The Top 50 Advantages of Junk Rig

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by David Tyler, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    Recently on the Junk Rig Association forum, at www.junkrigassociation.org members were invited to list the advantages that junk rig has over other cruising rigs. As a result, an article has been compiled of the top 50 for the forthcoming JRA magazine, and I thought all you open-minded sailors would want to read it.

    OK, there's some repetition in the suggestions, so the advantages probably boil down to around 20, but even so, there are still enough to qualify junk rig as the best rig for short-handed ocean cruising. As long as you're not ultra-conservative, and don't reject things that are Not Invented Here, ie, in the West, that is.
     

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  2. bpw
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    bpw Senior Member

    Best is a silly word to use in relation to boats.

    I notice there is no mention of the 200-300lbs of added rig weight on a 30-35 foot cruising boat.

    I am neither conservative, nor do I reject foreign ideas, but I still have quite a few reasons that I am 95% sure that my new cruising boat will be another Marconi rigged sloop.

    I am Very interested in the junk rig and would like to sail one to see what it is like, but I have a hard time committing to the change until I can see some data on how much upwind performance I will lose.
     
  3. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    OK, I will study this and come back with counterpoints. I see that nowhere in the document does it say anything about windward ability with a junk rig, which I believe to be much poorer than a Bermudian rig. More later.

    Eric
     
  4. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    OK, let's try "taken all round, and all things considered, the most suitable rig for short-handed ocean cruising"

    I haven't got 200-300 lbs of added rig weight on my 35ft cruising boat (shoal draught, so she hasn't a huge amount of sail-carrying power). Once you consider the whole package, subtracting the huge weight of all that standing rigging, then adding back the extra weight of the yard and battens (in CFRP or alloy), there's not a great deal of difference.

    You'd like to sail a junk rig? Where are you? The JRA has a "dating service" that is intended to facilitate arranging initiation sails for those interested in the rig. Check the JRA website.

    Here's a quote from a JRA member in Stavanger who races his junk-rigged X 99:

    "I have just recovered from the first race of the year. This was the 18th annual New year race of Stavanger Seilforening. The race started in nice conditions, sunny, 6 degrees celsius and 14 knots Wind. The fleet was divided in a short, 10,2 nm and a long 12 nm race distance. Marie G is rated high in the short class, so I had a late start. There were only 4 boats starting behind me, 2 of them rather fast, a Rainbow 42 and a Farr ILC 40. I also had to deal with a Bavaria 36 Cruiser and a Maxi 1050 sailing the short course. I managed to keep the Bavaria at bay until the second rounding. After that we all ran into a hailstorm! Wind at 32 knots with large hail was quite hilarious, no visibility and all straight in your face. My cap and hood/buf combination helped. I reckoned the wind would drop after the passing shower, and just forced Marie G hight into the wind without taking a panel down. At the next rounding Marie G was not the last to the mark, having excelled in "survival" conditions. Next leg was a dead run. I just put the barn-door out, put the autopilot on, and helped myself to some food. Rounding the mark,I could congratulate my self with more boats behind me. The Bavaria had fared well in the hailstorm, but was now behind. He passed me on the next leg by a boat length, but I retook my position on the following reaching leg in turbulence from the land. The rest of the race was a run to the mark, and a beat back, round the buoy and to the finishing line. The fast fleet had to make the last course twice, thus the last rounding became quite crowded. Marie G was the fill in the sandwich between the Bavaria and the Farr ILC. On the last run to the finishing line, I lost out to the Farr, but gained on the Bavaria. Other boats tried to pass, but Marie G managed to get to the finishing line 2minutes and 40 Seconds behind the Farr, 2 Seconds Ahead of a Bavaria Match. The Cruiser was beaten with 1 minute and 13 Seconds. I thought I had a 15th position, but was positively surprised when I learned I had gotten the 8th place. Naturally I am pleased with being in the higher 1/3. Breaking it into numbers, Marie G travelled 1 nm in 13,33 minutes. The cruiser 14,21 min/nm. The Farr: 10,66 min/nm. All in all not bad for a sail that will not sail to windward."

    You see? a good single-handed junk-rigged boat, racing against fully crewed yachts, and holding its own.

    There are good and bad junk rigs, just as there are good and bad bermudan rigs. They can't all be lumped together and condemned.
     
