All About The FJ

All About The FJ


The Fj is the shorter name for Flying Junior. The Flying Junior or FJ is a sailing dinghy which was designed in 1955 in the Netherlands by renowned boat designer Van Essen and Olympic sailor Conrad Gülcher. The FJ was built to serve as a training boat for the Olympic class Flying Dutchman. The FJ has a beam of 4’11” and an overall sail area of 100 square feet. These dimensions make the FJ an ideal class to teach young sailors the skills of boat handling and racing. Today the FJ is sailed in Japan, Canada, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United States. In the US, many high school sailing and Intercollegiate Sailing Association programs own fleets of FJs. The college and high school programs in the US use a version of the FJ known as the Club FJ. This boat is slightly different from the International FJ in that it does not use Trapeze and it has a smaller, non-spherical Spinnaker.


The Fj is the boat we will sail at practice and competition mainly. You will over time learn its strengths, weaknesses, and tricks. On the FJ we have two sails. One mainsail and one jib. The mainsail is the skipper’s job and the jib is the crew’s job. The mainsail is the bigger sail that will catch all the air and make your boat go fast! The jib is to balance out the boat and make it be able to go longer distances in shorter times.


When going upwind the Skipper will pull the mainsail in and out as it seems fit to the wind. The more pulled in, the more air it catches, therefore making it go faster. The crew will always have his jib pulled in 100% on the upwind. This helps the boat to stay faster and the skipper be able to read the boat cues easier. If the skipper and crew work together with their sails and communicate then the outcome is a very fast boat!


On the downwind, the crew will push the boom out across the boat to where it’s at a 90-degree angle. The skipper will have the rope loosely to the mainsail and be leaning over the boat to make sure the jib catches the wind. The ideal state is for the boat to be “wing on wing” where the mainsail is on one side and the jib is on the opposite. Sometimes the wind will not let you go wing on the wing though, so your other option is to have your mainsail on the same side. This usually catches less wind but still makes your boat go fast on the downwind. 


Here are some tips and tricks when sailing the FJ…

  1. Always know which way the wind is coming from. This will help you know where you need to point your boat and how you can get across the water the fastest
  2. Put the daggerboard half way up when going downwind. This reduces friction between the boat and the water, causing the boat to be faster.
  3. If you are sailing in heavy wind. You should let out your mainsail a bit, lean out over the boat, and then pull the sail back in. This helps to dump the air out and get your boat flat while also giving a boost of speed.
  4. Learn the names of the different rope on the boat. You have your Cunningham, outhaul, and vang all memorized. This will help when your coach is yelling at you to pull one of them in or make them looser.
  5. Have your crew sit backward. This helps so they don’t have to flip around every time you tack and also it means the skipper is looking forward and the crew is looking back so you cant hit anything and you always have sight of your surroundings.

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