The J44wk was doing well in the NP to Berm. race, I think scoring 2nd or 3rd boat for boat. Not dead upwind, but a close fetch. Maybe check the boat name, check their rating, and see how their results look.
I 0wned a shoal keel 44 for several years and used it in North West mainly for cruising. The phrf hc was 36-it was a good all around boat . My feeling is that in a windward-downwind race it would not be first choice over deep keel but in long distance if not all tight to weather may do well. I feel that the boat is great for a family that likes to cruise fast in comfort with occasional raceing. There is a great deep keel boat for sale in seattle one of the last 44s made the price is a little steep but the boat is in great shape with much upgrading and the 46 interior.
Anyone else care to comment on the j44? Specifically compared to the 120 and/or the 109. Comparing the three, I would expect the 44 to need more breeze, maybe be a bit stiffer, but also need a lot more crew or sail handling? Probably more comfortable in a seaway?
I can't speak to the comparison between WK vs. std keel. But 44's have more than earned their keep on Long Island Sound with devout, long term racing/cruising owners. I captained one home from Bermuda to NY a few years ago and found it to be a safe offshore boat in pitch black, surfing down seas up to her second spreaders and 30-knot winds from astern. Dare I say, there is no comparison to a J109 or 120 which at least at my club, have a dismal track record for offshore 'comfort and safety at sea'.
i've been offshore on both the 120 and the 44 - newport-bermuda in both, as well as some other races.
the 44 is a solid offshore boat - it has a "big-boat" feel, and goes upwind like a train, even in pretty big breeze. as far as i know, there are no serious build issues with this model.
the 120 is small for a 40ft boat, and feels small offshore, compared to other 40fters. still, i think it is a great design for offshore sailing - as long as you don't load it up too much with crew and gear.
but i have been a bit concerned about the keel issues on the 120. i tried to learn more about these issues a few years ago, when i was thinking of buying one, but was never really able to nail down the specifics of _exactly_ what was going wrong, and whether it was really fixable. i was only able to learn that a few boats had problems that might be described as the sump tearing away from the hull in "normal" use, but was never really able to confirm that this was what was going on. i know that the early boats had sump problems which the builder took care of, but i was never able to learn whether newer 120's built after the sump build/design was changed had also experienced sump problems.
in the J133 thread i asked whether the 133 has a sump like the 120, and whether the 133 has any keel issues, but no one has answered. if anyone reading this knows, please post a response in that thread.