The Top 50 Advantages of Junk Rig

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

  1. Avoid Rocks
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    Avoid Rocks Junior Member

    Since you're discussing the costs of the bermuda rig, what were its (not necessarily unique) advantages again..?
  2. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    I was discussing the costs of the bermudan rig only because it was being unfavourably compared to the junk rig. I thought the OP didn't want bermudan rigs being promoted here.

    However, since you asked, in no particular order (and with some mistakes and a lot of tongue-in-cheek) here's a quick but not exhaustive list;

    1- bermudan rigs are faster, meaning you spend less time sailing when you don't want to and can get out of bad weather faster; people like skiff champions, multihullers and shorthanded racers are not ****** and they choose bermudan rigs even when the rules don't require it, because of the efficiency of the sails.

    2- Increased crew safety: With bermudan rig the crew (usually) does all sail handling from the cockpit, if they have the boat set up that way;

    3- Sail rips have minimal impact: dacron is tough, and stickyback is easy to use.

    4- Ease of reefing and making sail
    means that you always sail under
    the correct amount of canvas: just chuck in a reef or (in a fractional rig) just tweak some backstay on and ease the traveller.

    5- Much easier for the older, not-sostrong
    or ‘mobility-restricted’
    people to use - with no heavy battens to hoist, you can have a much lighter sail. PS - how come the JRA notes that you can use electric winches for halyards but ignores the use of electric winches for bermudan rigs? That's the sort of thing that makes the list appear unconvincing and biased.

    6- Bermudan sails set well down the mast, unlike the high-set junk rig, which means that there is less heeling force on the boat.

    7- Excellent performance upwind, in light airs, and in squally conditions - it's easy to unroll a big jib or to power up a fractional main.

    8- Bermudan rig is more suited to family sailing - there's no big battens to pull up if you don't want to, the headsails are easily furled and unfurled, and the performance lets you get places faster...and there's no long lines running to each batten to trap small hands and necks;

    9- Some bermudan rig people have complicated and demanding boats, because those people enjoy the fascination of complicated rigs and demanding sailing. Other bermudan rig people have simple boats.

    10- Bermudan rig allows the ease and simplicity of just being able to ring any rigger and say "please do X on my boat while I go off and do something enjoyable and/or worthwhile and send me the bill" instead of spending time building and maintaining a rig themselves.

    11 - You can work on the sails yourself in a small space without removing long battens.

    12- you can use mast ladders as a ladder, even when the sail is down (which is when most of us prefer to work up the mast).

    13- It's easy to make your own sails - no long battens are required.

    14- The self tacking bermudan rig is self tacking....der!

    15- Because the sails stay on deck if you want them to, the boat can stay drier down below.

    16- Bermudan rig can be more flexible than other rigs - just pulling one string can reduce the sail area by 1% or 70%.

    17 - Because the sails don't flog if they are fully battened or you pull the traveller to windward, they can be kept up for motoring and thus reduce rolling;

    18 - bermudan jibs can be changed, so you can get a light and efficient jib for light winds and then change to a heavier jib for strong winds;

    19 - changing jibs, rather than trying to get one sail to cover all conditions, means that you can optimise size, shape, cut, material, aspect ratio, and all other aspects of design;

    20- bermudan rigs allow you to use efficient spinnakers and assymetrics downwind.

    21- changing spinnakers and assymetrics means that you can optimise shape, size, cut, material, aspect ratio and all other aspects of design rather than compromising to get one sail to cover all conditions;

    22- you don't need a sail cover if you use awning-type UV-stabilised fabrics;

    23- On a single-sail bermudan rigged boat, you can see all the sail all the time;

    24- No need for the “reef early” rule as
    with other rigs: “Just in time
    reefing” can be the rule on a well-sorted bermudan rig.

    25- The experience of sailing a bermudan rig,and of being patronised by the “received wisdom” of junk rig sailors, encourages bermudan sailors to see how people can become so obsessed with a rig that they spend time being patronising and thinking up repetitive and often incorrect lists.

    26- The experience of sailing a bermudan rig, and of endlessly learning the enormous amount of “received wisdom” available from the many other sailors who use the same rig, encourages bermudan sailors to see how people can learn from others, think cooperatively and with respect,
    and find out how other people have done things. It's like Newton and Einstein said, you learn much more if you have the experience of many others to guide you.

    27 - with only one high-set sail, there's much less protection from dangerous US rays in a junk rig.

    28 - The ease and economy of buying second-hand gear encourages
    experimentation and saves bucks

    29- the huge amount of other bermudan boats encourages rig

    30- the huge amount of other bermudan boats means that an enormous amount of development has already been done

    31- for bermies, we have the most beautiful rig anywhere- something with the simplicity and graceful curves of a Brancusi sculpture or the Parthenon.