  5. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    Eric,
    Yes, that used to be true, in the old days when everyone made their junk sails flat. Now we put shape into the panels, or hinges into the battens, or sometimes both, it's no longer as true as it was.

    But still, it's hard to match the performance of a bermudan boat with a big genoa.

    However, the position changes when the wind pipes up and a junk rig boat is sailing with a cruising bermudan boat with a well-rolled headsail. Then, there's not much difference in performance, if any.

    And the overall point I'd like to make is that windward performance, the only weak point of junk rig, tends to become less and less of an issue, the further offshore you sail.

    Last year, I sailed single-handed from NZ to Hawai'i (NZ to Tahiti in winter). This trip is viewed with some trepidation by bermudan boat sailors, as it involves a lot of windward work, which is much less comfortable under bermudan rig than it is under junk rig, even if the former is theoretically capable of going faster. I had no difficulties at all in making these passages, and other sailors commented that I'd made fast passages. Admittedly, though, if you put me into a Saturday afternoon club race, I'd come last. Horses for courses.

    Junk rig, while not having the ultimate windward performance of bermudan rig, permits a short-handed crew to keep the boat going at its optimum cruising speed in very mixed conditions. I often find that I'm sailing happily to windward in strong, gusty, difficult conditions when the bermudan sailors have given up and turned the engine starter key.
     
  6. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Having a list of 50 pros and no cons is hardly unbiased! I would suggest that making a more balanced list would help the junk rig advocates

    I agree with Eric. I have only once sailed a junk rigged boat. We had to turn the engine on to get to windward. I once saw the Hill's Badger sailing to windward in the Caribbean - not for long though as it was so slow it disappeared behind me very quickly. I've also seen Jester sailing a number of times, maybe the world's slowest boat?

    What surprised me sailing a junk was how dangerous it was, especially when gybing, as all the leech ropes fell into the cockpit. Indeed I thought it more dangerous than on a conventional rigged boat. No doubt it was just that specific boat, not a general junk rig problem

    I make some comments about alternative rigs here

    http://sailingcatamarans.com/index....nd-performance-questions/112-alternative-rigs

    One relevant comment is that the Chinese made sailcloth from split bamboo, which had little strength, so they needed to find a way of adding strength to the rig.

    Modern rigs, especially a fully battened mainsail with singleline slab reefing and lazy jacks sail well to windward and are easy to reef on any point of sail. Why use outdated technology? Many people now call their rig "Junk" rig, but really its more like a balanced fully battened mainsail

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
  7. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    Richard,

    There's really only one major "con" - windward performance in light breezes, say below 10 knots.

    You must have sailed one of the "bad" junk rigs. There are certainly some around, just as there are bermudan rigs that I wouldn't dream of taking to sea.

    I made Badger a suit of cambered panel sails before I left England to go cruising, and she sails much faster now.

    Jester was, of course, the first boat to be fitted with a "westernised" junk rig. Is it surprising that the first such rig was not as good as those which we now know how to build? There has to be a learning curve, and unfortunately, we westerners have had to start at the bottom of it again, as there was little documentation of the authentic chinese rigs.

    Many junk rigged boats fit a hoop over the cockpit to keep the sheet clear of the crew.

    Indeed, a junk sail is in fact a balanced, stiff-battened lugsail. No argument there.

    Junk rig isn't outdated technology. It's appropriate technology for some - but not for everyone. With its different philosophy, of distributing the sailing stresses widely, by adding stiff battens, and then by sheeting most of them, it permits the use of low grade materials. And this is still important, to impecunious sailors who want to put a soundly-rigged ocean cruising vessel together on a minimal budget. Roller headsails, in-mast furling and single-line-reefing are all inappropriate technology for we sailors who cruise to wild places where there are no engineering shops.
     
  8. bpw
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    bpw Senior Member

    How much does your rig weigh? Now that synthetic standing rigging is cheap and available the standing rig weighs almost nothing on a Bermuda rigged boat, ours is 20-30 lbs including tangs and end fittings on a heavy 28 foot boat. I was actually just working out some rough weights of wooden freestanding spars a couple nights ago and could not get a total weight anywhere close to what was possible with a stayed rig. Even without taking into account that we would need a second mast with a junk rig to allow us to manuver in tight places. If you can afford carbon masts, then of course everything changes, but that is big money for a small boat.

    I have read everything I could find on the junk rigged x-99 on the JRA forum, yet could never find any actual numbers as to VMG or speed and tacking angles in different wind speed. Lots of anecdotes about races but nothing I could actually compare to a conventional x-99. I may have just missed the info though, is a bit hard to navigate the JRA site.

