With many sailors choosing to refit older cruisers, and the new top of the line cruisers from J/Boats to Euphoria sporting either fixed or retractable sprits, many are asking if a bowsprit is really necessary.
In short: If you plan on using an asymmetrical cruising chute, then yes, a bowsprit will significantly enhance the performance of your a-sail.
Many people are opting for the ease and performance offered by asymmetrical spinnakers to replace the traditional symmetrical spinnakers on their cruising boats. If you are flying an a-sail, a bowsprit will significantly enhance the performance of the sail by reducing the blanket effect of the main. The longer the sprit, the less of an effect your main will have on your chute’s performance. If you’re interested in speed, a bowsprit will also allow you to carry a larger sail. Most importantly though, a bowsprit will make shorthanded sailing much easier. A bowsprit makes maneuvers and sail handling – particularly gybing – significantly easier, a very important factor for small crews.