I was looking over the drawings for the new J/33 and thought to myself, "If you've seen one J Boat, you've seen them all." This profile and plan view are like old friends. The basic shape and overall approach have matured since the first J/24, but it really has not changed.

A J/33 sails upwind in a stiff breeze.

A J/33 sails upwind in a stiff breeze.

This J/33 is a little sister to the highly successful J/35. The target market for the J/33 is sailors eager for close one-design racing and forays into IMS and PHRF fleets. Strict class rules are written and intended to minimize the expense of maintaining a competitive J/33. Standard equipment for a 33 includes rod rigging, hydraulic backstay, Harken rudder bearings. It appears to me that the Johnstones are trying to build a little race boat with an extremely well-though-out list of standard items that will prevent anyone from needing to change from the one-design format, but someone always finds a way.

With a D/L ratio of 165, the J/33 is a medium light boat with enough displacement to give it a well-rounded range of effective performance. The midsection shows some deadrise, which diminishes as you go aft and accentuates going forward into a V-shaped entry. Overhangs are minimal, making the most out of sailing length for the 33 feet. Beam at 11 feet is moderate by today's standards and the stern is drawn in J/24 and J/35 style. This is a nice upwind shape giving the J Boats family a rock-solid feel on the wind with sufficient power to let you feel like you are driving the boat to weather rather than feathering the boat to weather. Draft is 6.2 feet and the fin and rudder are typical of the J Boats family. If there are any foil refinements, the folks at J Boats are not telling.

The interior could be comfortable for a small family to cruise. There is nothing fancy, just good berths and a semi-enclosed head. I suppose a dinning table is optional. Also optional is a "removable forepeak with cushions and canvas curtain."

The deck is a typical J Boats deck with minimal camber and a boxy little cabintrunk. The beauty of this cabintrunk is that it accomplishes its headroom requirements in the minimum amount of space, leaving the deck clear for optimum placement of leads, tracks and winches. The deck is not cluttered with coamings around the cockpit. The Jacuzzi cockpit, so called I suppose, because of its rounded corners, is just a footwell for the helmsman and one trimmer. This type of deck layout is wonderful to work on. If you have never sailed on a deck like this, I think you will be surprised just how comfortable it really is when you are underway. Note the footrests next to the mainsheet traveler to help keep the helmsman up to weather. There is a toe rail forward that is replaced aft by genoa track along the rail.

The two-spreader rig features slightly sweptback spreaders. "Disappearing checkstays" are standard. I presume this is accomplished with a bullet block at the chainplates and some bungee cord.

The profile of the J/33 is uncluttered and simple. Despite the apparent lack of art in this case, I do find myself liking this boat. Perhaps it has something to do with once having owned a J Boat. They perform so well that it's hard to have any negative feelings about them. They are utilitarian and bountifully reward any effort on the crew's part.

Could it be that there is a touch of shape in that house top? I'm positive I see some camber in the transom. Either the Js are subtly changing or my own appreciation of them is.

The first of the new J/33s is now racing. I think we can expect this new J Boat to be very competitive.

Boat Specifications
Displacement8,100 lbs.
Ballast3,200 lbs.
Sail Area561 sq. ft.
AuxiliaryVolvo 2002 18 hp diesel
Fuel15 gals.
Water30 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.