    32- Making your own sails opens endless opportunities for creativity, especially when you don't just have a mainsail or two, but also staysails, genoas, blades, assymetric kites, screechers, symmetrical kites, yankees, pinheads, squaretops, yada yada yada.

    Oh, and pity those poor people who don't get to play with the endless opportunities of panel layout and sail colours you get with all that lot!

    33- You can use a spinnaker and staysail, which means that you can use big light wind sails when you want them, and small heavy sails when you want them - you're not stuck with sails that are trying to cover everything from light-wind running to heavy-air beating.

    34- Bermuda rig is a great way to introduce new people to sailing: Due to ease of handling and simple rope arrangements, once the sail is up, it’s easy for a complete novice to tack and gybe single-handed if the boat is set up that way. This is a great way to build confidence!

    And the new sailor can then go on and sail lots of other similar bermuda-rig boats, read lots of other relevant information from the many books and articles on bermudan rigs, and learn from lots of other experienced locals who all have similar rigs, rather than learning junk-rig skills that may not transfer to other boats.

    35- the speed, power and acceleration of a sloop rig makes for easy handling in many situations

    36- you can just buy and order off the shelf gear instead of having to build your own or find one of the few experienced junk rig builders.

    37 - stays make excellent handholds

    I could go on, but it's time to hit the hay.

    Lest it be said that I'm only in favour of conventional rigs, let me say that I have 2 unstayed cat rigs, 2 wing masted sloops, and 2 conventional sloops. If someone loves a junk rig - and there's ample reason to do so - then it's great. But please don't expect us to all be convinced by a list of often spurious claims.

    For example, the list says that junk rig people are interesting. That may be so, but who said bermudan rig sailors are boring? I know many people who choose bermudan rigs because they have such interesting lives as science researchers, medical researchers, robotics researchers, hikers, cyclists, musicians, etc etc etc that they don't have time to build and maintain an 'exotic' rig. Speaking as someone who does a lot of his own boatwork, I don't agree that those of us who spend hours working on rigging or installing lockers are necessarily "more interesting" than those who spend hours working on artificial intelligence or oil painting, and therefore save time by just going for a 'normal' rig and boat.
  3. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Good list CT249, probably the best list I've seen yet for a Junk vs. Bermuda rig. Junk rigs do look good from a nostalgic perspective (damn they look good properly rigged out), but they do lose out on practicality in many areas. From a mechanical standpoint, I would add you've simply got more deck & rigging hardware with a Junk rig. The more hardware, the increased amount of maintenance required.

    The comparative simplicity of a Bermuda rig has its benefits.
  4. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    IMHO, there has been plenty of misrepresentation on both sides.

    What I propose to do here is cite the five biggest advantages, in descending order of importance, I see of each rig. I am doing this from the point of view of a would be designer recommending one rig over the other.

    To keep this discussion reasonably simple and straightforward, I’m only going to mention the inherent advantages of each rig, as its basic animal, ignoring ‘fixes’ which attempt to mitigate each rigs perceived faults. I’m also only discussing each as a mainsail or a mainsail only.

    Since ‘B’ comes before ‘C’, I’ll discuss the Bermuda rig first.

    Bermuda Rig Advantages:

    1.) Better windward performance. This is due to:
    a.) It’s single membrane structure and triangular plan allow a better airfoil shape.
    b.) Its triangular plan allows less twist up top.
    c.) as a mast head sloop, it is possible to put up a much bigger jib, due to the triangular shape allowing a true back stay.

    2.) Easier to hoist. This is due to:
    a.) its lack of Yards, Gaffs, and Boomlets*. Even with full length Battens*, this is true.

    3.) Easier to hang headsails on same mast. This is due to:
    a.) no spars or jaws projecting in front of the mast.
    b.) its ability to have a true backstay.

    4.) Can be built incredibly strong for its weight. This is due to:
    a.) its ability to have a true backstay.
    b.) its ability to have mid mast height spreaders and upper and lower shrouds.

    5.) Easier to get replacement parts for, including the sail itself. This is due to:
    a.) wide spread acceptance of the rig.
    b.) it being the first and probably the last industrially produced rig. Masts, Booms, turnbuckles, and to a lesser extent spreaders, and tangs can be quite interchangeable amongst boats of roughly the same size (Length, Beam, and Displacement).

    Chinese Lug Advantages:

    1.) Easier to reef. This is due to:
    a.) the weight of its many Boomlets.
    b.) its multi membrane structure.

