J/100-The Perfect Day Racer/Weekender
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
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 boatspeed 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
boatlength, 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.