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. 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 bōchsprēt – bōch meaning "bow" and sprēt meaning "pole".
It is sometimes used to hold up the figurehead.
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