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The wind was taking off in gusts, and the rain was putting down the swells. I made out a patch of beach that looked less like death than the rest of the arena, and I decided to drive in on a gust under the spitfire-sprit-- and, if she answered her helm before she died on us, to humour her a shade to starboard, where the water looked better. I stayed the foremast; set the spritsail fore and aft, as though we were boarding; told Sulinor to have the rudders down directly he cut the cables; waited till a gust came; squared away the sprit, and drove.'

This is from "The Manner of Men" by Kipling.
https://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/LimitsRenewals/mannermen.html

I can't understand the meaning of this phrase:

as though we were boarding

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"Boarding" is a nautical term. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_boarding

The phrase simply means that the sails were configured the way they would be for boarding.

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