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Re: Swept back spreaders
The modern transition to sweptback spreaders is to eliminate the running backstays, checkstays and babystay while keeping the mast itself somewhat light and flexible.
Another factor was that racing boats were becoming quicker downwind, sailing much higher angles, so their was not so much need to have the main way out. And somebody figured out how to make the standing rig parts all smooth so the main didn't get abraded too badly.
I've never heard of the sheeting angle advantage. It is not obvious why this would be. Generally the spreaders are longer when swept back, and the shroud loads greater, so it is not obvious how a smaller sheeting angle would be one of the benefits. Smaller sheeting angles are achieved by using more...3,4,5... spreaders.
Switching from one design to the other is very complicated (expensive). Just for accommodating mast lowering for bridges would not seem worthwhile. Make some temporary lower shrouds to control the mast while lowering.
"...there are two kinds of opinions, those based upon tradition ... and those having something in their favor." B. Russell