Running rigging

Standing rigging is left, running rigging right.

Running rigging is the rigging of a sailing vessel that is used for raising, lowering and controlling the sails - as opposed to the standing rigging, which supports the mast and other spars.

Traditionally the running rigging was easily recognized since, for flexibility, it was not coated with tar and therefore of a lighter color than the standing rigging which was tarred for protection from weather and therefore darker or even black in color.


In centuries past, a ship's rigging was typically fashioned from rope. In the 19th century this was commonly referred to as Manilla, a reference to the origin of much good quality rope. On modern vessels, running rigging is likely to be made from synthetic fibers, while the standing rigging is most often fashioned from stainless steel "wire rope". Since the 1990s, several new synthetic fibers have become common, particularly on racing and other high-performance sailing boats. These fibers include Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) (also known as Spectra or Dynema), Vectran, and Technora.

Running rigging of a modern, fore-and-aft rigged sailboat or yacht

Running rigging of a square-rigged ship

A square rigged ship requires much more running rigging, and therefore much larger crews than a modern sailboat.


Seamanship in the Age of Sail, John Harland, 1984 & 1985, Conway Maritime Press, an imprint of Brassey's (UK) Ltd.

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