Making the junk sail – part 1

Finally making the sail. The end is in sight!


The sail is made from 65gsm polyester ripstop. This is the same fabric as I used in my previous boat. The reasons for choosing it were:

  • It is cheap;
  • Since it is coated it is impermeable to air, plus it doesn’t fray when cut;
  • It doesn’t stretch (much) on the main thread axes – along the fabric and across the fabric;
  • It does stretch on the bias (diagonal). This helps take out creases when using barrel cut camber;
  • Polyester is UV resistent and doesn’t sag when wet;
  • It seems to work ok.

The main downside is that the coating will probably wear off in time which will allow air through.

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Jiblet design – update

I’ve been continuing my experiements on the jiblets.

Leading edge angle

The first issue was the approach angle of the leading edge. The symmetrical aerofoil has a leading edge angle of 90º. This means air will not flow round the leading edge of a sail with this shape.

The larger the angle the more forward thrust we’ll get from the sail but the lower the angle we can go into wind (larger tacking angle). Conversely a smaller leading edge angle will improve the angle we can go into wind but will reduce thrust from the sail. Ideally we’d optimise the angle for Velocity Made Good (VMG) given the performance and drag of the boat, but we just don’t have enough information so a reasonable guess will have to do.

The hard-sheeted jib angle on my hull (Wanderer dinghy) is approx 12º. To allow air to get past the mast, plus allow for the extra drag of a junk rig I’m assuming that the jiblet angle of incidence will be around 15º. This means that the maximum leading edge angle should be around 30º (45º – 15º = 30º).

Playing on I came up with this shape that seems to look about right – and something like a sail.

9% camber at 35% chord; 1% thick from
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Jiblet design

No – not the guts of a chicken. The jiblets in a Split Junk Rig are the small jib sections in front of the mast. Since they are in clean air in front of the mast they should be more efficient than the main sections (mainlets?). hence they can provide a critical part of the drive of the sail. So their design is important.

I’ve been playing with some prototypes. The established thinking is that an angled shelf foot design is best, with the caveat that the actual sail shape will be different to the shape you think you’ll get. This tends to make me think ‘why?’ and try to understand how to get a predictable shape, when I should probably get on, make the thing and go sailing.

Ok – so first I tried a barrel cut jiblet. This was built into a panel with batten pockets and tapes to see how it all worked.

Barrel cut jiblet
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Moved blog to

The blog has moved to I was running WordPress on Apache on Debian Linux at Bytemark, but it was taking too much effort to keep everything up to date. It is cheaper and more secure to move it to

It is certainly an easy migration – very smooth and automatic.

Now I should have more time for sorting out boats!

Split Junk Rig sail plan

With the mast nearing completion it is time to finalise the sail plan. I’ve been using a scaled-down copy of the Poppy plan for the preliminary design. I’ve now followed through to make sure everything works ok.

As recommended I built a string and stick model of the sail. This is the first attempt – a copy of the Poppy rig. With old garden bamboo it looks pleasingly authentic!

Stick-and-string model – first iteration
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