Best Boats 2018: J/121

Best Performance Boat 30 to 40 ft
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The people at J/Boats are obviously good designers and boatbuilders. Their record in this area stands for itself. However, ever since the advent of Rod Johnstone’s iconic J/24, they have also shown an uncanny ability to discern what exactly it is sailors are looking for in their next boat: think the J/105 and its then cutting-edge retracting bowsprit, or the phenomenon that is the J/70 sport boat. The latest in this long line of outside-the-box designs is the new 40ft J/121, a boat specifically tailored to appeal to skippers who are 1) tired of having to round up eight to 10 people to go racing and 2) are looking for something other the usual windward-leeward “sausage” courses that now dominate inshore racing.

To this end the boat carries a “five-sail” rig that includes a main, jib and removable staysail, a la the IMOCA 60 class, to make shifting gears with a crew of as little as five a snap, whether sailing inshore or off soundings. (A Code 0 or A-sail—sails #4 and 5—can be flown off the boat’s retractable sprit.) To keep the boat on its feet, designer Al Johnstone has also included an easy-to-use water ballast system that can shift 104gal from side to side—the equivalent of four bodies worth of rail meat that’ll never call in sick or have scheduling conflicts.

With respect to courses, J/Boats is promoting something called “Open Course” racing, middle distance events that offer the best of both inshore and distance events (think the Famous Three-Bridge Fiasco regatta on San Francisco Bay). The boat would also be perfect for shorthanded offshore racing, whether it be a shorter event like the Ida Lewis distance race or the Marblehead-Halifax. Oh, and did we mention the boat sails like a witch and is a stunner to boot? A winner in every sense of the word. jboats.com

December 2017

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