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Fitting a junk rig to a Klepper kayak

A junk rig has many good qualities that make it peculiarly well suited to driving the rather unstable kayak hull. It is a gentle sail: it does not flap wildly when let go and it can be dropped in a second. It requires no headsail, so the entire rig can be serviced from a sitting position. In the design described here the mast also can be erected and taken down from a sitting position.

Klepper kayak with junk rig

The author at the helm of his Klepper Aerius 2000 with junk rig. The single leeboard is hidden on the other side of the boat. Click to enlarge image.
Photo by Nicolas Padfield.

The Klepper kayak is well suited to sailing. It has a large cockpit and a mast step. The standard upwind rig for the Klepper has side keels mounted on a crossbar which clamps across the front of the cockpit. This gets in the way of paddling, which is a useful, often the only, way to turn the boat in a confined space. In this rig, a single side keel is thrown over the lee side of the boat and held in place by ropes, as described later.

The disadvantages of the Junk rig on a kayak

The junk rig is not renowned for its upwind performance. The rig described here functions perfectly well with the wind on the beam, but that is the limit for useful progress. On the other hand, paddling a kayak directly into the wind is not necessarily slower than sailing a modern yacht, tacking in the same direction. It is, in any case, impossible to go about with this rig, the kayak has good directional stability and the rudder is too small to turn it quickly enough. The only way to get the wind on the other side of the sail is to gybe.

I show the details of the rig on another page, but notice in the picture here some simplifications of the classic junk rig. These work because the sail is so small. There are no lazy jacks to hold the sail as it is dropped or reefed. One just puts an arm out to collect the sail. Reefing strings are attached to the third batten from the bottom (counting the boom). The sheet is attached only at the bottom. This is not ideal, as explained later, but it saves getting the strings in an awful mess, which is the real weak point of the orthodox junk rig on a small boat. There is no rope to haul the top of the yard close to the mast. This is not necessary here, as explained later.

If you are intrigued by this unusual rig you can read more technical details on the next page.


If you want to know more about the Klepper kayak, a wonderful boat for coastal and river exploration, the home page is at www.klepper.com

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