Regal J Boats May Set Sail Again

"At Sea" from our May 9, 2007, CW Reckonings


Designers at Sparkman & Stephens have been revisiting plans for 1930s J Class sailboats like Ranger (above) for possible new builds.

The yacht-design firm of Sparkman & Stephens is poised to resurrect the stately J Class sailboats, known for gracing America’s Cup courses off of Newport, Rhode Island, in the 1930s.

There’s been a recent surge of interest in the class, and S&S is analyzing the plans and model-test data it used in the development of 1937 Cup winner Ranger for possible new builds. The J Class only existed from 1930 to 1937, and only 10 were built; Endeavor, Shamrock V, and Velsheda are the only originals left.

The renewed interest in these powerful racers as well as new regulations established by the J Class Association means intriguing opportunities for interested clients. “We’ve been contacted by several serious yachtsmen about building J Class yachts for racing, cruising, and charter,” said Gregory Matzat, S&S president and chief naval architect. “We believe momentum is building toward creation of more of these magnificent vessels.”


Both Ranger and Endeavor were built to the maximum waterline length of 87 feet. In addition to the 10 J boats built, there are pre-1939 lines for eight additional hulls, all of which have 87-foot waterlines. S&S owns the designs to seven.

While all of the models had 87-foot waterlines, they had different beams, displacements, and centers of buoyancy, among other varying features. Therefore, these differing models provide prospective J boat owners more options for preferred accommodations.

According to Matzat, S&S studies show that all of the plans will provide fast boats, but the differences offer potential customers the ability to select the lines that best meet their personal requirements, be it racing, chartering, or simply cruising in style.


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