When news broke over a year ago that Bob Johnson, the CEO and chief designer at Florida’s Island Packet Yachts, and Tim Jackett, formerly the head naval architect at C&C and Tartan, had decided to join forces on a new boat, it sounded like an interesting collaboration — on paper at least. It seemed everyone in the marine industry was extremely curious to see what they would come up with.
Like Lennon and McCartney, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, in figurative terms the Jackett and Johnson pairing also produced some beautiful music. The pair’s first project definitely resonated with our judges, and notched not one but two winning hits of its own: Their Blue Jacket 40 is both this year’s Best Midsize Cruiser, 39-41 Feet, as well as 2014’s Domestic Boat of the Year.
“Tim Jackett drew the original lines for the boat but Bob Johnson also had a hand in the design,” explained Tim Murphy. “Then the boat was built by Island Packet and it’s terrific. It’s a core laminate and they’re doing it very carefully and making sure they get the process right. Structurally, IP has built great boats forever, and while this is their first infused hull, it’s really wonderful.”
According to its design brief, the Blue Jacket 40 is a moderate-displacement performance cruiser, and the judging team believed it strongly addressed those parameters.
“The self-tacking inner jib, on the Hoyt boom, had a nice shape all the way out into a deep reach,” said Murphy, describing the test sail on Chesapeake Bay. “When you come on the wind and tack back and forth, it’s a breeze to sail. Later, when we were reaching with the screacher, it was a real pleasure. On many boats that’s a tiresome point of sail, but it was a whole lot of fun on the Blue Jacket.
“The displacement is modest and it felt nice,” Murphy added. “There was a bit of chop but the boat tracked beautifully, with no up-and-down pitching. The bow is relatively plumb so you don’t have much overhang there, so there’s buoyancy forward. I loved this boat.”
Mark Schrader agreed: “The workmanship is top-notch. The cockpit works well. The rounded house top is great for moving around on deck under way.”
So, now that the Blue Jacket has been unveiled, what’s the verdict on Johnson’s and Jackett’s first creation?
“This,” concluded Murphy, “is an example of a great marriage.”
View more photos of the Blue Jacket 40