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Old 08-04-2019, 03:02   #1
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junk rig, why, advantages?

Hi Everyone,
I'm just trying to get my head around one thing, monosail junk rig, like here:
I mean I'm leaving a site the insane skills this skipper has to sail a Achiles 24 in high arctic sea, that is a whole another story, but what really caught my eye is the single jung rig. Since that is rare to see, what are the benefits? I mean if someone goes for voyage for months especially in the arctic, there must be absolutely strong benefits for this type of rig. So I thought why not to start a discussion here, really interested to know what you think?

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Old 08-04-2019, 05:10   #2
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Maybe a bit biased, but here's a long list of advantages:

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Old 08-04-2019, 05:24   #3
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

I recall thinking several years ago that Jester’s legacy was a bit spotty – the steering vane caught on and almost became a status symbol (even for dock queens), but the junk rig seemed to tweak few designers other than Hasler, Colvin and a few others who weren’t IOR types. The junk rigs seems to have remained the hallmark of those skippers (usually short-handed) who hear a different drummer – but folks like Taylor keep it alive… I'd once thought to rerig our B24 al'a Ming Ming. Like those fifty+ “reasons…”
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Old 08-04-2019, 18:03   #4
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

30 years ago catamarans were considered "oddball" boats and generally scorned. The junk may have its day.
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Old 09-04-2019, 00:56   #5
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

I was watching more of the Mingming II videos, it really is interesting, especially the fact the sail is made so that the upper part is a storm sail so in storms you don't need to change sails based on conditions, he just lowers or rises it. This system really is appealing to me.
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Old 09-04-2019, 01:06   #6
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Another example:

Monsoon Dervish sailing a Chinese junk
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:49   #7
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Don't have to change the standing rigging but you need a very strong and heavy mast.
Great on a run bout you can't point very well.

Easy to reef.
There is a bit of a demo on reefing in this video (yacht Teleport):
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Old 09-04-2019, 03:06   #8
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

I put a Junk Rig on a 25 foot yacht. I owned that yacht for years and sailed her from Sydney to Keppel island and back. Some single handed other times with the wife. Cannot say I was overly impressed, coming from sailing a standard rig I really missed not being able to fly a kite or MPS. The best bit of junk rig is the ability to raise or lower sail easily. But thats irrelevant since we now have furling mains and headsails.
The worst bit is the weight of the mast and sails all up so high.

I only ever owned one Junk Rig and that was enough for me.
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:53   #9
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

F&A seems to nail it. The junk rig enables easy changes in sail area to suit conditions, but generally call for stubby masts to avoid putting all the gear weight up too high. This reduces overall sail area, so the boat is slower. Newer junk rig designs may be lighter and more aerodynamic, but upwind seems to still be a big hurdle. Modern slab reefing or r/f provides the same ability to adjust sail area but avoids the heavy gear and windage associated with it while providing better performance on all points of sail. Gentlemen may not sail to windward, but sometimes getting off a lee shore is a requirement. "1421"( brings up what might have happened to junks that didn't go upwind well. They seem to have left pieces of themselves on Africa's east coast, in Australia and California. Shipwrecked crew might have settled in Rhode Island and Central America. Rigs have improved since then.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:14   #10
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Originally Posted by DanielCZ View Post
Hi Everyone,
I'm just trying to get my head around one thing, monosail junk rig, like here:

Go over to the JRA website,, and start reading. The group has done quite a bit of work on tweeking/improving junk rig and has quite a bit of information. Roger Taylor, Ming Ming's owner is a member.

We met a guy refurbishing a wooden trawler in Kilybegs, Ireland last year who was going to use a junk rig. Did not get to spend as much time talking to him as we would have liked.

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Old 09-04-2019, 08:34   #11
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

I'm currently sailing a Mull designed Freedom 28. It's a cat-sloop kind of sail arrangement. The small jib is on a furler and is used mostly for pointing and light air. The boat has a marconi shape, full batten main, similar to a junk type rig.

I'm an older sailor and I really like the ease of matching the sail area to the wind speed all from the cockpit. When done sailing the full batten main folds neatly into the lazy jacks. The weight of the battens helps the sail fold neatly on the boom.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:41   #12
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Picturesque and (when built correctly) easy to handle. Performs well on some points and worse than a bermuda sloop on other points ...

