[The following article appeared in the Winter 1999 issue of "Builders Beat", a newsletter about Force Five boats. The newsletter is sent to over 2000 active Force Five sailors. There are more than 16,000 Force Fives in the United States, with a National Class Association sponoring race series in seven regions across the country.
As a lightweight Force Five sailor and occasional racer, I felt the existing Junior rig was inadequate for sailors under 140 pounds. The existing class-legal racing mast is poorly matched to the class-legal Junior sail. Even though the Junior sail (67 square feet) is much smaller than the full sized Race sail (91 square feet), it is no easier to handle in gusty winds over 20 mph because the bending character of the mast is mis-matched to the sail.
I worked with Brian Weeks, the manufacturers of the Force Five and also the 1998 North American Champion, to develop a mast for the Junior sail that would flex properly, allowing the upper leech of the sail to twist off in heavy winds and gusts, like the full size Race rig does. I was the "test pilot"
Just as the Sunfish has its Hookensen or Jens Rig for heavy air, it seems as if the Force 5 may now have the "Blumhorst Rig." This past summer a California woman by the name of Judy Blumhorst complained that although the Force 5 has a junior/storm/recreational sail, it didn't seem to make that much of a difference when it was blowing very hard. At 105 pounds and living near and sailing on San Francisco Bay, she had a right to protest. Her contention, just as Weeks Yacht Yard R&D man Brian Weeks had concluded several years earlier, was that by removing the upper mast section when putting on the storm sail (leaving just the lower and mid sections of spar), you reduced sail area from 91 to 62 square feet, but you had also taken the bendiest section of spar out of the picture.
After several phone conversations and a little bend testing, Blumhorst and Weeks came up with a new idea. Although the smaller sail may not win you a race, it would be nice to sail comfortably flat and depowered upwind in a blow and reduce the chance of flipping. The new rig they came up with has a lower section that is cut off three feet shorter and a mid section that is three feet longer. After testing the rig it proved to be much better. The bend characteristics were restored to the rig and sail. Now in a heavy blow the leech of the sail can open as the top mast section bends and the boat can depower and feather to windward just as the big rig can.Thanks Judy and thanks Brian. Mission accomplished. The new sections are available through Weeks Yacht Yard at 800-994-7747. If you have a spare lower section, you can cut it down and just order the new mid section.
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