There was a lot of hoopla surrounding the J/100 when it first came out, so we were pleased to be able to finally jump on one in Puget Sound.
The J/100 makes no bones about what it was designed for: to be a 33-foot daysailer that can be sailed easily shorthanded, with hot performance for club racing or just to recapture the joy of sailing in the dinghy days. As the brochure says, it's the "Sunfish or Hobie of the 1960's or their J/24 of the 1980's ...reincarnated."
We headed out into Elliott Bay after a squall which left light winds and a lot of slop. The narrow boat cut through nicely, feeling very solid. Like a meter boat, it rolls over a little bit, finds a groove and goes.
The boat we were on had the Hoyt Jib Boom, where the loose footed jib was trimmed with a continues sheet. Sailing short handed, you could literally set it and forget it tacking upwind. The jib on the boom doesn't have the adjustability of a standard jib, but performs well. And, it acts as a pole off the wind for wing and wing. The jib boom, however, is removable for racing.
The main is loosefooted on a Hall Carbon Mast (optional) and aluminum boom. The luff goes up a track mounted on the mast, with two Harken cars at the head and one at the batten. Picture a vertical traveler for the idea. It hoisted very easily, with the winch only needed for final adjustment. The Harken traveler is about mid cockpit.
Speaking of that, you could hold a class reunion in the cockpit. At 9.5-feet, it really gives that open, dinghy feel to the boat, especially with tiller steering. For just daysailing you can take a lot of friends along for a ride.
The owner had selected Quantum sails for the boat; jib and main of Fusion Membrane, and Code Zero (large, light asymetrical spinnaker flown from the bow) of Dimension CZ15.
For racing the boat uses a standard spinnaker pole setup. The Code Zero was set up for roller furling so we rolled it out and rolled along. We moved nicely in very light wind, wishing for a few gusts just to spring her loose. We were doing 2 knots in no wind and slop, which is pretty good, and she accelerated well when the occasional puff came through. Others who have sailed the boat said that in about 5-6 knots of wind they were doing 6-7 knots with the Code Zero.
Normally, in this part of the review, we talk about accomodations down below. This will not take long as, basically, there's places for four people to sleep and that's about it. If you're tall, you can't sit up straight, or at least lean back without hitting your head. For keeping food and drink cold, there is a cooler. That's about it. Pretty basic, but light. On the other hand, accessiblity to most everything is right there; engine, saildrive, electronics.
With the reputation of being able to 'spin on a dime', we had to try it, and it did. The deep rudder gives a good bite and very good control. There was a Volvo 10 HP on this boat which pushed us a about 6.5 knots. Later versions are coming with a Yanmar 18.
The J/100 is a lot of fun and it's easy to see why Sailing World picked it as their 2005 Boat of the Year. It's an attractive looking, easy handling day sailer that can be set up for sailing from restaurant to restaurant or competitively buoy to buoy -- or both.
Thanks to Lance McDonough of Sail Northwest for the ride, and Tony Zecca for pulling lines.
For more information on the J/100 visit: www.jboats.com
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