Thingamabobber. Doohickey. Those are two of the PG-rated names I’ve heard for the contraptions small-boat sailors affix to the bows of their boats to keep errant spinnaker sheets from dropping into the water. Alex Kirkpatrick simply calls his “sprit.”
Kirkpatrick is J/22 fleet captain for New Jersey’s Riverton Yacht Club and founder of Kablooey, a company that distributes gear for Gill and other brands. He also designs and manufactures a range of clever gear for small boats, everything from anodized aluminum/ closed-cell foam trailer pads to the high-density polyethylene sprit we used on the J/22 this summer. My favorite invention is Hank’s Wacky Weed Stick, customized to fit the leading edge of a J/22 rudder.
At $25, Kablooey’s HPDE sprit probably costs less than the spare batten you taped to your bow and promptly lost halfway up the first beat. To mount the plastic sprit or its aluminum relative ($32.50), disconnect the headstay and slide the part over the tang. What I like about the HPDE sprit is that, although it mounts securely, it’s flexible enough not to damage other boats—or your own headstay tang—in bumper-boat situations. While we were waiting for the hoist at J/22 North Americans in August, our sprit caught the edge of the dock, bent back, and snapped into place. No harm, no foul.