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Old 01-10-2021, 08:33   #61
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

I suffer from bowsprit envy except when it comes to paying the Marina dues.
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:01   #62
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Where is it written that a longer bowsprit will decrease upwind performance ?
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:01   #63
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Originally Posted by JordanH View Post
A bar room argument is one that has no right answer but can be argued for hours on a barstool with no one caring too much about the outcome.

I've been thinking about fixed bowsprits and the arguments to support them keep going in circles. So here's my bar room argument for today. Why do fixed bowsprits make sense???

Why have a bowsprit at all?
Well, it extends the foot of a sail beyond the deck so you have more sail area of course!
Why do you need more sail area?
Because the boat is very heavy and it needs more canvas to get moving...
Ok, but if you have a heavy boat, wouldn't increasing the length of the hull provide more displacement to carry that weight AND give you more sail area?
But when you build a longer hull, you increase weight and need more sail area... so then you have to build a bowsprit...

And we go in a circle.

Another argument goes like this...

Why do you have a bowsprit?
Well, I can have a smaller boat, but have way more sail area of a much larger boat!
Yah... but don't you pay for slips, winter storage and canvas based on the overall length?
Hmmm... yeah, that is more expensive.
But you get the performance limitations/drag of a short water line, right?
Hmmm... yeah... that too.
But it looks pretty!

So from my bar stool, I can't think of a good case for a fixed bowsprit other than, "They look pretty." I keep coming to the conclusion that the boat is designed too heavy and I'll end up paying more for less performance. Feel free to support or oppose that opinion, I'm not attached to it.

(Please note, retractable bowsprits for downwind sails are not in scope.)


FWIW, I have no horse in this race, I was just pondering this last night while looking at pictures of a couple pretty boats.
Your two scenarios are total wrong. Clearly you donít understand why bowsprits are used. First they are def on specialty sails. No one buys a bigger jib or Genoa. The are used with Code 0 or Asymmetrical sails. The purpose is to create space from the Genoa or Jib. Without a bowsprit you will get disturbed air thus defeating the purpose of the specialty sail. Secondly a bow sprit can be used to separate an anchor being deployed or retrieved from banging against the hull. One good ding and your argument about extra cost is mute. Some bowsprits are retractable. Meaning they are deployed when you are using the specialty sails. Another great advantage is you can easily raise your specialty sail without having to take you jib down. I can also put the specialty sail up on a furler. Then roll it out when I want to use it and roll it back in when Iím done.

Lastly your argument about costs has some merit. On some boats that have retractable sprits it wonít matter. If you have a 2í sprit and feel that will impact your cost of ownership you most likely canít afford any of the specialty sails anyways. If you are even having this conversation you probably donít know enough about specialty sails to use them. Again it makes this a moot exercise.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:28   #64
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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In a collision they act as a crumple zone, and in a lower speed collision, they reduce or eliminate damage to the hull. Oops.
It's for spearing other boats so they can't get away while your trying to board them. Bwahahahaha!
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Old 01-10-2021, 13:10   #65
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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I have no doubt that originally they were used to increase sail area without having to use taller masts - what in the old days with the materials at disposition was not so easy and implies in higher stresses on rigg and hull. Also a larger foot of the sailplan makes lateral balancing - weatherhelm - and manouvering under sail easier. Any sail handling advantage or disadvantage may differ from case to case.

Capt. Claus - ocean tramp of the eighties
As you say, I think it's mostly a remnant of the old technological limitations and people thinking they look salty.

It's not a cruising issue but race rules that don't accurately account for it could favor sprits when you compare two boats of identical LOH/LWL.

For a cruising boat, you can extend the hull while adding negligible extra weight or cost (assuming you do if from the start/not a retrofit)...this does assume you don't try to fill the extra space.

Of course, this is referring to the big long bow sprits. A couple feet to accommodate the anchor roller or add an extra stay for an additional sail is a bit different.
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Old 01-10-2021, 13:13   #66
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Exclamation Hours on a barstool? No.

Girls love bowsprits
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Old 01-10-2021, 13:52   #67
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Except that's not where the anchors are stored and/or deployed. Have you ever seen an anchor at the front end of a bowsprit?
Anchors on sailboats are usually deployed at the foot of the bowsprit, should the boat have one. On a large boat (actually a ship) anchors are deployed from a cathead.