    2.) Can be feathered into the wind, killing most of its drive flogging. This is due to:
    a.) its flattish shape.
    b.) its multi membrane structure.

    3.) Better balance after reefing. This is due to:
    a.) its rectangular plan.
    b.) it having a Yard.

    4.) Can set more Sail Area on a given length of Mast, as a single sail. This is due to:
    b.) its rectangular plan.
    c.) it having a yard that can be cocked up.

    5.) Sail material can be thinner, lower quality, and probably last longer. This is due to.
    a.) the sails multi membrane structure.
    b.) its flattish shape.

    are sail stiffeners that are, for the most part, expected to bend, to help the sail form a better foil shape.

    Are sail stiffeners that are, for the most part expected not to bend. They are actually spars in just about every meaning of the word.

    As you probably have noticed, my top reasons for choosing a Bermuda rig are mostly performance related. It will simply perform better up wind than its Chinese Lug counterpart and may even be faster on other points of sail except down wind.

    It seems to me to be beyond question that it delivers the most performance per cost of the two. Though it is probably true that a Chinese Lug can be made to perform better with jointed Boomlets and/or rounded edged sail segments, such add cost and complexity, and begin to rob the sail of some of its principle virtues .

    You have probably also noticed that my top reasons for choosing the Chinese Lug are mostly ease of handling issues. As a single sail rig the Chinese Lug makes a much easier handled boat. If I’m alone in a gale, I’d much rather have to reef a Chinese Lug than a Bermuda Sail.

    Although a Bermuda Sail can be made easier to reef with roller furling, such adds considerable cost and complexity, and can compromise its major virtue, the set of its sail.

    Although I believe the Bermuda Sail performs better, I also believe the Chinese Lug performs adequately for cruising purposes, and its greater ease of handling may well win the day for a rig choice.

    I think it takes just as much technical know how to make either sail. With the Chinese Lug, you’d better know to arrange the sheeting of the many Boomlets, and have the engineering know how to figure out the proper size of said Boomlets.

    With the Bermuda Rig, you’d better know how to cut the proper spar edge rounds, the proper broad seeming, and know how to make the proper corner patches.

    Cost wise, I think the need of the many Boomlets and the need for a winch to raise and lower the sail, make the Chinese Lug comparable, if not more expensive to make. In regions of the world where Bamboo is quite readily available, this is of course less true.

    As for durability, I think it’s a wash between the two. The Bermudan sail cloth will probably wear out sooner, it’s major enemy being stretch. Once it stretches beyond a certain point, it can no longer set in an airfoil like shape, and becomes useless. This is also true with the Chinese Lug sail segments, but much less so. But finding a useable replacement sail is relatively easy, with the Bermudan rig. With the Chinese Lug, it’s a do-it-yourself project.

    Arguments about stayed and un-stayed masts simply don't wash with me. This is because both rigs can have either. If a Chinese Lug is to set a jib before it, it will need stays and shrouds. If a Bermudan rig is not going to have a jib, it can be un-stayed.
  5. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Could you kindly name all this deck hardware.

    Other than a dedicated winch, to hoist the thing up with, and a sheet line to each Boomlet, I don't see much deck hardware.

    I'd think the typical Bermudan masthead rigged cruiser would have more, with the need for head sail winches and perhaps multiple head sail sheeting tracks?
  6. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Sharpii, another damned good list. Let this thread be the one stop to compare the pros & cons of both.

    We all know Bermuda rigs perform better and are arguably easier to maintain with the huge selection of hardware available. Despite this, Junk rigs are just gorgeous to look at. That really sums it up. This is nostalgia talking though.

    If more people wanted Junk rigs the main boat manufacturers around the globe would be producing them, but they're not. We do see plans offered for them, and some boat shops will make or rebuild one on occasion, but overall their footprint in the market has shrunken quite a bit.

    There's also a general rule of thumb with regard to maintainability: The more moving parts you have, the costlier a mechanical device will be to maintain. With all the boomlets & battens in a Junk rig no question they will chew through more sails...especially in rough seas, which leads me to my next point. Junk rigs are arguably better suited for warmer climates closer to the equator where light winds prevail, vs. harsher sailing conditions. I can't count the number of pictures I've seen of a nice Junk rig sitting in a peaceful harbor or breezing down a lovely coast.

    The next level wold be to compare their strength and performance in rough seas. Last year I sailed in the Southern Ocean and dodged many squalls along the way. One nailed though us at over 110 knots. A sister ship was hit by 220 knot winds. I saw the sails with my own eyes: They shuddered so violently one wondered how they held up. The light sail cloth & bamboo of a junk rig would have been SHREDDED TOAST. I came out of these storms with a new-found respect for a properly built Bermuda rig. The rigging on a Bermuda rig is arguably what sets it apart, not to mention the very tough sails (thicker than elephant hide). After we arrived in Australia the battens I prepared were in good shape, as were the sails.

