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starship-design: Sail types

I have a question about starships using some kind of sail for
propulsion.  All of the sail proposals i have seen rely on direct
pressure for their drive.  Although i realize that what i'm about to ask
wouldn't work for light, could a directed relatavistic particle beam (or
solar wind) be used to create an "aerodynamic" form of thrust?  This has
several advantages, at least at sea on earth, which is where i'm taking
this from.  A modern sailboat sails fastest when the wind is on its
beam.  It will sail much faster than a square rigged boat of similar
hull, sail area, and waterline length running before the wind.
Furthermore it is easier to control. Also, modern sailboats can sail up
to 45 degrees (appx) into the wind.  If this could be translated to
space it could help fix the "return" problem for star sail trips. 
Anyway, all this is very nice, but i have no idea if it is even
theoretically possible in space using charged particles instead of air.
Nels Lindberg