Traditional sailing in the Venice lagoon: the al terzo sail (lugsail)Local Traditions
Traditional sailing in the Venice lagoon: the al terzo sail (lugsail)
Across the Venice lagoon - along the bridge between Venice and Mestre, near Chioggia or when heading to Lido or the Isle of Torcello – one can easily spot traditional boats with wide colourful sails, rigged in a particular way once used on fishing boats or transport boats and common throughout the Adriatic sea: the al terzo sail (literally lugsail) so called as the spar is attached to the mast at a third of its length.
This type of sail represents the most natural transition from the very ancient classical square sails to the typical triangular sails that are common in contemporary sailing boats. The most ancient records of the use of this type of sail date back to the 17th century.
On fishing boats the sail was decorated with bright colours painted with sponges and dyes that were easily available and made of natural elements. This treatment would preserve the material as well as prove useful to spot the boat from a distance and also at night. This custom gave rise at the end of the 19th century to a true heraldry amongst fishermen.
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