|Bertil Andersson's drawing of Lotsbat Skum|
After much head-scratching, I settled on the spritsail with a flying jib (i.e. a headsail not hanked onto a stay), having been influenced by the writing of a number of people, of whom Phil Bolger was the most influential.
Why the spritsail? Here are my reasons: -
- I wanted the shortest practical spars, and in particular, I want to be able to store the spars inside the boat. Several reputable authorities had written that the spritsail sets the maximum sail area on the minimum length mast;
- A jib or staysail would be nice when sailing to windward - particularly a flying jib on an un-stayed mast;
- The rigging needed to be very simple, and preferably easy to make and repair by hand using wood and line;
- It was important to me that the centre-of-areas in the sail-plan be as low as possible to reduce the heeling moment;
- The possibility of using the mainsail as a boomless sail as well as being usable with aboom was desirable. In really tough conditions, a boomless sail is a safety feature, as there is no boom to trip during a knockdown - you can alway ease a boomless sail but not so a boomed one;
- A spritsail can be brailed if properly set-up.
In the case of the spritsail, the sprit is placed under considerable compression by the snotter at the lower end (the heel end of the sprit). This compression is required to hold the head of the mainsail up and out and to keep the head of the mainsail taut.
|Here you can see how the sprit pushes the head of the mainsail upwards and outwards|
|Phoenix III getting to windward in fresh conditions with the jib standing very well, despite the lack of stays. In most other free-standing rigs the luff of the jib would be sagging badly.|
No rig is perfect, but the sprit rig offers simplicity, drive, low centre-of-area, short spars, and the ability to set a jib effectively without any stays. Perhaps the Scandinavians, Melanesians, Chinese, Dorymen, and Thames Bargemen, to name just a few, were several steps ahead of us...