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Diabolically Arcane

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Ahoy All Ye Maties!

6 September, 2010

Coming home with a wet sail…..

You may have heard the phrase on Letters & Numbers – or across the first week of finals in the AFL. Sports callers love it. Good teams do it. And good yachts too, no doubt.

By my reckoning, the phrase means ‘to finish a contest strongly, in particular from a trailing position, looming as a possible late winner’.

Do we agree with the definition? Feel free to adjust. But please with salt on top, who can tell from where the phrase originates?

Theories abound like seagulls on a chip. One quiz viewer suggests that sailors deliberately wet their sails to give them a telling weight advantage in strong wind. Another nautical fan: to race so close to the wind that your vessel dips into the water. While a third theory says that if your sails hit the water, you’ve naturally struck a setback. Therefore, to come home with a wet sail is to recover from this misfortune.

I’m at sea, people. Are all these yarns good? None good? Some good? Please, if any matey with brine in the blood could be so kind….

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