The J/100 is an interesting counterpoint to the three dayboats featured in this article. Unlike the Hinckley, the Morris, and the Friendship, which began with traditional designs brought into the new millennium via modern underbodies and cutting-edge gear, J/Boats started with a thoroughly modern design, then added state-of-the-art systems and hardware to evoke an age-old carefree feeling of simplicity and efficiency.
Evidently, the approach has worked famously. Hull number one was launched only last July, but by the end of 2004, hull number 23 was close to completion, and orders had been received through hull number 74, which is due to leave the Pearson Composites plant in Warren, Rhode Island, this August. Not only that, but Sailing World named the J/100 its Overall Boat of the Year for 2005.
The J/100 was the brainchild of Bob Johnstone, a founding partner, with his brother, Rod, of J/Boats Inc. “He’s in his 60s, and he wanted a boat for himself that he could sail in Maine,” said J/Boat sales manager Jim Johnstone, son of Rod. “You’re 60, and your mind’s working, but your body isn’t operating quite the way you’d like it to. But you’re still sailing–overnighting or on the beer-can circuit.
“The specific target market for the J/100 is the baby-boomer generation,” Jim added. “The kids are out of the house, and the parents don’t want to have to find crew every time they want to go for a sail. Some J/100 customers have come back into sailing because of the concept of this boat.”
The Hoyt self-tacking jib boom is only one of many attributes that make the J/100 conducive to fast, spontaneous getaways at the end of the work day. For one-design racing, the boomed 90-percent jib can be replaced with a hanked-on jib on a set-back headstay. When using the tiller extension, the helmsman can easily reach the halyard clutches. When the mainsail is raised at the mooring, the J/100 behaves; it doesn’t tend to catch the wind and sail sideways.
Without moving an inch from his steering position, the solo sailor can adjust the hydraulic backstay, tucked out of the way under the tiller, and the traveler adjuster, with its cam cleat conveniently mounted on the Harken windward sheeting car.
The cockpit is voluminous, with 9 1/2-foot seats and nearly 14-inch backrests, yet even short sailors can brace themselves with feet on the leeward seat. All horizontal surfaces are armed with dynamite nonskid, and the side decks are wide and clear for quick action by the solo crew. A telescoping ladder on the stern swim platform is standard; a dodger isn’t. “If you need a dodger,” said Jim, “you probably won’t go sailing.”
Lifelines aren’t required by J/100 class rules, but more than half of the boats have them, and simply installed retrofit kits are available. Handy Wichard flush-folding padeyes are placed strategically on deck, out of the way but ready to receive a spinnaker block, a fender, or a bag full of beers.
The cabin is bare-bones: no galley (just a cooler aft of the starboard settee), no nav station (but plenty of shelf space for navigation tools), no enclosed head (the entire forward cabin converts to a head with a sink and mirrored-door cabinets). A single 95-amp-hour AGM battery under the companionway steps starts the engine and powers the standard automatic bilge pump. Accommodations are port and starboard settees. A V-berth isn’t standard; the area in the forepeak is dedicated to open sail and storage bins. “We’re not allowing any custom options, but we’ve extended the list of standard items,” said Jim. “By eliminating the custom options, we avoid having oddball boats in the class with diminished resale value.”
The plumb-bowed hull is of composite construction using the SCRIMP resin-infusion system and cored with Baltek Contourkore end-grained balsa. For stability, the J/100’s relatively narrow hull depends on a modern fin keel with a wedge-shaped bulb. Eleven gelcoat shades are available. The most popular? A lustrous “flag blue.”
“Old salts tend to check off their requirements as they go through the boat, and it works for them,” said Jim. “Racers look it over and see they can make it as fast as they want. It’s a versatile, idiot-proof boat.”
LOA 32′ 10″ (10 m.)
LWL 29′ 0″ (8.84 m.)
Beam 9′ 3″ (2.82 m.)
Draft 5′ 7″ (1.75 m.)
Sail Area 478 sq. ft. (44.4 sq. m.)
Ballast 2,500 lb. (1,134 kg.)
Displacement 6,500 lb. (2,948 kg.)
Auxiliary 10-hp. Volvo saildrive
Designer Rodney S. Johnstone
Sailaway Price $139,000