SAILING WORLD REVIEW
J/100-The Perfect Day Racer/Weekender
J Boats, with their slogan "Better Boats for People who Love to Sail," has done it again. The J/100, a sleek 33-footer, has all the ingredients for a winning Boat of the Year formula: looks, simplicity, speed, and price. The J/100 is eye-catching mooring candy. I remember sitting at the New York YC in Newport, R.I., last summer looking down the hill at hull No. 1. There was something about the dark color and narrow beam of the boat that brought my eye back to it over, and over, and over again. The mooring field was full of yachts, ranging in size, and all I could do was to imagine what it would be like to sail this one. I was pleased,
because I knew it was registered for the 2005 BOTY contest, and that I'd be taking it for a spin in a couple of months. It was entertaining to hear out-of-towners trying to figure out what kind of boat it was-the ads that J Boats had run to that point had only been computer renderings and line drawings. When someone finally said: "It's the new J/100," all I heard was: "Wow."
The J/100 is quite clean on the deck, everything is led aft, making it easy for shorthanded sailing. I've seen the J/100 both with and without the optional, self-tacking Hoyt Boom for the headsail. The boats that don't have it appear a touch larger because of the large open deck area forwarded of the mast. I personally would prefer using the boom and sailing shorthanded, maybe on one of those weekend races to Block Island or Cuttyhunk. I also like the look of the J/100 when the dodger is up; it looks like the perfect weekender racer/cruiser or pocket rocket. With the long, narrow lines she looks like a standout performer.
The simplicity theme continues down below. Sleeping four, it has an optional V-berth forward, and two side berths in the middle of the boat. A standard marine head and sink is forward and there's a door that separates the main part of the cabin from the V-berth. There's no built-in fridge, just a large cooler-obviously not the set-up to venture across the Atlantic, but over to Martha's Vineyard, no problem. The easy access to the engine makes switching out a filter quick and simple, although I have to say the soundproofing in the engine box didn't work well on the boat we test-sailed. The lighting is basic with a few reading lamps and overheads, another tip-off that this isn't a 33-footer to sail to Bermuda. Access to the keel bolts and bilge is great. The only other negative I saw down below was the lack of ventilation, I could see it getting a bit musty.
The J/100 feels like a large, stable dinghy with speed. When stepping aboard you feel that slight heel which you tend to feel in most light keelboats, probably because it only displaces 6000 pounds. As you can imagine, the boat is quite sensitive to weight placement while sailing. If the mainsail trimmer goes to leeward to release the traveler, it's noticeable. When all four or five crew are sitting to weather-legs in, there are gentleman rules for this class-it gets in the sweetest of grooves, locking into spectacular upwind numbers. The acceleration is excellent, and you build boat speed quicker than any boat I've sailed in
a long time.
The J/100 also turns on a dime. While performing the standard 360-degree turn test, we noticed that the boat spins well inside one
boat length, with speed, and will climb back to its previous numbers in no time. The tacking angles are quite high, and the boat never drops much in speed while changing tacks. Another noticeable quality is that it holds its speed well through the lulls, where you see other boats dropping off quickly and having to change gears to accommodate. I think just a bit of backstay ease and some traveler up is all you've got to do to change gears on this boat.
A tiller makes all the difference in the world when it comes to sailing. Sometimes, when you steer boats that are in the lower to mid 30-foot range, they can wipe out or have rudder stall. Not the J/100; I tried my best to wipe it out, but had no success. The rudder is plenty deep enough for this kid.
Downwind is fun. The A-Sail makes life easy, and the boat reacts with a lot of pep. When a puff comes on you can feel it accelerate with the ability to "ride down" to almost any angle you want to go to; a great feeling. Jibing is simple, you just have to watch out that you don't turn too quickly. Because the boat is so light, the clew may not make it through in time to load up on the new jibe. I also think they could have extended the grab rails farther aft toward the cockpit; it gets a bit tricky getting from the foredeck to the cockpit with no life lines and the rail ending so quickly. I know, the theory of this boat is you'll never have to go forward, but the occasional kite debacle happens, and the need to "run up there" will occur.
