Measuring junk sailing performance

  • 27 Jun 2017 19:46
    Reply # 4920413 on 4913961


    I would not disagree with any of your comments.  

    (The financial paper was produced only a year or so after major changes eg to subscriptions and expenses.  It was therefore ultra cautious.  

    At that time the costs for the printed magazine were going to be very tight.  However the standard subscription had a lot of margin compared with the forecast running costs.  I presume that with a now much larger membership but still similar running costs there is now even more margin.)

    I believe that members are well aware that you have a good grip on the finances and that you provide visibility of them throughout the year.  We are all grateful.  

    You will no doubt in due course offer advice on the financial considerations of any project proposal.




    Last modified: 27 Jun 2017 22:32 | Anonymous member
  • 27 Jun 2017 12:53
    Reply # 4919566 on 4913961


    As stated in its opening paragraph, the 2014 Financial Management paper was intended as a guide to the committee for handling the financial affairs of the JRA. It was accepted as such by the committee at that time (and in fact subsequently). It is by no means binding on current or future committees.

    In fact, it seems to me that the proposed amount of 'ring-fenced' 'capital' (cash reserves) is much higher than necessary to protect the smooth running of the association.


  • 27 Jun 2017 11:44
    Reply # 4919432 on 4919309
    Alan Boswell wrote:

    We have now reached a point where the technology exists to relatively easily measure and record for posterity the performance of (almost) any boat anywhere, and for perhaps 10% of the JRA's reserves we could make it happen. I think that would be a good use of the Association's money, and a much better use than leaving it in the bank.

    Dear Alan

    I suggest that your 10% may be a significant understatement.  

    The figure at the bottom right of the annual financial statement may be approximately £30k.  

    However, the 2014 financial management paper included the following:

    "The use of our funds has been discussed in a number of places above. However, like all businesses or organisations, we do need to have a sufficient Working Capital to deal with the cycles of cash flow. In our case an obvious cycle is that the turn of the calendar year is ‘harvest time’ for subscriptions. And we have three large bills at intervals for the production and distribution of the paper magazine. That working capital is currently hidden within our general reserves. The amount of working capital required is a matter of judgement. However, the Committee believes that ring fencing as working capital an amount equal t o t h e c o m b i n e d t o t a l o f subscriptions and paper magazine bills plus say 50% (say £10k in 2014) should ensure more than sufficient working capital available to cover the cycles of cash flow and all eventualities. (This includes the highly unlikely but theoretically possible eventuality of winding up the Association, as allowed for in our Constitution. If that ever became necessary we would be solvent to the last!) 

    The remainder of the funds, ie that in excess of the required working capital, is therefore the amount which is theoretically available for use on projects (say £15k in 2014). 

    Some have argued however that these reserves must be preserved, apparently at all costs, because ‘such capital once lost can never be replaced’. 

    However, the Committee believes that these reserves are there to be spent. Firstly, if our reserves are not there to be spent on projects, then what are they there to be spent on?! (Given that our intention is that the GPF and the Paper Magazine are to be funded each year by their relevant subscriptions.) Our reserves are not doing anything to increase the sum total of human knowledge about junk rig by sitting in a bank account. Secondly, the generation of junk rig enthusiasts who have raised this capital, by their s u b s c r i p t i o n s a n d g e n e r o u s donations, should be the generation that benefits, not our grandchildren. 

    This has however been a somewhat academic discussion because, in reality, for the last few years we have had few if any projects put forward to spend our reserves on. But, we are actively encouraging a number of projects and so it may soon become a real issue. 

    Any such projects might be funded from the reserves in one of two ways: 

    • A grant, eg to fund an R&D project. 

    • A transfer from the reserve to establish a Specific Purpose Fund (SPF) eg to prime the pump for the Association’s publication of a book." 

    So, parts of the above extract may give you some support for your suggestion. 

    However, your suggested 10% might actually be nearer 20%.  (Plus contingencies, plus inflation, plus, etc, etc.)   

    If you were to include such a 'percentage of (available) reserves' statement in any proposal, then you may wish to check that it is a defensible number. (No doubt the current Treasurer would give more up to date advice than this very ex Chairman.)  

    Yours aye


    Last modified: 28 Jun 2017 12:33 | Anonymous member
  • 27 Jun 2017 10:52
    Reply # 4919309 on 4913961
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great to see so many people getting involved in this.

    I accept that most junk rig owners are less concerned with performance than the other virtues of the rig, or at least, that is what they say, but secretly, I think they do care about performance. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when two (cruising) boats are sailing next to each other, a race has started!

