As first impressions go, J/100 hull number two stood out in fine company moored off the New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court facility in Newport, Rhode Island. From shore I sized up the boat lying still at her mooring—plumb bow, clean and simple deck, wide-open cockpit, narrow blue hull, and rakish lines. But how would this new daysailer go? The boat's prime harbor environs, a somewhat crowded mooring field, would provide an excellent test of its maneuverability under sail.
Jim Johnstone, of family-run J/Boats, and I went straight to work in the early traces of a sea breeze. Up went the lightweight mainsail, a smooth operation aided by Harken's new Slider Battcars, which have no ball bearings. Jim unfurled the blade jib, and I steered as we reached away.
Of last year's high-profile class of luxury daysailers—including the Morris 36, Hinckley DS42, and Friendship 40—the J/100 is the only performance boat in the group and arguably its only true daysailer. A few things make this boat a joy to sail. Under main and jib alone—478 square feet of sail—the 6,500-pound boat has ample horsepower. A Hall carbon-fiber mast keeps weight low, where it belongs, and I liked that the aluminum boom (here the weight saved doesn't justify carbon's cost) is positioned high to maximize visibility. The boat comes about in a snap—even with a crew of one—with its self-tacking jib, and after each tack we quickly reached speed. If you desire precision sail trimming, the main’s double 4:1 controls (gross and fine-tune) will keep you busy tweaking.
A lot of thought went into the large cockpit. The seatbacks are tall, rounded at the edges, and angled back for comfort; while seated to windward I could comfortably brace my feet on the leeward seat and handle the tiller. Or you can sit outboard and steer with the tiller extension. There are no lifelines—a nice look—though each boat is built with backing for stanchions.
This boat shines off the wind. The forestay is offset from the bow stem by 18 inches, leaving room for a stainless-steel ring where you can tack a 581-square-foot furling spinnaker. The lightweight nylon kite I flew with Johnstone was a flat sail, a shape that helps the furling process go more smoothly. It gave us a generous boost in speed in 6 knots of wind and was easy to handle with one person trimming. After furling the sail, I stowed it below through a deck hatch—the only time I had to go forward of the winches.
Other details focus on ease of sailing. The control bar for the hydraulic backstay is positioned underneath and in line with the tiller, allowing you to handle the tiller with one hand while adding backstay tension with the other. "You don't lose leverage on the tiller or control of the boat while pumping the backstay," said Johnstone. "It's a safety and control issue." This space also includes a VHF and a mesh bag for small items.
You could overnight on this boat, but don’t expect creature comforts below—there's a simple head, two pilot berths, and a 15-horsepower Yanmar diesel underneath the companionway steps, and that's about it. There's a point to the boat's spartan interior—sail it, don't sleep on it. I got the message loud and clear.
Builder: J/Boats, 401-846-8410, www.jboats.com
$135,000 (base, FOB Newport, RI)
478 sq ft
15-hp Yanmar diesel