- A small sail hoisted above the topgallant sail.
The 17th century.
The term possibly came from the idea that anything royal or regal was the best. In many vessels, this could be the highest sail hoisted.
These sails would also be used only in light and favorable winds.
King, D., Hattendorf, J.B, & Estes, J.W. (1997). A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (2nd Ed.). Owl Books.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.