    To me the point is that a number of brave and admirable souls have taken on the challenge of trying to improve the windward performance of the rig without compromising its other virtues. We are pretty sure they have succeeded, but we don't know exactly how successful they have been.

    Sailing boats against each other is always interesting, but the results are always compromised by the many variables that apply on the day.

    We have now reached a point where the technology exists to relatively easily measure and record for posterity the performance of (almost) any boat anywhere, and for perhaps 10% of the JRA's reserves we could make it happen. I think that would be a good use of the Association's money, and a much better use than leaving it in the bank.

    I anticipate that in a couple of years or so, given the co-operation of the owners, we could have good performance data for all the boats with development rigs and a number of older "benchmark" boats with more traditional rigs. We would then be able to see with a far greater degree of confidence how well each rig/boat combination actually performs over a range of wind directions and speeds. What judgements you make from that are up to you, but at least we would have some solid data.

    One thing that has occurred to me is that these development boats being spread across the northern & southern hemispheres is actually an advantage, because it means we can carry on testing all year round in each hemisphere's summer, provided we can courier the equipment across in the spring and autumn, which at the moment seems quite feasible, as the data loggers are quite small.

    There are of course issues to be addressed, like accuracy and calibration, but my initial research suggests that people are coming up with solutions that allow calibration to be checked by analysis of the large amount of data the new technology will allow us to gather.

    I am reviewing the devices and systems currently available and putting together a proposal for the JRA, and I will post it, or a link to it, when I have done that. It would be very helpful to hear from the developers of new rigs whether they will be willing to support and assist with the testing of their boat and rig. It could take a few days, or just as long as it takes to get a reasonable range of wind conditions. Any takers?

  • 27 Jun 2017 04:52
    Reply # 4918996 on 4913961

    Besides the one-design fleet idea (dinghy or otherwise), there is no doubt that people like Edward, Slieve, Arne and Ketil, who are putting junk rigs of various types on production yachts and racing them against fleets of bermudian yachts, do draw considerable attention to the rig, and provide one way of measuring efficiency.  If they could race against boats of the same class with other rigs it would be even more interesting.  This is a different thing to Pete Hill's original proposal, which is to evaluate the rigs against each other, but still fascinating, and a wonderful way to "fly the flag" for the JRA.  I follow the developments of innovators in the junk rig world with keen interest.

    To draw any conclusions, however, one needs an agreed set of evaluative criteria, and that, as David Tyler points out, will depend entirely on the proposed usage.  Racing and cruising inshore need quite a different set of criteria to offshore cruising.  For me, looking at it through the eyes of an offshore cruiser, the ability to beat off a lee shore is critical, but maximum speed to windward isn't.  Once a junk-rigged boat settles into a close reach in anything but light airs, it is as efficient as any other rig, and as the wind (thankfully) hauls aft of the beam, it becomes more efficient than any other rig.  And that goes for ALL junk rigs.  For me, the most important performance criterion is the ability to reef the sail without drama or tangles at 0300 in a black squall where you cannot see your hand in front of your face.  That's how I would evaluate any cruising rig.  If I decided to take up racing, I'd apply different criteria.

    So the way I see it, everybody who has contributed to this discussion is on the same page.

  • 27 Jun 2017 00:07
    Reply # 4918678 on 4913961

    No Arne, we're both on the same page and trying to sing in harmony, only with different words.

    Both Edward and I are out to get as much publicity as possible, and Edward has been particularly good at it. I got one PBO article but Edward has had 2 so far, and the chance of more to come. He even got mention in the Times and Telegraph newspapers, and is mixing with the racing boys rather than being ignored by them. I was asked to give a lecture to one club after I sailed away from a fleet of their boat and left them standing. It was well received, but only a Laser size rig came out of it.

    The trouble it that you have to beat them to really make them notice, and that is not easy on a regular basis. Unfortunately around here Amiina seems to be the only voice crying in the wilderness now that Poppy has moved on. One swallow doesn't make a summer. All I personally got, or wanted, out of building Amiina's new rig was the satisfaction of seeing her sail well and keeping the rig in the public eye. How many other junk rigged boats get any positive publicity these days?

    The whole Amiina project has been quite a challenge which no-one would go through just to make a cruising boat. It is turning heads, and therefore was well worth the effort. Assuming Edward finishes the Island Race on Saturday, she will certainly be the highest placed finisher with home made sails (as she will probably be the only boat in 700+ with home made sails).

    Cheers, Slieve.

    (IMNSHO) = ??

    Last modified: 27 Jun 2017 00:11 | Anonymous member
  • 26 Jun 2017 22:24
    Reply # 4918526 on 4913961
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Slieve, I think we are talking a bit past each other.

