Materials limitations is not the reason most people who use the junk rig
want to use it. My sails
on Batwing were made out of perfectly conventional sail cloth. Ease of reefing and furling
are usually the main reason for using the junk rig
. I became very interested in ease of reefing and furling
after sailing through about 2 weeks of 25' waves in the N. Pacific in September and October on an Erickson 35.
I also never wanted to crank a genny when tacking again (a millionaire lost
a finger that way, you know, Rupert Murdoch's son,) or drag one down to the fore deck
in a gale again, or fight with a sail that wanted the boat turned into the wind
to come down. Turn into 25' breaking waves? No thanks! As for pulling down a genny in a gale, my wife never tried to do so again after the genny lifted her about 3 feet off the deck
, and she was a healthy and fearless woman. The reliability
of not worrying about the condition of dozens of bits of stainless steel
holding up your rig is another factor speaking in favor of the junk rig.
For some, economy of construction is a main reason. A 65' catamaran
can be built for over $100,000 less using a junk rig or a similar rig using a wing sail than with a marconi rig, because you can dispense with: Chainplates, toggles, turnbuckles, shrouds and stays, tangs, aluminum
tracks and slides, roller reefing, fancy mainsail
, track and cars for the mainsheet, track and car for the gennoa, genny sheet winches, multiple sailmaker
, and of course, perhaps, lots of optional goodies for spinnakers. In a large boat, you start to need some pretty fancy gear
, like slides with ball bearings and compatible track, which add up very fast, and really huge and expensive winches. I priced each of these items for a 65' catamaran
and was horrified at the total cost. No wonder these things usually retail for over a million bucks!
For that matter, a square rigged ship of the 1800s was square rigged because it was the only way to get enough canvas
to carry the weight of large cargos. A marconi-rigged clipper ship would have been hopelessly under-canvassed. Even large gaff-rigged schooners were considered undercanvassed, and they could set a lot more canvas
than a marconi rigged-version could have.
Originally Posted by Pblais
Modern sail cloth has made all these old sail rigs pointless. Materials in general have changed sailing more than any single
factor. The junk rig does let you use almost any woven material as a sail since the design provides all the sail shape even if it isn't all that optimum. The idea may be curious but not worth actually doing.