    So, with all the analysis I would suggest adding how Junk & Bermuda rigs perform on the Beufort scale. At the end of the day, that's where we get into the strength of materials and durability that can save lives. Bermuda rigs will arguably come out on top. Just look at the fleets of boats zipping along in all sorts of weather.
  7. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Here's a vid of a junk rig off south Australia. Arguably there's not a lot less rigging than a Bermuda rig. Let's just say a squall was coming and I decided to drop the front rig to the deck. No problem. Now I've got my main rig with perhaps a few reefs in. If a squall hit I would hate to see what it would do to that rig. A good squall hits a sail like one would violently shake the dust off a wool blanket. All those wooden boomlets would be broken chop sticks.

    That's just my opinion after watching how very heavy winds interact with the surface of a sail. Perhaps if the sails of Junk rigs were very heavy, and the battens were made of flat fiberblass vs. bamboo. I'll have a bit more confidence. Until then, they're not the rig of choice for rough seas.

  8. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Some additional sail performance points on lug/junk rigs on this thread (some good performance book references mentioned).

    "The article ignored the reasons that gaff and lug rigs generally do not do well in most other studies, sag and tip vortex drag. In any boat controling twist is critical to performance on almost any point of sail. Controlling twist is very difficult in a quadralateral sail because the peak wants to sag off to leeward. In the article, the testers rigged spencer vangs to the peak of the sail allowing them to control twist. Spencer vangs act like a barber haul on a jib sheet and allow the peak to be pulled inboard to control twist. Spencer vangs work poorly on a typically narrow hull form but would improve the windward performance of wide craft like the cat in question and especially over a backstayless masthead bermuda rig as used in this article. The large forestay sag in the photo's would account for a major performance drop just on its own (especially when the jib is approaching 40-50% of the sail area of the rig).

    The other issue with quadalateral sails is tip vortex. When you talk about low speed foils, aspect ratio is a critical factor. Most of the drive of a sail comes from its leading edge. Except downwind, boat are pulled and not pushed by the low pressure that forms on the leading edge of the sail. Close reaching and above, the trailing edge of the sail is only there to prevent this low pressure from being bled off to the higher pressure side of the sail. Because sailboats heel, a lot of the low pressure bleeds off of the top of the sail and mingles with the higher pressure also bleeding off the top of the sail. This creates highly turbulent air, (the tip vortex) and that turbulent air creates a lot of drag. Drag is the enemy of upwind performance. The smaller the tip of the sail, the smaller the tip vortex, and the lower the drag. When you have a typical quadralateral sail, be it sprit, gaff, or lug rig (junks are lug rigs), in order to limit twist the head of the sail is typically quite horizontal. The head of the sail becomes the tip over which this vortex forms and its long length means that it forms with a vengence.

    The other issue is weight aloft which is higher with these alternative rigs and which is not a problem with a heavy multihull test bed but of course is a serious problem with monohulls."

    At the end of the day it really gets down to aerodynamics too. You've got to work with those high winds and a properly built and trimmed out Bermuda rig gives a good sailor a lot of options.

  9. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Does anyone have a contact email for Ian Farrier? I want to ask him if I can put a $2500 Junk Rig on a F-22SJR
  10. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    In this video I don't see a lot of deck hardware, but i do see a lot of really small sheet lines. Although it is true that there are more moving parts on a CL than on BR, these parts are simple, relatively easy to replace at sea, and carry relatively small loads.

    The modern BR has a lot of machine made parts, with many of them experiencing very high loads. The goose neck seems particularly vulnerable, as are all the shroud and stay ends and associated hardware, which the rig stands the risk of total and utter collapse if any of them fail.

    But, as I said in my earlier post, it is relatively easy to engineer each of these components to be up to the job and then some. That is why I stand with the notion that the probable cost and durability of both are probably nearly equal. There is probably more day to day maintenance on a CL, as chafe takes its toll, but repairs on a modern BR, when needed, are probably more expensive.

    I'm glad you came through this 110 kt squall unscathed. The thickness of your sails was what probably what saved you. Where those standard sails? Or were they specially made ones with heavier cloth?

    Many ocean voyages have been made with CL rigged boats, including one of the first western made multihulls (in the 1930's). This is a reality that is highly documented. What is less well documented is the possibility that the Chinese built very large vessels for the time (the late 15th century), of up to or over 200 ft long, with this rig, and may have even made it to the west coast of America then.
  11. Rurudyne
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    Rurudyne Senior Member

    Good catch about the rigging. Junk sails do involve a number of sheets that help then hold the right shape etc but, as has been observed, there's but one Halyard per sail. Of course junk sails have been large in the past and the Chinese had to devise their own, worthwhile nifty gadgets to help out.

