WHAT’S WITH THAT SPAR?
Q: I’m following the Volvo Ocean Race and at the start of the first leg I noticed what looked like whisker poles protruding out from the cockpit with what appeared to be the jib sheets running through the far end of the poles. What are these and what is their purpose? I have not seen this before. William Vandever, email@example.com
BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES
Those struts that you noticed protruding from the cockpit of a Volvo 65 are called outriggers, or in some cases, reaching struts. They are deck mounted and supported fore and aft as well as having a line that runs to the side of the deck that stops the strut from rising up. The sheets from various sails are then run through a block mounted on the outboard end, which allows for different sheeting angles. An asymmetrical spinnaker, for example, will benefit from a wider sheeting angle, and the outrigger makes that possible.
Note how the outrigger gets the jib lead far outboard