Language: jargon: sailing

Sprit Naut.

  1. A relatively light spar used to pole out a sail.
  2. A quadrilateral sail set using a sprit, usually rigged with the heel of the sprit near the sail's tack and the spindle of the nose inserted through the peak becket.

The sprit pokes through the peak of the sail, and is tensioned at the mast, to spread the sail. Usually a sprit is used on an unstayed mast, and the rig will rotate when changing tacks. The sprit will unavoidably girt the sail on one tack, but is very weatherly even so.

The spritsail rig is one of the most universal sailing rigs, and there is archeological evidence for its spontaneous development in Europe, North and South America, and Africa. (It almost certainly was a precursor to the Chinese lug rig, but there's no specific evidence to date.) The rig was the last truly commercial sailing rig in Europe, with the Thames Barges still in commission in the 1960s. The modern use of the sprit is primarily in small boats, especially dinghies, but were built into the hundred plus foot lengths for shipping.

The rig also includes some of the most colorful jargon in sailing, including the most memorable line name - the snotter, which is used to pull up on the sprit and thereby flatten the sail.

  • Collins; Canadian English Dictionary; HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.; © 2004 Collins
  • Edwards, Fred; Sailing as a Second Language; International Marine Publishing Company; © 1988 Highmark Publishing Ltd.
  • Marino, Emiliano; The Sailmaker's Apprentice: A guide for the self-reliant sailor; International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; © 1994 International Marine
  • Roberts, Bob; Last of the Sailormen; Whitstable Litho Ltd.; © 1960 Bob Roberts