genoa) from the ancient Italian riggewhich designated systems formed by "iron rods, or chains, with one end attached to the trowel collar of the main spars or u an appropriate collar placed immediately below the trowel collar, known as the riggia collar"*****.

Now [...] I have focused on what the sailor, regardless of whether he is a helmsman of a Optimist or the owner of a Maxi, an incurable globetrotter of a cruising boat or an unbridled racer of a racing boat, wants to know, to know and to master, taking it for granted that he is already capable of boating: is one's boat best equipped for the tasks it is called upon to perform? [...] I have always maintained that even an Alpine - properly educated - could splice beautifully: splicing is not the art of contention. Bernard Moitessier used to say that life is too short to learn how to splice! Splices are useful pieces in a rigging discourse, but knowing how to splice does not automatically mean either being a rigger or understanding when and why to choose one rigging manoeuvre over another. If the reader, reading these writings, understands this last 'why', he or she will certainly not have become a rigger, but certainly a more competent sailor, and I will have achieved my goal.

* Carlo Sciarrelli, The YachtEd. Mursia, p. 5.

** Reading the lumping of the term rigger with dishonesty brought a smile to my face: perhaps some literature on the subject could help the yachtsman sort wool from silk.

*** Brion Toss, The Rigging HandbookAdlard Coles Nautical, p. XIV.

**** In this regard, it is significant that in the Anglo-Saxon world, the team that sets the stage for bands is called a 'crew' like the crew of a boat, and 'rig a stage' translates to 'rig the stage'.

***** O. Curti, "The Complete Book of Naval Equipment"Mursia, p. 126.