So it all depends. One must think about how they are going to use the boat.

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Old 09-04-2019, 14:40   #13
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Speedwell of Hong Kong
Met Shirley Carter and Speedwell in Bermuda back in 2015. She has a fascinating blog.
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Old 09-04-2019, 14:58   #14
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Why a junk rig?

Hardly an original question albeit an interesting and justifiable one. We get asked it all the time and the internet is full of this very question. And some of the comments so far are right on, some not so much.

We sailed our Tom Colvin designed Gazelle GAIA around the world over the last 24 years so have some first hand opinions on the matter.

GAIA was launched in Lake Ontario in April 1995 and from there sailed down the St Lawrence to the Canadian Maritimes, down the ICW to Florida and the Bahamas and from there did a three year circumnavigation of the Caribbean. After the Caribbean back to Florida then over to Europe and via west Africa to Brazil. From Brazil back to Florida and from Florida through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific to New Zealand with too many stops to mention. From New Zealand via PNG, Pulau, Phillipines and Malaysia, Thailand etc to India, back to Malaysia, to the Maldives, back to Malaysia. And then via Sumatra, Rodriquez, Mauritius and Reunion to Madagascar and South Africa. From SA to Brazil via St Helena and Ascension followed by French Guyana, Suriname, and Guyana to Martinigue etc to Great Inagua and the rest of the Bahamas and Florida. From Florida we returned to the Bahamas this year and are now in the Berry Islands waiting for suitable weather to return once more to Florida.

This little summation is of course far from complete as we prefer to stop everywhere and anywhere but the list of countries visited is already longer than required for this post.

The point of the list is to underline the ability of a junk rigged boat to sail anywhere in safety.

Safety and comfort where priorities when GAIA was built. She boasts a unstayed rig designed for us by Sunbird rigs of England, so losing the rig because of rigging failure is not possible. She has high solid life lines so falling overboard is difficult. She can be handled from her pilothouse reducing the chance of accidents. She has no winches because she has no heavily loaded lines. She has no through hulls using standpipes instead so cannot sink due to a hose failure. She has two masts and three sails. Colvin added a non-Chinese jib to his designs to aid upwind performance. She is shallow draft with a full keel and protected rudder all aiding safety as does her steel hull. She is so stable and well protected that we seldom use our safety harnesses. GAIAalso has a autopitching Autoprop to aid motor sailing to windward. Sailing to windward is not her strong point but it is equally obvious when watching other cruising boats that sailing to windward is not the preferred option of Marconi rigged boats either. We often see them motoring while we are still sailing.

And she is fast! It always annoys me to read someone opining in total ignorance about the performance of junk rigged boats. As if they are all equal. Are all marconi rigged boats fast? Of course not. Off the wind, and the vast majority of circumnavigating sailors do so off the wind, she will equal and more often beat boats of a similar water line length. We have proven that numerous times since we all know when two boats are within sight of each other the race is on. On several occasions we have, while 'racing' with friends in the Pacific, actually gone back, circled them and raced again. And have the testimonials to prove it. If a cruising boat of similar size has no spinaker, and after all should a short handed blue water cruising boat carry one? then normally when sailing off the wind we will be faster.

In the last week we made five short passages from Georgetown to the Staniel Cay area, from there to Green Cay on the Tongue of the Ocean, from Green Cay to South Bight in Andros and when the forecast ruled against a transit of the bank south of Andros to Florida we sailed yesterday from Lisbon Creek to Nassau. Then today we sailed from Nassau's west bay to Frazer's Hog Cay. We had a quartering wind on two of those passages. The first passage had variable winds and we did not record our averages. On the second, from Sampson cay near Staniel cay to Green Cay , a distance of fifty miles we sailed on the foresail only as the easterly wind was far aft and we were in no hurry. We averaged close to six knots. From Green Cay to South Bight, a distance of 25 miles we again averaged six knots in a quartering easterly and from South Bight to West Bay in Nassau, a little over 50 nm in a 15 knot ese breeze using the jib, foresail and half reefed mainsail we averaged 6.5 knots. On occasion, in gusts, we got up to nearly 8 knots. And then today with winds again of 12 to 15 kts from the SE we ran downwind on the foresail only and averaged 5 kts hitting 6.5 on occasion.