Regarding heavy boats and sprits, the thinking here is probably correct. Bowsprits were generally used on working ships carrying heavy loads, rather than sailboats carrying heavy sailors :-). But a sailboat without a sprit looks like an amputee, at least to me. They allow for a more flexible and better balanced sail plan, as on a cutter rig.
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Old 01-10-2021, 14:06   #68
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Thanks to the OP for the post. Makes for entertaining and thought provoking reading.
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Old 01-10-2021, 14:45   #69
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

In olden days the bowsprit enabled more sail to be carried on a shorter mast and to split the area of the canvas. Hence flying jib etc. It is possible that sprit sails are less efficient. They do not have the deck sweeping advantage of a bow hoisted Genoa or the very low mainsail on the recent America’s Cup boats. In these cases air cannot escape below.
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Old 01-10-2021, 16:31   #70
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Seems to me, itís too early for this argument. A lot of folks are just now getting around to winterizing their boats. Maybe in 6 weeks or so when the cabin fever starts to set in, posing this whole debate would be right on time!
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Old 01-10-2021, 19:01   #71
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

Dear wingsail. For the cruising sailor I have no problem with putting an asymetric on the bow instead of a bowsprit. However there is no doubt that for a racing boat the asymetric will work better and over a wider range on a bowsprit. It has evolved over time and now virtually all offshore racing boats racing out of Sydney have bowsprits and asymetrics and don't even carry a spinnaker pole
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Old 01-10-2021, 20:17   #72
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Originally Posted by girdasso View Post
Dear wingsail. For the cruising sailor I have no problem with putting an asymetric on the bow instead of a bowsprit. However there is no doubt that for a racing boat the asymetric will work better and over a wider range on a bowsprit. It has evolved over time and now virtually all offshore racing boats racing out of Sydney have bowsprits and asymetrics and don't even carry a spinnaker pole
Designs have changed.

Virtually all "newer" racing boats have plumb bows and most of them have non-overlapping headsails and hulls designed for reaching performance. They need bow sprits to project an asymmetrical out ahead of the boat on a reach, and without poles they can only reach. They also pay a dear rating penalty for those sprits.

But if you watch the extended video coverage of the Sydney Hobart start, you will see many boats in the slower classes, (older boats but racing boats nevertheless) sailing with symmetrical kites and spinnaker poles, and no bowsprits. I know, I sail in races with both types of boats and I sailed in Sydney Hobart.

My point to the OP is that, if your boat was not designed for a bowsprit, and is not one of these newer designed boats, there is little benefit to adding a bowsprit. The boat will sail the same wind angles as a newer, bowsprit equipped boat, and you can still gybe it.

If you want to look cool, buy a bowsprit. But you don't need it and it won't do much for you other than change your rating.
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Old 01-10-2021, 21:31   #73
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

It tells you which end is the front .
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Old 01-10-2021, 21:56   #74
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

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Originally Posted by ArmyDaveNY View Post
In a collision they act as a crumple zone, and in a lower speed collision, they reduce or eliminate damage to the hull. Oops.
I don't like to talk about this in public (gulp, am I really going to publish this), but my bowsprit saved my life, and my families lives, in just this way, 20 years ago. Although I don't know if you call 8k a lower speed collision, I am convinced I would have lost 5 ft of bow instead of 5ft of teak if the sprit wasn't there (actually its more of a platform) in which case the entire outcome could have been completely different.

Although the stout construction of the vessel in general deserves a lot of credit, the sprit did indeed reduce hull damage to almost nothing, considering what we hit (container ship). I make this comment now as much to sing the praises of my bowsprit, but also as a way to sneak in a warning to others not to do what I did, unless you have a bowsprit...

See more:
December 2001
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Old 02-10-2021, 05:39   #75
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Re: A circular bar room argument... how do fixed bowsprits make sense?

I agree with your list of bowsprit benefits -


I have been assessing adding a bowsprit as I have a split reacher made from spinnaker sail cloth folded spread out alike a butterfly wings with a luff down the middle on a torque rope for a Profurl Nex 5.

It used to be hanked on the outer forestay it was just too much sail to load and take down at 120 2meters or 1290' square feet, now I want to set this sail ahead of the outer forestay say about 75 cm or about 2.5 feet on a bowsprit. Question is which one, my boat is a masthead cutter rig, 50' 8.5 tons displacement build from Aluminium.

Since I just rebuild the boat, including the deck, I'm trying to find a suitable bowsprit that will not break the bank or ruin the new paint job or deck. It can be fixed or removable. Attached are photos of the foredeck my boat has a round bow. Any ideas of solutions. Long shot ask- Happy to buy a 2nd had carbon bowsprit if someone has one for sale?

Thanks for your suggestions a head of time.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Symphony View Post
genuine long bowsprit puts your sailplan focus on downwind/tradewind sailing.
Sprit gives plenty of room for Twinhead sails of a cutter rig.
Sprit thrusts your largest pulling sails into clean air ahead of the main and any mizzen.
Sprit moves the center of effort forward, helping to balance the boat and keep the Stern light in following waves in sporty tradewind conditions.
Sprit Increases the possible foot length of the foretriangle, then you can reduce the aspect ratio and mast height. reduces the workload on crew as well as rolling of the boat.
Low aspect-ratio rig is terrible for upwind/ downwind around the buoys racing, but very helpful for long distance downwind tradewind following seas conditions.

A nephew of Lyle Hess helped me install an 8 foot retractable bowsprit on my Santa Cruz 27 in 1990. It was a good way to help that boat on the spinnaker runs while keeping my marina cost to a minimum. My boat was as fast as a Santa Cruz 50, but difficult to control due to the massive power we could carry with only the tiny thin racing keel.
Attached Thumbnails
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