    Also, from the few accounts I've heard the manpower to manage the rigs even on big ship was minimal per mast. There just may not be much of a difference for boats most of us can afford on that front.

    Edit: I wonder how much cost and automation would be needed to automate a (relatively) many masted junk rigged mega yacht compared to the Maltese Falcon?
  12. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Hi sharpii2, our Bermuda rigged boat had Hyde sails. They were very tough intended for a circumnavigation. I think if a Junk rig had flat fiberglass vs. bamboo boomlets and thicker sails it might do better to survive a direct hit by a squall.

    What I witnessed many times over with the squalls was how the air flowed over our main sail. Looking back on the storms we hit all I can say is "Good God, that is one tough sail." We obviously brought in a few reefs to reduce power, but even then the wind would ripple that sail like a wet noodle. The flat fiberglass battens held up well because our main sail was so thick. They were one with the sail and merely helped it keep its shape.

    Looking at most of the Junk rigs, the sail cloth just looks too thin. Also, the boomlets protrude too much from the cloth. Between each one there are many undulations (bumps) and deep sags in the cloth. This is definitely an aerodynamic inefficiency. Very strong winds over these bumps in the sail will obviously cause a lot of extra turbulence and those boomlets are going to go for one hell of a ride. I highly doubt they would endure one or two of the storms we hit. Some of the storms we rode through would last up to 48 hours non-stop...just nuts...very psychotic winds & waves. The howling winds were maddening at times. The Southern Ocean is an animal and I've got a lot of respect for it.

    As far as the cost of parts for Bermuda rigs, they are indeed expensive, but they're built for the task (circumnavigation, including long runs in the Southern Ocean & North Pacific) and they last. The only failure we had was the bottleneck on the forestay. They can only take so many fatigue cycles as the mast pitches repeatedly into the waves. Soon enough fatigue causes them to crack, and so you've got to swap them out on a calm day or at the next port. Ours lasted about 1/2 way around the world.

    The stayed vs. unstayed masts of a Bermuda rig also play a role on how well they perform. I cannot imagine an unstayed mast on the journey we took. It's just too risky. If you lose a mast that's all she wrote. Man the life rafts and hope somebody picks you up.

    Very sad story about a boat lost a couple of years ago. By the looks Nina's sails her translucent sails were just not thick and strong enough. One storm with 68 knot wind gusts shredded them. By comparison, every single storm we hit offered up 60 to 80 knot winds. We sailed in those winds for a good 3000 miles. The Hyde sails were up to the task.

    Moral of the story: Don't attempt a circumnavigation without a damned good set of sails.
  13. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    I scoured the net trying to find articles & videos on "junk rig" and "squall". My search results are disappointing...not too many people writing or reporting how they perform.

    I did find this video on YouTube though. The gentleman reports dropping down to one panel in what he describes as a "strong squall". This is roughly equivalent to bring in 3 reefs on a typical Bermuda rig. There is no way this is a squall. It's just typical moderate seas off the coast of the UK. If he's got to drop down to one panel for that it's not saying much for how a junk rig performs when a real storm comes.

  14. Rurudyne
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    Rurudyne Senior Member

    In that case though wouldn't you be more likely dealing with personal tolerance for things like discomfort rather than the suitability of the rig?

    Afterall, the title includes: "(well for me anyway)".

    Personally, having joked in the past that I'll need at least as much railing as I've relatives on board, I'm kinda sympathetic. ;)

  15. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    I don't know. I'm extracting some clues about those who sail Junk rigs which raise an eyebrow.

    a) Contrary to all the hype, they are primarily fair weather sailors.
    b) They enjoy the simplicity of raising/dropping sails (good feature)
    c) Being fair weather sailors, they are content with using more delicate sail cloth, lines, etc.

    For me anyway, I see a yacht as a survival vehicle. You never know what weather you'll get stuck in while on a voyage. If you do get stuck in a storm, a good insurance policy is needed literally and figuratively, and rock solid rigging is part of that.

    If I were in warmer, fair weather climates for a good period of time I would probably settle for a Junk rig. I really do like the way the look. For a serious voyage though I would not consider it. That's just me.

    I would be interested in reading more about how well they do in storms that are routinely dished up in the North Pacific, Southern Ocean & places of the like. 50 advantages or more, if they don't hold up well in storms all those benefits go down the drain if you can't sail home.
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