    I am in Puerto Williams Chile on our boat right now but when we get back to the USA in a couple years I have plans to track down a few junk rigs and give them a try before committing to a rig for our new boat (33 ft aluminum racer/cruiser).

    Since we sail without a motor the loss of performance up-wind in light air will likely be a deal breaker for us. A freestanding modern rig is very interesting though if I could get the mast weight low enough.

    I am not saying the junk is a bad rig, just not the "best" for a lot of people. I will actually be helping my Dad put together a junk rig for his 32 foot motorsailor when I get back. It should be ideal for his application.

    Mr. Sponberg (seems weird to call you Eric since we have never met) do you by any chance still have the mast weight data for the Sparhawk 36? I have actually had thoughts of buying one just for the rig and sails if we decided to go freestanding on our new boat. Would actually be cheaper than getting carbon masts built and our new boat is close enough in size etc that the righting moments should be quite close. Doubt it would actually happen because of cost, but is another option I want to explore for our new boat.
     
  9. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    This is a "My dog is better than yours" type of argument. There is no solution.

    All rigs have pros and cons, just as all hull forms and appendage shapes and every other design decision. The interesting part is how those decisions fit together and work for you. No rig is perfect for every use, owner, budget, etc.
     
  10. bpw
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    bpw Senior Member

    My dog is the best...

    Edit:seems I can't manage to post a picture though...
     
  11. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    bpw,
    Not many people are going for a wooden unstayed mast these days. A better option (I'll try to avoid saying best, as it upsets some folks!) is a spun-tapered alloy pole, widely available these days, as they are used for streetlighting and flagpoles. Look at, for example, http://www.crescent-stonco.com/uploads/library/Spec/RTA_30_50_PC.pdf
    to get an idea of prices, sizes and weights. My mast is 12 metres long, 220mm dia at deck level, 100mm dia at the head, with 5mm wall thickness. I can't recall what it weighs, but the important thing is that the CG of such an unstayed, tapered pole is much lower than the usual parallel section, stayed rig. If I'm moored in a line of similar-sized boats, all the rest with bermudan rig, then it's easy to spot me - I'm the one with the very much lower rig!
    The pragmatic option is to buy a parallel alloy tube from a stockholder, as long as you can get it, and then to build a tapered, staved wooden topmast. I recently did a calculation for the owner of a 26ft boat, who wanted to replace his solid wooden mast, and the weight of a hybrid mast was about 64kg, against 120kg for the solid wooden mast.
    For a 33ft cruiser/racer, I wouldn't consider going to a two-masted rig. I don't see any advantages in manouvrability, and as you say, all the costs and weights are going to increase. I have a single masted rig, 630 sq ft on my 35ft, 8 ton displacement boat. That's a bit of a handful, but up to about 500 sq ft total area, it's best to stay with one mast, one sail.
    You'll look in vain for hard numbers on windward performance for JR. We've been trying for many years to get boats to sail together, some with the many and various forms of JR, some with the many and various varieties of bermudan rig, and it's a remarkably hard thing to achieve. Boat-against-boat trials are the only genuine way to compare rigs; one boat recording it's VMG in one particular set of conditions doesn't help very much.
     
  12. David Tyler
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    David Tyler J. R. A. Committee Member

    Certainly there is no "one rig suits all" solution.
    But I think it's perfectly valid to say, for example "your greyhound is much better at running from A to B very fast, but my husky is much better at hauling a load under difficult conditions. Your bermudan rig is much better at sailing upwind from A to B very fast, but my junk rig is much better at sailing downwind from B to A, and gybing around the lee mark without putting down my cup of tea". Isn't it?
     
  13. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Counterpoint

    COUNTERPOINT BY ERIC SPONBERG

    Introductory remarks: The test of my remarks is based on the claim by the OP that the junk rig is “the best rig for short-handed ocean cruising.” First of all, there are a total of 62 claims—an original 53 and an extra 9. Yes, there are a few duplicates, but we’ll not be bothered by those for the moment. I found just four advantages unique just to junk rigs—14, 15, 22, and 39, but in my opinion, these would not raise the junk rig to “best for short-handed cruising status” because they apply only to a few aspects of rigs and cruising.

    #14: Can use battens as a ladder to climb the rig—that’s pretty unique.

