Sprit Rig?


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
In Memoriam
I scored a sail rig at a barn sale yesterday. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is a sprit rig, and it is currently not rigged correctly. I plan to thoroughly digest Todd's book on this particular type of rig, but in the meantime, what do you folks think of this type of rig? What are the advantages and disadvantages of sprit rigs?

Now I gotta find a boat to put it on!!:D


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Yup, that's a sprit rig and looks like a nice score.

Advantages: Hoists a goodly amount of sail area with a minimum of sticks, lines and other complications. General performance is pretty respectable. More often than not, they are used boomless - one less spar to stow/carry/mess with and no low-hanging head-bonker. They can be fitted with a brailing eyelet (reinforced grommet in the sail's aft edge, part-way down the leech) and a brail line. When pulled and cleated, the brail squashes the sail and sprit into a not terribly neat, but effective, furled bundle along the mast. This is just about the fastest way possible to furl or unfurl a sail when launching or landing.

Disadvantages: As you turn to sail downwind and let the sail out to the side, the un-boomed foot tends to curl inward toward the gunwale. This both reduces your working sail area and gives fairly bad sail shape with a lack of good downwind performance. Some folks add a full-time boom or sprit-boom to fix this, others "pole-out" the sail's clew corner when sailing downwind with some sort of temporary stick-boom to keep the bottom spread. Still others (probably most people) just live with it and don't spend a lot of time sailing deep downwind angles. On a light, easily-accelerated boat like a canoe, deep downwind angles aren't as much fun to sail anyway (slow and boring) and you can usually get there just as fast by traveling farther, but at greater speed by sailing a somewhat higher downwind angle where your sail isn't out as far and the foot isn't curling inward as much. In any case, future changes, like experimenting with a boom of some sort if you ever want to, are pretty cheap and easy.

For a canoe-sized sprit rig, the easiest way to rig it is often with no halyard. Just tie the top of the luff edge (throat corner grommet) to the masthead, and tie the bottom of the luff edge (tack corner grommet) to a downhaul cleat on the mast, lace the other luff grommets to the mast and when not sailing, the sail can be rolled around the mast for storage. If desired, a halyard can be fitted instead, allowing the sail to be hoisted up and down the mast. The sprit usually passes through a small loop of line tied through the peak grommet up top (becket) or a big grommet there and it's lower end is forced upward and tensioned by a simple snotter (small, tackle system attached to the lower mast - can have fancy little blocks or be as basic as a glorified trucker's hitch). The mainsheet is the only working control line and runs from the sail's clew corner, down and aft to a small block at deck level, then forward to the sailor. Block placement is fairly critical in order to get a good blend between downward tension on the sail's leech and tension toward the stern on the sail's foot but there are a lot of possibilities for testing the best placement (aft deck, strung from a small line between the gunwales, tied to a seat frame, etc.)

In these photos the sail has been raised with a halyard, which is then run from the masthead, down to the bow deck to function as a headstay for a bit more mast support. You can also see the brail line, running to the sails aft edge. It's slack for sailing and runs around the sail and sprit. Hauling it in and releasing the mainsheet will furl the sail against the mast.


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