Sailing Anarchy Review

By Scot Tempesta

Many have tried; most have failed in the quest to build a right and proper racer/cruiser. While there are a few bright exceptions, most fall disappointingly short in one category or the other. Of course, the category where most of them fail is as a racer. The main culprits can often be narrowed down to these unfortunate characteristics: Too heavy, poor layout, small cockpits, and weak sail plans.

I had the chance to test sail one of the latest entrants into the R/C arena, the new J-109, courtesy of Jeff Trask and the So Cal J-Boat Dealer, Sail California (www.sailcal.com). In typical fashion, J-Boats have done a good job, through their national advertising, in presenting this boat as a very attractive product, so I must admit I already liked the boat, at least in pictures, before I had actually seen it. I guess that advertising stuff really works.

We sailed out of Newport Beach, and upon first seeing the boat, my initial thought was that it is a handsome, well-proportioned, modern-looking boat. Stylistically, while still clearly a J-Boat, the 109 exhibits a slightly more progressive look than previous efforts. It is worth noting that this design was a collaboration of Rod Johnstone and son Alan, with Alan assuming the lead chair. At a touch over 35', the first impression is that it is a big boat, with a good sized cockpit, long but low cabin house, big rig, sprit, almost plumb bow, and enough freeboard to tell you there is going to be plenty of room below. While the stern section is not substantially different from, for example, the J-120, it is not quite as squatty and did not seem to drag like some (all) J-Boats do. A subtle difference. The cockpit had a pretty slick removable "dockbox" locker just aft of the helmsman - a pretty neat way to quickly go from cruise to race, at least a little bit. The 109 has plenty of high-quality standard equipment; (including Harken winches, adjustable genoa tracks, and RF unit), folding prop. Just in case you forget that it is a racer/cruiser, it even comes with a dodger!


Sailing World Magazine Review

By Tony Bessinger

Are you tired of losing races and having lousy cruises with your not-so-dual-purpose boat? Worried about being the first (and last) buyer of a “promising” class that doesn’t quite pan out? Take the fear out of commitment and look at the J/109, a 35-footer that joins the short list of accomplished production-built racer/cruisers. 

If you haven’t actually seen the J/109 yet, you’re probably wondering how it stacks up with a stablemate that’s nearly the same length, the J/105. “The two boats appeal to different people,” says designer Alan Johnstone. “The 109 is 12 years newer, faster, and is more comfortable for cruising. The 105 is for people who live close to where they keep their boat.” Compared to the 105, the 109 has overlapping headsails and more interior volume, the result of the larger boat’s initial target market. “This boat was originally designed for the European market,” says Jeff Johnstone of J Boats. “The demand there is for a boat that sails well, can comfortably handle a crew living aboard for weekend regattas, and does reasonably well under IRC and IMS.” Reasonably well might be an understatement; the 109 has scored big in Europe since its introduction in 1999, winning the Rolex Middle Sea Race and Cowes Week.

The J/109 is a tad over 35 feet long, and weighs 10,900 pounds empty. It has a purposeful, racy style, with an almost vertical bow above a waterline-kissing knuckle, and an open stern. The deckhouse is low and long and helps give the boat an overall pleasing look. A carbon sprit housed in a self-draining tube peeks out of the hull just below deckline on the starboard side. The aluminum rig is tall without being freakish, and sports a sailplan that carries a 155-percent jib and an asymmetric runner that, at 1,291 square feet, shouldn’t scare you half to death in a breeze. For windier days, J Boats suggests a flatter, 968-square-foot reaching spinnaker. Total sail area upwind is a healthy 644 square feet.