    #15: Easy to make your own sails—I’ll grant that junk sails are probably easier to make than other normal sailboat sails, although from the discussion it looks like junk sails are getting ever more sophisticated. And at the same time, there has long existed expert guidance on making your own sails for conventional sailboats.

    #22: Sails can be made in a small space—This one is actually dubious because an entrepreneurially spirited person who is making his or her own sails for a conventional rig in a small room would probably succeed if driven enough to save a buck. By the same token, and junk rig sailor might really appreciate working in a bigger space. But I’ll give this one to the Junkies for now.

    #39: Low stress in junk rig sail cloth—no argument there, but so what?

    I was able to divide the list into three additional groups. The next group, numbering the most at a count of 27, applies to practically all free-standing rigged boats, and I’ll call these the “Freebies” (to model after the sobriquet of “Junkies”). In this group, I found the following listed advantages also apply to just about any Freebie: 1, 5, 7, 10, 11, 17, 19, 20, 21 (same as 20), 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 43, 47, 49, 53, and the extras 1, 3, 5, and 7.

    In the third group, which count to 24 and which I’ll call the “AllBies”, apply to All Boats. There is a proviso here that a boat with a conventional rig can be equipped with reliable equipment that can function as well as a junk rig. Reefing mechanisms come to mind, such as the Dutchman system, roller furling headsails, and boom furlers for mainsails. A lot of tried and true equipment that is available these days makes sailing that much easier than it was in Jester’s early days. Some claim advantage of a single mast and sail over a boat with a single mast and two sails (main and jib) but this ignores cat rigged boats which can make good cruising boats if built properly. The Wylie Cats and the Nonsuch’s come to mind, both Freebie examples, but not necessarily in general. Those in the list that likewise apply to AllBies, and therefore are not advantages, are: 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 24, 26, 29, 31, 36, 37, 42, 44, 45, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52, and the extras 6 and 9. Claim #42 related to a bowsprit—come on, not all boats have bowsprits.

    The last group, the Questionables, count to 5:

    #3: Sail rips have minimal impact, and the description refers to longitudinal rips. That’s dubious. All rips have some deleterious effect—they can split a junk sail just as easily as a conventional sail, and in either case, repairs of a sort are necessary. Get out the ditty bag and start sewing.

    #8: Ease of repair. Well, that depends on how good you are at repairing sails and spars and what kinds of tools and supplies you carry on board. A properly equipped conventionally rigged boat will probably be as easy to repair as a junk rig.

    Extra #2: You get photographed a lot. I can’t see where this is a cruising advantage, particularly if you are a private person, in which case it is a disadvantage.

    Extra #4: It’s the most beautiful rig anywhere. That’s totally subjective. During a short stint that I had as the Technical Editor at a major boating magazine, we were told to adopt the view that there are no ugly boats. All boats are beautiful, it’s just that some boats are more beautiful than others.

    And finally, Extra #8: Junkies are interesting people and great company. Well, that’s totally subjective, too. In fact, I think both Sandra Bullock and Richard Dawkins would make for really interesting company at a party at my house. I don’t think they’re sailors, either.

    The above is strictly my opinion, and you are all welcome to your own opinions. As Tad indicated above, it is pointless to argue this list, because there will never be a consensus. If you enjoy your rig, more power to you.

    I’ll get off my soap box now. (Does anyone have Sandra bullock’s phone number???)

    Eric
     
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  14. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    BPW, according to my design file on the Sparhawk 36, the calculated weights of the masts were 201 lbs. for the main mast, and 159 lbs for the mizzen mast.

    Eric
     

  15. bpw
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    bpw Senior Member

    So if I did my math right your spar should be about 172 lbs for the bare tube, not bad. I will need to check if something similar would be strong enough for our new boat. Our righting moments my be quite a bit higher than your boat.

    Two masts (or a headsail)would be needed for us, I would not feel comfortable sailing into a tight spot without the ability to back a jib or foresail to help control the bow. And I would be looking for 700 plus square feet of sail.

    It is good talking to someone with a good bit of first hand experience with the junk since I am quite interested in it. Thanks for putting up with getting poked and prodded.

    I think my ideal would be something similar to what Eric Sponberg did for Capernicus, a freestanding single masted fractional rig. Most of the advantages of a freestanding rig, while retaining a headsail for manuverbility. Maybe carry running backs to allow some control of mast bend and headstay tension.
     
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