Although wingsails or rigid wings have risen to the limelight in the contemporary sailing world with the America’s Cup now employing the technology across the board, they are in no way a brand new concept. A sail, after all, in its purest form is essentially a wing. So, through the decades, many designers, looking for optimum performance, have of course instituted rigid wings (just like that of an airplane). A notable example would be the so called Little America’s Cup, a long-standing catamaran contest based around the pursuit of pure speed.
The schooner is another split rig plan, like the ketch and yawl, but really fell out of favor after having a very dominant place in sailing history for quite a long time. Early in the 18th century on into the 19th they became widely popular for their speed, versatility, and upwind prowess, which by today’s standards is not good, but at the time was surely better than the larger unwieldy ships of the day.
By definition, a schooner is a sailboat with at least two masts, with the forward mast (foremast) being a bit shorter than the main mast. Although a schooner can have more than two masts, most were just two. During the time of their popularity this smaller and better upwind set up allowed for a more efficient and manageable sailboat. It was the preferred choice of pirates, privateers, slaveship captains and others.