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canstead

Is J getting left behind?

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So I spent today at the London boat show, which in itself was pretty uninspiring!

 

I had a look around the J88, J11s and J112e

 

The J88 is a great looking boat, it's got me written all over it concept wise.

Th J11s looked good, but too compromised in concept. It felt like it needed to be designed from scratch as a short handed boat. Even moving the jib winches backwards would have been an improvement!

J112e looked good, but again, too compromised in hull volume as a modern cruiser.

 

Each time I looked at the boats, it felt like the market had moved on. The concepts were good, but the execution seemed compromised in one way or another. It was particularly notable that they were slim, like really slim, and it feels like the world, for good or bad, had moved on.

 

I took a look at the Jeanneau 3600, which was about the only other boat there at the same market. If I think of all the novel approaches to rig, handed jibs, stay sails, halyard locks and mast rams etc, coming out of the French market, it feels like a different world to the Js.

 

Don't get me wrong, they are good boats, and the obvious order books and retained values show ther's plenty who think so, but it just left me wondering if that is looking forward enough.

 

Just saying!

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Think I counted 78 of the 139 boats registered for KWRW this year are J/Boats...I think you can look too far forward, and have a neat boat only a half dozen people buy....

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Think I counted 78 of the 139 boats registered for KWRW this year are J/Boats...I think you can look too far forward, and have a neat boat only a half dozen people buy....

 

See: C&C 30, Farr 280

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So I spent today at the London boat show, which in itself was pretty uninspiring!

 

I had a look around the J88, J11s and J112e

 

The J88 is a great looking boat, it's got me written all over it concept wise.

Th J11s looked good, but too compromised in concept. It felt like it needed to be designed from scratch as a short handed boat. Even moving the jib winches backwards would have been an improvement!

J112e looked good, but again, too compromised in hull volume as a modern cruiser.

 

Each time I looked at the boats, it felt like the market had moved on. The concepts were good, but the execution seemed compromised in one way or another. It was particularly notable that they were slim, like really slim, and it feels like the world, for good or bad, had moved on.

 

I took a look at the Jeanneau 3600, which was about the only other boat there at the same market. If I think of all the novel approaches to rig, handed jibs, stay sails, halyard locks and mast rams etc, coming out of the French market, it feels like a different world to the Js.

 

Don't get me wrong, they are good boats, and the obvious order books and retained values show ther's plenty who think so, but it just left me wondering if that is looking forward enough.

 

Just saying!

Going to the London boat show was your first mistake.

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Absolutely they own fault J11s what?

 

"Th J11s looked good, but too compromised in concept. It felt like it needed to be designed from scratch as a short handed boat. Even moving the jib winches backwards would have been an improvement!"

 

See what I mean? Trying to caught up means you're falling below.

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Think I counted 78 of the 139 boats registered for KWRW this year are J/Boats...I think you can look too far forward, and have a neat boat only a half dozen people buy....

 

See: C&C 30, Farr 280

 

most of them are J70's

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C&C 30 fleet is slowly building. They have more boats on the line than the J111

Actually more than the j88's also.

The only reason there are so many J70's is that fact that they are inexpensive and no one wants to race J 24's anymore lol.

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The J11S will be sold in numbers based on winning races and nothing else. If the popularity of one and two person racing increases in Europe we will see an opportunity for more sales as long as the boat is a winner.

 

However, In Europe there are many more choices than in North America. Not just when it comes to boats but down to parts. In North America I do not see JBoats having a difficult time selling more boats. There is very little competition. I could see interior cosmetic modifications to the J/112 to increase sales but that is about it for the models mentioned.

 

Perhaps a return to cruising boats will happen. I agree with the OP that there might become an issue in Europe in the near future based on competition and how healthy the economies of various countries become. The JBoats business model allows for downturns so even if Europe ends as a profit stream I would think that JBoats would survive.

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J Boats seems to always go their own way with a developed core of customers who will buy the boats. The J105 was out there when virtually nobody built a 35' boat with little headroom and interior, and going with the sprit and assym. It took a while but then the whole industry followed until others were building more radical boats.

 

Maybe another transition is happening again, just have to see what happens.

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J seems to be pushing the mature performance cruiser with it's newer boats. The new crop of wide stern twin wheel boats have some advantages, but the added wetted surface would be a downside in lighter air where many of us sail. I also wonder what happens when they get loaded up with gear for a short cruise. The super effecient vertical T keels catch kelp and twin rudders add complexity to the system. I also think the interiors of some of these boats (including some of the Js) look too much like the inside of my fridge.

