Leisure 27 junk rig conversion

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  • 13 Jan 2023 14:40
    Reply # 13055849 on 13055766

    Hi, John,

    Welcome to the JRA.


    I think it's fair to say that any boat can be converted to Junk Rig. Ultimately all you are doing is changing one form of sail for another.


    The type of Junk Rig you put on the boat will depend on where the position of the mast heel inside the cabin best works for your use.

    The classic Hasler type or Arne type will place the mast further forward in the boat, while SJR or other types with more sail area forward of the mast will place the mast more aft.

    Placement of the sail in relation to the boat depends mainly on where the original Centre of Effort of the sail is, with the CE of the selected rig ending up at or close to the original Bermudan rig and how it sailed with that rig Weather helm, Neutral or Lee helm.

    From everything I've read, no person who has converted their boat has said it was a mistake.


    Of course converting involves a fair amount of work.

    I think there are companies who will do it for you for a fee and others who will design or build the sail or you may decide to do it all for yourself.

    The Junk rig lessens the work load and it sounds like it would be ideal for your sailing profile.

    Just how to get it done.

    You'll get plenty of free advice here for sure.

  • 13 Jan 2023 13:27
    Message # 13055766

    This is my first post, having followed up on at least of my New Year's resolutions and joined the JRA! Apologies if it is a bit long and involved.

    I have been interested in junk rig for a few years, having read Roger Taylor's books and then worked my way through PJR.

    This year I plan to produce a very basic junk rig for my 8ft Y-Emma pram dinghy to try and teach myself more about building and sailing the rig in practice. Hopefully this should be relatively straightforward as the original rig is a lug sail on a freestanding mast.

    However, my ultimate objective is to consider whether a junk rig conversion for our Leisure 27 yacht would be workable / worthwhile. So far as I am aware this hasn't been done to date (or at least if it has there are no details online).

    We have sailed this boat for the last 10 years so I am pretty familiar with her performance under the current rig and strengths and weaknesses, which I have summarised here to try and give some insight into my thought process.

    It's worth mentioning that she has actually been in our family (or rather my wife's) since she was built in 1978 so there is quite a lot of history and sentimental attachment, as well as the more pragmatic factor that I am confident with how she has been maintained, familiar with all the systems etc. This is why my thoughts are focussed more on a conversion rather than what might be the simpler route of just trying to buy an existing JR yacht.

    Basically the L27 is a medium displacement (c. 3000kg) cruising yacht from the 70s which is known for being solid with great accommodation for the size, but to be fair not for sparkling sailing performance.

    The original rig is a masthead bermudan sloop with overlapping genoa. We have the usual 135% on a furler. This has the benefits and disadvantages common to this rig, but the particular bugbear for me is the difficulty in sailing efficiently downwind on anything lower than a broad reach without having to deploy either a pole for the genoa or a symmetric spinnaker. I generally sail either single or short handed so neither of these are ideal solutions, particularly in any kind of sea.  On the plus side the main is pretty tiny (12m2) so reefing is not particularly challenging.

    The boat is the bilge keel version so not massively close winded, but she sails fairly well upwind given a reasonable breeze within the limits of the bilge keels and her general full form, which is quite beamy and tends to generate a lot of weather helm when heeled beyond a certain point. The biggest issue is that she is not particularly easily driven due to the beamy hull and feels underpowered and slow in lighter airs, which leads to a lot of motor sailing. The total area of the existing sail plan is around 37m2 under white sails.

    In theory the hull speed is about 6.2 knots, but realistically in good conditions (F3+ and relatively flat water) I would expect to achieve 4 knots upwind and only really hit 5.5 knots on a beam reach or deeper with a F4 or above.

    The rudder is on a skeg and I think is on the small side which means that she doesn't pivot particularly quickly when manoeuvring and can be prone to rounding up / broaching when pressed too hard, but otherwise she is generally well behaved under sail and tacks easily without getting caught in irons.

    The L27 does have a reputation for weather helm, but I have found that most of this can be trimmed out by keeping weight out of the bow and careful sail trim. The exception to this is the weather helm caused by the beamy hull when heeled far over, which is unavoidable.

    In terms of mast position I haven't worked out fully where a junk mast would need to positioned, but I suspect in the region of where the fore hatch currently sits. The fairly high top sides seem to suggest there would be a decent amount of bury for an unstayed mast and there appears to be space / access to glass a mast foot into the bilge. As we have twin keels this wouldn't be "keel stepped" as such and would require reinforcement, but my understanding is that compressive loads are much lower with the unstayed mast. 

    The deck is balsa cored GRP and the layout of this and throughout the boat is fairly heavy.

    Current mast is deck stepped so no hole to fill in following a change to JR.

    There are a lot more vital statistics on the LOA website Leisure Owners Association  including a decent side on view of the hull and sail plan. The file seems to be too large to add into this post as a picture, but I have attached it. 

    In broad terms I am drawn towards something like Arne's Johanna rig with cambered panels. The boat is mostly used for day / weekend sailing and North Sea cruises so I'm more focussed on reasonable performance than the ultimate ocean sailing simplicity / reliability of the flat JR. The focus really is on ending up with a rig which encourages more sailing (rather than motor sailing) with a single or short handed crew.

    So I guess based on all the above, I would be interested to know whether anyone has experience of JR conversion on similar models of boat or any thoughts as to whether any of the factors above would mitigate strongly against a junk rig for this boat. There are obviously universal factors (cost, amount of work required, resale value etc.) which apply on any conversion, but at this stage I am looking more at suitability of this specific boat to try and work out whether it's worth the time and effort of pursuing this further.

    I did ask a similar question in the Leisure Owners association forum and the general consensus was that I would be crazy to even consider it, but I suspect this was based more on unfamiliarity with the rig rather than any particularly objective factors. 

    Any thoughts (positive or negative) would be most gratefully received!


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