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Sunday 28 August 2016

The Junior that came before the senior

Image: J-Klubben
You might think that a boat widely known by the name “Junior Folkboat” must be a newer design derived from the famous Nordic Folkboat cruiser racer. In this case, however, the “junior” is the older class, and although it looks so much like a scaled-down Folkboat that it fully earns its nickname, the two designs are unrelated.

In 1928, a decade and a half before the birth of the Folkboat, the Royal Danish Yacht Club (KDY) was looking for suitable design for its young members to use as training boats. Swedish designer Erik Salander was approached and came up with a neat and attractive small, half-decked keelboat with a steeply raked transom stern. Apparently this transom was considered an unusual feature for a sailing yacht at the time when most Baltic
The first KDY Junior
yacht designs sported either a long overhanging counter or a short canoe stern. The raked transom stern seems to have derived more from a fishing boat tradition and raised a few eyebrows among the yachty types.  One such critic - presumably a hunting and shooting enthusiast - described it as looking like a bird that had been shot in the tail.

However, the KDY 15sq.m., as it was originally designated, turned out to be a little peach of a seaboat, coping well with strong winds, choppy seas, and enthusiastic teenage sailors and trainee crews. Known as the KDY Junior Boat (Juniorbåd), and identified by the letter J on its sail, it was adopted by the club and 6 were built within the first couple of years. By 1930 the neighbouring Hellerup sailing club had commissioned 3 boats to the same design, and soon other clubs were taking an interest,so that some inter-club rivalry and racing quickly developed. 

The original rig, with a long boom projecting abaft the transom, and a rather small jib, was found to give the Junior a tendency to excessive weather helm in stronger winds, so around 1932 it was
Image: J-Klubben
modified. The boom was shortened and the foretriangle increased in height to compensate. A much better balanced boat was the result, easier for youngsters to steer and race in stronger winds.

By 1947 around 120 boats had been built in Denmark and Sweden. They were not, however, all the same, having been built in a variety of different yards or even by amateur builders, to many different interpretations of the lines, rig, scantlings, etc. It was decided by the original clubs to form a class committee and to get Erik Salander to produce an official set of construction rules.

In the 50s and 60s the Juniorbåd increased in popularity and spread, across the Baltic and beyond, to clubs in Germany, where it became tagged "Junior Folkboat", and Holland, where it is known as the Danish Junior.  Like many other popular classes, including the Nordic Folkboat, it survived the change to GRP hull construction, so that now racing fleets are all comprised of the newer fibreglass versions, though there are still many wooden boats in service.

Finally, could the design of the Junior have influenced Tord Sunden in his eventual design proposal for the Folkboat in 1942?  I think it's a near certainty that Sunden knew of the success of the Junior and its excellent sailing qualities.  The similarity of the profiles of the two hulls, and in particular Sunden's adoption of the raked transom, make it, for me, a case of the Junior being, in this case, the parent. 

KDY Junior

Erik Salander (Sweden)

LOA:  5.70m
LWL:  4.50m
Beam: 1.75m
Sail area: 15sq.m. (160 sq.ft approx)
Displacement: 695Kg
Ballast:  275Kg

Images, drawings and information: J-Klubben (Denmark)