    My only motif for racing my Ingeborg would be to promote the junkrig (.. which btw, doesn’t motivate me hugely...). I don’t think collecting silverware or doing well on corrected (..corrupted...) time helps there. The name of the game is to turn heads, show off and stand out. If one races among boats of the same type, all it takes is to place well on elapsed time over a wide range of wind-strengths  -  (“Bogger, that thing is fast!”)

    Therefore, choose a boat type which is raced a lot in your area (Hunter Europa, Contessa 26 etc.). Then fit your favourite type of rig on it and race it regularly against the others.

    (..this is similar to how some racers were designed in the 1930s: The sail area was given, and then it was up to the designers to create a fast boat and rig, within some limitations to avoid freak boats...)

    If some of our JRs come out well, quite often, then people will take notice. Making the onlookers and competition take notice  -  that is what it is about (IMNSHO).



  • 26 Jun 2017 21:05
    Reply # 4918352 on 4913961

    My idea is to disregard handicap and corrected times. What I am after are the elapsed times of the other Splinters in the club races. These can be averaged and then be compared with Amiina’s time. One could even find the average sailed time over several races (same track?)

    If only it were that easy Arne, but it's not. Unfortunately you have to be aware of their handicaps as they don't all have the same sail area or mainsail/ split split. When we started with a rig for Amiina no sailmaker would tell us the sail area and we ended up with the 220 sq,ft figure from the van de Stadt design office and ended up with a rather tippy and lively boat. It was only when we got the Island Sailing Club's handicap that we realised that all was not well, but even they would not tell us where our figures were out as that would break into their handicap system. With a lot of smooth talking we eventually found out that it was the area that was wrong and more smooth talking from Edward got a photo copy of one boat's handicap certificates. Please note – no names and no pack drill.

    We were on our way, and I calculated 175 sq,ft, which when applied to photographs of boats together and a measuring stick gave us a lot of information, particularly that all rigs were not identical. It was like breaking into Fort Knox.

    Edward sail for two more years with first the bottom panel permanently reefed and then the top panel removed, and things were then starting to work out, though the aspect ratio was awful. So we built a new rig with a few new ideas and that is where we are now. Older and wiser.

    The boat is lovely to sail, and the handicap seems to be in the right place, and although all the other boats have differing dimensions we now have some idea of what is going on and can learn from each experience, though not with pure numbers, just a general feel and therefore hard to define.

    The point of all this is that it is not easy to make even 'identical' boat comparisons unless you control both boats (a là the Americas Cup).

    I'm hoping that by following the Race Tracker that I will be able to compare Amiina's performance with other similar and known boats with known handicaps, which after a chat with Edward should increase our knowledge base. So far this has proved to be the best way to assess the rig's performance, but this is only working for the split rig. Other rigs will have to find their own way to assess their performance and potential, and it not clear that the Associations funds would really help.

    There is no easy answer.

    Cheers, Slieve.

  • 26 Jun 2017 19:24
    Reply # 4917971 on 4913961

    This is fascinating for me....although I have to admit that I lack the patience and dedication to do serious sailboat racing in any form, with Bermudan or junk rigs, so I probably won't contribute much personally.

    One thing to consider here is what scale of performance differences we are talking about here.

    Even semi-serious racers who are using Bermudan rigs have the benefit of decades of racing comparisons and science which have figured out how to make those boats work best. Little things can improve them by 1% or maybe 3%, and the best are chasing those things with little regard for cost.

    Junk rigs as we are developing them aren't ready to chase after those last 1% things. New rig ideas (or old ones not fully tested!) could well have performance differences of 10% or 25% between them.

    The good news for those of you trying to measure/test this is that getting answers at the 10% level is a lot easier than getting them at the 1% level, and the demands to control all other variables are lower.
  • 26 Jun 2017 11:34
    Reply # 4917482 on 4913961

    Alan, it's easy to form committees but it's not so easy to get someone to do the work involved in maintaining and modifying a boat, or a pair of boats. It is not easy to get anyone to build the rigs to the designers specification as I have found when working with sailmakers, and few of us have the patience to build rigs other than for our own cruising use. To get direct comparisons would require two identical hulls of around 20 feet long which produces berthing and maintenance problems. The Americas Cup syndicates may afford that, but- - -?

