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Bowsprit held down by a bobstay
Bowsprit with forestays and bobstays

The bowsprit of a sailing vessel is a spar extending forward from the vessel's prow. It provides an anchor point for the forestays, allowing the fore-mast to be stepped farther forward on the hull.[1] The bowsprit is typically held down by a bobstay that counteracts the forces from the forestays. The word bowsprit is thought to originate from the Middle Low German word bōchsprētbōch meaning "bow" and sprēt meaning "pole".[2]

It is sometimes used to hold up the figurehead.


  1. ^ "Bitts & Bobs(tays)". CLASSIC MARINE. Archived from the original on 21 December 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Bowsprit". Retrieved 15 November 2012.