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Sprit Rig

The Sprit Rig

The sprit rig is a very simple and efficient rig for small boats. No standing rigging is required and this rotating rig has a low center of effort. When not in use, the short mast and sprit usually fit in the hull. It is economical and versatile. the sprit rig carries a larger sail for it's mast height than a marconi rig.
The rig can be used with or without a boom.
No hardware is erquired: the sail is simply laced to the mast.

In small boats like our PK78, D4 etc., the throat is lashed to to the top of the mast with a knot or a spliced eye: See drawing.
The throat must be firmly held against the mast.

In case of a fixed throat (no halyard), the sail is laced to the mast with robands or with a line in spiral: from the throat, around the mast, in an eyelet, around the mast again, eyelet etc., always turning the same way.

No halyard is required on the small boats but for larger ones like our Sharpie14, a simple halyard is used. In that case, the lacing is of the back and forth type, see drawing.

In each case, the lower corner (tack) is pulled down by a short line turned around a cleat on the mast or to somewhere on the boat. The cleat on the mast allows the spar to turn which is better for sailing performance but a if the tack line is turned on the hull, it will keep the mast in place in the very rare case of capsize.

The peak of the sail is tied to one end of the sprit, the other end is attached to the mast with the snotter.

The snotter can be a simple line attached to the end of the sprit and tied to the mast with a clove hitch.
The proper location the mast must be found for a good sail shape: move it up and down until your sail looks right, with equal tension all over.

For larger sprit sails, we show a reef line on our sail plans. BTW, despite what some of our drawings show, a sprit sail should be cut with vertical panels.

One detail that makes life with larger sprit sails easy is the brail line. This line (see first drawing) goes from an eyelet on the leech to a block at the throat and from there, back to the mast foot. It allows you to quickly furl the sail by pulling it up along the mast.

Rigging procedure for a small sprit rig:

Ashore, with the sail spread on the grass (or beach), lace the sail's luff to the mast. Tie the throat first, lace then tighten the tack line down.
If it's windy, try to get your sail flat, in light winds, leave some slack in the lines. This has to be done only the first time: you will probably leave the sail laced to the mast. Simply relieve the tension on the tack line for storage. Tie the end of the sprit to the peak, snotter to the other end of the sprit. Tie snotter to mast.
A braided line is used as a sheet. Pick the whole thing up, step it in the boat and you are ready to go.

While sailing, pay attention to the sheet angle: it is very important with a loose footed sail. Close to the wind, the sheet should be aligned with a diagonal going from throat to clew.
Proper sheeting depends on the wind strength and your course. We don't show cleats or fairleads on our sail plans for small sprit rigs: you should keep the sheet in your hand. Once used to the boat, it is easy to install belaying pins on the Sharpie14 rubrail but for all others, simply keep the sheet in hand.

To learn more about sprit rigs, see in our bookstore: "Sailmaker's Apprentice" and "Skiffs and Schooners".

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