We have learned to sail conservatively as damage on long passages are far worse than arriving a little later but in stronger winds GAIA easily reaches her waterline length limit of just over 8 knots and we have often done much more while surfing. In the English channel we hit speeds of 11 knots while surfing. GAIA's maximum one day run was achieved in the Mozambigue Channel where we covered 200 miles.

When we first left to cross the Atlantic from the Bahamas to Bermuda we sailed in ideal conditions for GAIA, i.e. 15 to 18 kts on the aft quarter, 960 nautical miles in six days with a maximum daily run of 185. And you know the most remarkable thing? We did not get the decks wet! And from Bermuda to the Azores, with a half a dozen boats all sailing Herb Hilgenberg's magic Lat 34 deg line if memory serves, no one changed position and we saw no one either although we did get a VHF net going.

I remember a particularly fine run in Papua New Guinea off of New Ireland, where i woke up from my turn to sleep wondering why we were going so slow. When I came up top with Helen on watch, we were doing 7 knots!

Today we ghosted into the Frazer's Hog cut to pick up a mooring on two panels of the foresail while still doing 4 knots.

Slow? What poppycock. Stubby masts so small sails? Nonsense. One glance at a junk rig will show you all that sail area up high where the wind is. Who needs masts reaching up into the stratosphere to gain another measly little triangle of three square feet? Tall masts are a macho thing. In fact what is more amazing is how difficult it is to go slow when the wind blows!

We left the Galapagos more or less at the same time as 14 other boats in light winds from aft headed for French Polynesia. Often we ghosted at four knots with the sails goose winged. We were the first to come in.

Often, when sailing downwind in rough seas but not too strong winds we set the foresail in the middle aided by the fact that our junk sails are double sheeted, i.e. they have port and starboard sheetlets and sheets. We then sail on the mainsail only and the foresail almost completely stops the rolling that can be so annoying when sailing exactly downwind.

When we left from Mossel Bay to Cape Town with six other boats we were the second to arrive in boisterous conditions. And in our pilothouse we were comfortable and well rested on arrival.

And all that brings out the best argument for the junk rig when considering a cruising rig to faraway places. GAIA's two junk sails have six reef points each. If one reefs down one full batten at a time. And that is without expensive and prone to disastrous failure complications like in the boom or mast furling. We just drop a panel, tighten up the sheets that connect to each batten and continue on our way in minutes. We almost never go to windward to raise or lower sails. We just do it. All from the pilothouse. We bought new weather gear">foul weather gear in 1995 and wore it for the first time while crewing a FP BAHIA catamaran across the Atlantic last summer. We crewed on her to see if we would like sailing a catamaran with all the creature comforts that that entails and came away realizing how lucky we are to have an easily handled boat like our junk rigged GAZELLE GAIA!

Catamaran sailors are justifiably paranoic about getting caught with too much sail up. Particularly the main sail.When it happens to us we hit standby on the autopilot, the fully battened sails weathercock without a flutter and we deal with it. Easy peasy. And in an emergency? One release of the spinlock on the halyard and the whole thing thumps down into its lazy jacks. Gone!

And finally we broke our bottom battens while crossing the South Atlantic just after leaving Cape Town. The bottom battens are our booms! We simply tied those booms up to the next batten and sailed all the way back to Florida thus. The rigs are amazingly forgiving, just what one needs while in the boonies ��

I could go on and on.

Jim and Helen sv GAIA
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Old 09-04-2019, 15:47   #15
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Re: junk rig, why, advantages?

Not all Junk rigs are created as equal. Some are a heck of a lot better than others--but they have one thing in common, ease of handling, chepness to make oneself or purchase, and they can be dropped in an instant, and are a "Soft" rig which is easy on the vessel and on the rigging.

They can also be used in many configurations, biplane, schooner, ketch--all sorts of possibilities.

If they asked me, I could write a book--

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