OCC Forums

Best Practices in Junk Rig Sailing


By David.Tyler - 28 Apr 2015

Daria has asked me to think about contributing a paper under this heading. I think it would be better to get this written by a small team of Junkies, so I 've raised the topic on the JRA forum.

Meanwhile, here 's a paper written by one of our members, to get the subject under way:
By alshaheen - 29 Apr 2015

This article is really interesting. I would welcome more exposure of the JR alternative within the OCC. For years and years I think the JR people have been regarded by the greater sailing community as a bunch of cranks and, in the leisure sector,the junk rig is still a tiny majority. With all its advantages why is it that it has not gained greater recognition? Is it because the major designers and mass production boat manufacturers have never looked seriously at it? What can be done to give it greater exposure and recognition?
By David.Tyler - 29 Apr 2015

I think there are a number of reasons:

Conservatism: "It 's not like anything I 'm used to, and I don 't understand it, therefore I 'm sure I won 't like it".

Not Invented Here: If it 's not a "Western" rig, it must be primitive. This ignores the fact that the bermudan rig is a relative latecomer, with only about a century of history, whereas the Chinese rig has about a millennium of history, and until political influences shut down development of it, was streets ahead of anything the West could make. It 's interesting to speculate on how things would be if China hadn 't ceased development on many technical fronts, a few centuries ago. Now, of course, they 're catching up and overtaking the West, rapidly, and rediscovering what they 'd forgotten about. Maybe they 'll get into leisure sailing soon. They already make tapered aluminium alloy tubes for streetlighting (these make good unstayed masts), so they could very easily make a 21st century Chinese rig.

"Junk rigs don 't go to windward so well": This was true, up until recently. Hasler & McLeod, in codifying the rig so that it could be easily understood and built by Westerners, left out the ways in which the Chinese put camber into their sails. Now, we 're making sails with camber, and while there 's nothing that will go fast to windward in light to moderate airs so well as a big genoa, we 're doing quite well enough for cruising purposes. And of course, we do better in all other sailing conditions. If you 're not racing, where going fast to windward in light to moderate airs is all-important, then JR holds the advantage.

But most of all, modern marketing and accounting: If the salesmen don 't think they can sell it, and the money men don 't think they can make a profit on it, then they won 't make it. And the average boat buyer, today, is not going to make the rig himself, or commission someone else to make it - he expects to go to a boat show and order a finished boat, just choosing from amongst an offering of add-ons or alternatives. The exceptions, in the UK, were Newbridge Boats and Kingfisher Yachts, both of which companies had Managing Directors who could see the advantages. They both had reasonable take-up of their JR alternative to the bermudan rig, with the result that there is a fleet of JR boats up to 26ft, in the UK. This didn 't happen in Europe or N America. And if you wanted a JR boat larger than 26ft, you had to do it yourself, and for that, you had to believe strongly enough that you were doing the right thing.

What can be done to give it greater exposure and recognition? Well, I 'll just keep doing what I 'm doing, I guess - making coastal and ocean passages with a lot less stress and hard work than with bermudan rig.
By David.Tyler - 11 May 2015

Here 's another piece of writing that "tells it like it is", from a regular cruising couple who built their own boat, live aboard and cover a lot of miles:http://cruisingashiki.blogspot.ca/p/blog-page.html

A quotation:
"Finding the bermudan rig on our previous boat so cumbersome (I didn 't know it in the beginning, everyone accepts "cumbersome" as the norm), I can 't think of anything that is lost sailing wise. The bermudan is a very "manual" rig, and extremely un-versatile. You have to clamber all over to change anything. That all disappears with the junk. (I have noticed the modern solution to combat the Bermudan 's un-versatility is to simply motor.)"