 

There is nothing wrong with boats like the Sunfast pushing the envelope, they look like lots of fun. The downside is similar to owning a high performance small convertable, once you start needing a more well rounded vehicle the limitations are a problem.

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I agree with some points Fatima. Although I like to think that if j boats were cars then they would be Porsches. The concept of the 911 hasn't changed since the beetle (rear engined, silly idea) but they've made the flawed concept and refined it over many years to make it very effective. Although one day the 911 may reach it's limit. I think the same is true with J, they've continued to refine their low free board, moderate sail plan, narrow boat, light weight approach to boats but ultimately I think they're reaching the limits of their concept.

 

For the majority of racing we get in the UK the narrow designs are still proving successful. I'm a massive fan of j boats under 30ft. Also don't forget when it comes to mast Rams, stay sails and halyard locks all those cost extra money and you'd be hard pushed to find a boat they come as standard.

 

So yeah I think they're old in concept but not yet outdated. For the record the 11s is an entirely French idea. Also they take onboard comments such as the winch placement so expect to see them moved back in future boats. My perfect J boat would be an 11s with carbon rig and kitted up to the max for offshore and inshore racing

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I like the 911 analogy,

 

I also think there is an aspect of emporer's new clothes with wide boats, and to a certain extent that's a red herring. And I don't think I'm saying that J need to ditch what is obviously a successful concept. I've just spent three months taking a J130 around the Coral Sea, and adored it, it still felt relevant.

 

The J92 and J105 are an interesting point. They took the stripped out sprit boat concept and proved you could win. Here was a certain amount of fresh thought.

 

When I think of it, I'm seeing fresh thought in the market, around sail handling, ergonomics, rig, interior layout, systems. But im not seeing that thought in Js.

 

Mind you, I did like rigging a J88 with an electric drive, id ditch the god awful self tacking jib though!

 

Anyway, thanks for discussing

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Everything is relative.

 

On SA and on blogs we (mostly as crew) love to rave about the latest boat in different niches. How about the C&C 30? The Farr 280? The FarEast 28R? Or the latest Pogo. JPK or SunFast aimed at shorthanded racing? Or new categories like Seascape and others try to define. So many sweets boats - each with it's own pros (and cons).

 

But when we, as owners, actually have to make the decision and put money on the table, other factors become important.

 

Looking at the latest generation of J/boats, the J/70, J/88, and J/111 have done well in delivering a sporty boat without being all-out racers. With the J/111 I comfortably beat most 40-footers, handily do 20+ knots downwind with 4 on board and then put on the Webasto and make dinner below. The "speedster" or Porche analogy works pretty well.

 

To take this concept into cruiser/racer territory with the J/112 is a natural move.

 

Looking at the success of the J/109, now a 15 year old design, there's still active one-design fleets and the boat is still considered extremely good value for money if you want a 35-footer that's fun to sail. I would still chose my former J/109 over many newer designs I've sailed. The J/105 is still considered one of the worlds best shorthanded boats (battling it out with brand new JPKs) and have active fleets after 25 years. I have no doubt that the many of today's models will be considered successful in 20 years. Not all. But some.

 

Racing my J/111 both solo, double-handed and with full crew I would appreciate halyard locks, fixed sprit, etc, etc. But I appreciate the simplicity and no-nonsens approach of J/boats even more!

 

I have a friend who got a Sun Fast 3600 (we both race in Scandinavia and took our boats back and forth to the UK this summer to do the Fastnet). As I could take the standard spec J/111 offshore, he had to spend both time and money getting his boat right. No boat is perfect.

 

Naturally I would like to be on his boat when it's 24 knots @ TWA 110. Or on the Bolt 37 when the same breeze moves aft. But all in all I think the J/111 ability to fire up in the light stuff in combination to crazy downwind runs make it a more rewarding boat throughout the season.

 

To summarize, I think J/boats understand their market very well. Just as JPK or Pogo. All of them have clear long-term philosophies that make them unique in ways that might not be apparent by comparing features. But in 15 or 25 years we'll look back at the J/88 or JPK 10.10 and appreciate their different qualities.

 

Just as we do with a 911 and a Mustang.

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