On large sailing ships a spritsail is a square-rigged sail carried on a yard below the bowsprit. One of the earliest depictions of a spritsail is carved on Borobudur ship carving in Borobudur temple, Indonesia.
Spritsails were commonly used on sailing vessels from the first carracks until about 1800. Until the mid-18th century, most ships also flew a sprit-topsail from the short sprit topmast that rose vertically above the fore end of the bowsprit.
The full-rigged ships of the golden age of sail had no spritsails, as the area under the bowsprit was instead occupied by rigging (martingales and dolphin striker) that reinforced the bowsprit and jib-boom against the forces of an increasing number of jibs.
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- Mastini, Frank (1990). Ship Modeling Simplified: tips and techniques for model building from kits. McGraw-Hill. p. 63. ISBN 0-07-155867-5. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Jamieson, Alexander (1829). A Dictionary of Mechanical Science. Vol. II. London: Henry Fisher, Son & Co. p. 956. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- E. T. Dankwa (1999). "The Development of Square-Rigged Ships". Retrieved 2011-01-14.