Every once in awhile a boat comes along that hits the high notes perfectly, a moment of sweet sound in the raucous symphony we call one design sailing. This time, it’s the J/70 that is showing off its perfect pitch.
J/Boats has hit many such high notes before: consider the worldwide lasting appeal of the J/24, J/22, J/105, and J/80—never mind all the other numbers they’ve made into memorable models since 1977. But the J/70, which sang its first tune on Narragansett Bay in a chilly spring 2012 float test, has surpassed even the high expectations set by past J/history.
Only a few months after the first two boats appeared, 100 boats were on order. Next came the news that the J/70 would have its first Midwinter Championship in January 2013 at Quantum Key West Race Week.
And then the New York Yacht Club announced that J/70s would be used as part of their qualifying regatta for the Invitational Cup. Sure enough, in September 2012, only a few months after the initial sea trials, twelve J/70s lined up in Narragansett Bay, an impressive display of hitting the right notes on building, sales, marketing, and planning. (Might as well throw in planing, too.)
Since then, J/70 fleets have quickly formed. Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis held a regatta in November, the Fall Brawl, with twenty-one boats on the line. Key West 2013 already has 36 entries, more than any of the other more established one design classes. According to Jeff Johnstone, President of J/Boats, "there are about 125 boats built, and another 175-plus on order between North American and European builders."
And that was before the trailerable speedster won Sailing World’s 2013 Boat of the Year award.
All of these high notes are signs that this three person, ramp-launchable boat is as easy to own and manage as it is fun to sail. The trick will be to keep the class growing at a steady rate, which means stable rules that work for a wide range of sailors and sailing abilities.
J/Boats has an excellent track record of class building. And since this design fills a different niche from their previous models, hopefully the J/70’s perfect pitch will only increase the depth and tone of our one design symphony.
For more info, visit J/Boats.