At $135,000, ready to race, the J/100 is the ideal purchase for a wide range of sailors: retiring and wanting a daysailer that performs; current J owners looking for their next J Boat; the family looking to race at the club level together, and many others. The Hall Rig, Harken and Spinlock gear are all products that will last a long, long time.
The J/100 was the clear choice to be our Overall Winner in The 2005 Sailing World-Boat of the Year Competition. With its aesthetically pleasing features, simplistic design, and superb sailing characteristics all bundled up at a remarkably low price, I'd have to say J Boats-to use a Red Sox analogy-has hit it off the top of the Green Monster. Anyone who appreciates performance day racing/cruising needs to schedule a sail on the J/100.
November 15, 2004
by Chuck Allen/ SAILING WORLD
48 NORTH REVIEW
For A Day's Sail!
There was a lot of hoopla surrounding the J/100 when it first came out, so we were pleased to be able to finally jump on one in Puget Sound.
The J/100 makes no bones about what it was designed for: to be a 33-foot daysailer that can be sailed easily shorthanded, with hot performance for club racing or just to recapture the joy of sailing in the dinghy days. As the brochure says, it's the "Sunfish or Hobie of the 1960's or their J/24 of the 1980's ...reincarnated."
We headed out into Elliott Bay after a squall which left light winds and a lot of slop. The narrow boat cut through nicely, feeling very solid. Like a meter boat, it rolls over a little bit, finds a groove and goes.
The boat we were on had the Hoyt Jib Boom, where the loose footed jib was trimmed with a continues sheet. Sailing short handed, you could literally set it and forget it tacking upwind. The jib on the boom doesn't have the adjustability of a standard jib, but performs well. And, it acts as a pole off the wind for wing and wing. The jib boom, however, is removable for racing.
The main is loose-footed on a Hall Carbon Mast (optional) and aluminum boom. The luff goes up a track mounted on the mast, with two Harken cars at the head and one at the batten. Picture a vertical traveler for the idea. It hoisted very easily, with the winch only needed for final adjustment. The Harken traveler is about mid cockpit.
Speaking of that, you could hold a class reunion in the cockpit. At 9.5-feet, it really gives that open, dinghy feel to the boat, especially with tiller steering. For just daysailing you can take a lot of friends along for a ride.
The owner had selected Quantum sails for the boat; jib and main of Fusion Membrane, and Code Zero (large, light asymmetrical spinnaker flown from the bow) of Dimension CZ15.
For racing the boat uses a standard spinnaker pole setup. The Code Zero was set up for roller furling so we rolled it out and rolled along. We moved nicely in very light wind, wishing for a few gusts just to spring her loose. We were doing 2 knots in no wind and slop, which is pretty good, and she accelerated well when the occasional puff came through. Others who have sailed the boat said that in about 5-6 knots of wind they were doing 6-7 knots with the Code Zero.
Normally, in this part of the review, we talk about accommodations down below. This will not take long as, basically, there's places for four people to sleep and that's about it. If you're tall, you can't sit up straight, or at least lean back without hitting your head. For keeping food and drink cold, there is a cooler. That's about it. Pretty basic, but light. On the other hand, accessibility to most everything is right there; engine, sail-drive, electronics.
With the reputation of being able to 'spin on a dime', we had to try it, and it did. The deep rudder gives a good bite and very good control. There was a Volvo 10 HP on this boat which pushed us a about 6.5 knots. Later versions are coming with a Yanmar 18.
The J/100 is a lot of fun and it's easy to see why Sailing World picked it as their 2005 Boat of the Year. It's an attractive looking, easy handling day sailer that can be set up for sailing from restaurant to restaurant or competitively buoy to buoy -- or both.
Thanks to Lance McDonough of Sail Northwest for the ride, and Tony Zecca for pulling lines.
By Richard Hazelton/ 48 NORTH