Skip to main content

J/88

Although the new J/88 has very similar lines to the J/111 and J/70 that precede it, the boat still has a personality that is distinctly its own.  For example, whereas the J/111 is almost in “big boat” range with its 9,300lb displacement, 36ft 6in LOA and 663ft2 of sail area, the J/88 is refreshingly nimble with its 4,990lb displacement, 439ft2 of sail area and a LOA of just over 29ft.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Although the new J/88 has very similar lines to the J/111 and J/70 that precede it, the boat still has a personality that is distinctly its own.

For example, whereas the J/111 is almost in “big boat” range with its 9,300lb displacement, 36ft 6in LOA and 663ft2 of sail area, the J/88 is refreshingly nimble with its 4,990lb displacement, 439ft2 of sail area and a LOA of just over 29ft.

Similarly, while the 22ft 9in J/70 is almost dinghy-like, with its lifting keel and minimal cuddy cabin, the J/88 feels dramatically more substantial, with 6ft 4in settees in the saloon, a fixed head, an inboard 14hp auxiliary, and a kind of “micro nav station.”

The result—like the J/29 that preceded it—is a boat that is fun and versatile, a seaworthy little sloop in which you can muscle your way through a choppy seaway or take the kids out for a sunny daysail.

During our test sail we had a fluky 11-knot easterly under cloudless skies out on Narragansett Bay. J/Boats’s Stuart Johnstone apologized that the bottom hadn’t been scrubbed in a couple of weeks. But the boat still did just fine, easily hitting 5-plus knots sailing at apparent wind angles in the high 30s and 7-plus knots on a reach.

Equally impressive was the way the boat handled, both when sailing a course and going through maneuvers. The transom-hung rudder is deep and powerful, providing so much control you have to be a bit careful—almost like in a dinghy. I suspect the boat will also prove forgiving, yet powerful in a blow.

The rig provides plenty of horsepower for driving the slippery hull in light air, but is not so big that you can’t muscle it under control when things get hairy. The A-sail, while enormous in relation to the boat, can still be handled by mere mortals.

As for the cockpit and deck layouts, these are vintage J/boats, complete with in-hauler rings on the cabintrunk to create close sheeting angles for the headsail, a Harken belowdeck jib furler and a vang that sheets to both port and starboard. The mainsail sheets to a traveller on the cockpit sole and includes both gross and fine tuning for optimal control in a wide range of wind velocities. According to Johnstone, the cockpit itself is essentially the same as that of the J/111 (recognized in SAIL’s 2011 Best Boats), only about a foot shorter. See the video of the J/88 undersail here.

The build quality and overall look of the J/88 are spare, but solid. The hull and deck are both cored for lightness and rigidity, and the layup appears to be neat and tidy, even in those nooks and crannies where it doesn’t have to be. The carbon mast is deck-stepped for easy handling when trailering; the retractable sprit is also carbon fiber. All in all, it’s another sweet-sailing speedster that does justice to its predecessors.

Related

01-LEAD-DSC_1255

BoatWorks: The Rig and the Crane-Barge

During the three months my little ship lay in Belfast, Maine, I had three friends. The first was a schooner bum I’d met sailing in Florida who now worked for the shipyard next door to where I had just bought my boat, Teal, a 1963 Tripp 29, sight unseen. He would hook me up with ...read more

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more