    I don't think the JRA members gained anything out of sponsoring Joddy's degree course, and I'm not aware that anyone used his results or equipment to improve any rig. There was a time when one of the monthly yachting magazines (Yachting Monthly???) had a short mast they fitted to the bow of boats they tested which had a water impeller at the bottom and a wind speed/direction unit at the top which fed back to a data logger, and which produced polar curves which were published in the resultant magazine article. They may still do it as I don't read the magazines these days. Something like that might be of some use, though I was quite happy with the instruments I had on Poppy which were water speed, wind speed/ direction (relative or true), and expanded scale VNG both up wind and down. The trouble is that very few will fit such instruments to a cheap junk rigged boat. Even if a Yachting Monthly type mast unit was passed around the members to try there are still so many variations of wind strength including gusting and direction variations, sea state and bottom cleanliness to consider that you probably would not get a useful set of results, or enough information to improve the breed.

    Although I had started to fit an unstayed mast into a Mirror dinghy to test the split rig idea I quickly realised that even in a standard Gunter rigged Mirror my 195cm height and 95 Kg weight would not have given fair comparisons when sailing against two teenagers in another standard boat. I then looked for the minimum boat to do the job and nearly bought a Hunter Europa (£1750 including a road trailer!) with a view to fitting a fully variable mast position and sailing against racing Squibs which have identical hulls. I consider this to be about the minimum hull size for sensible comparisons, but then I found the Squib fleets were few and far between. Eventually I settled on the Longbow and the use of the Island Race to be able to compare performance against other cruising boats and that has worked out extremely well, not only in obtaining overall race position which depends on local race knowledge of which I have little, but on sailing along side boats which have published handicaps which although not very accurate give some indication. This worked well on Poppy, and Edward is still getting useful information now.

    It is hard to get consistent sailing comparisons. As Edward says, it requires a steady commitment which few of us have even at club level. In his case he has picked an ideal sized boat in an area where there is a local keen racing fleet of one designed boats, but that is where the problems start. The one design boats are actually different with different rudder/ skeg arrangements, and above the deck level the rigs of many of the keen racers are ridiculously expensive bits of kit with carbon sails and many other toys. The net result is that after a false start with inadequate information he is now racing single handed, with his home made sails against keenly raced highly tuned boats. The handicap system is designed around pointy headed rigs so the junk never gets a fair number and spinnaker boats are rated as slower than non spinnaker boats!?! (though the Island Sailing Club simple system is quite good for us non-pointy sails). Edward has had a couple of PBO articles written, but the comparison was against Whisper, one of the hottest boats around, and certainly not a cruising boat. It's interesting that the PBO technical editor rather likes sailing Amiina and is prepared to borrow her to impress(?) friends? This sort of interesting fact doesn't get published.

    Arne is right is saying it is worth sailing beside Bermudan sister boats, though it is hard to guarantee that a) they are trying, and b) they have equally dirty bottoms which have a huge effect. I hope he can give us a report soon.

    The problem is that few junk rigs can be compared with Bermudan sisters, particularly to windward as they really can't compete, and have got the rig a bad reputation. As far as I can see only Arne's rig and the split rig can hold their own. Ketil has shown this, along with Edward, Frank and Poppy. As far as I know junk rigged boat have only crossed the start line in the Island race on 10 occasions. Poppy competed 3 races with top third of the fleet results, despite trying to sink, and Edward has done similarly in two races with a third being windless. One other boat sailed twice, finishing in the one race completed in the bottom 10% of the fleet when the corrected handicap was applied, but did not getting past Hurst in the windless race while Edward, who had a later start had already got round the Needles. I understand one other boat tried an earlier race and gave up at Keyhaven, and a couple of years ago I followed another junk rigged boat in the race, from behind the fleet and watched it falling so far back that it was about the first to retire when Amiina (the fourth slowest boat in the race) was able to complete the course and finished with a top quarter result. In practice there are very few junk rigged boats what will enhance the junk rig's reputation on the racing circuit. So only 6 races completed out of 10, with the split rig always being top 30% of the fleet for 5 and only one other boat finishing with a below 90% result. 'Nuff said!

    David's suggestion of the Hunter Sonata is a good one, but who would do the work, and if the rigs weren't good enough then would they get good publicity for the rig? Moreover, being a keenly raced fleet the Sonata would be another case of a cruising junk rig sailed by an amateur fiddler competing with the hot tuned racing enthusiasts. The bilge keeled Horizon 23 (Weaverbird) would be a more sensible cruising boat choice, and one that I had considered when looking at the Europa, though the price was not right.

    You've asked a good question, Alan, but there just doesn't seem to be an easy answer, even with money burning a hole in our pockets. The Yachting Monthly(?) mast might be a good idea, but how much would we actually learn from it? I doubt if it would make any material difference to the breed. There could be better use for the spare funds.

    Cheers, Slieve.

    PS I am a member of AYRS, though have been little involved recently.

    Last modified: 26 Jun 2017 15:42 | Anonymous member
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