What’s new in the J/88 program?: Year two of the J/88 demo program is in the books. This year was a lot of fun because we had 4 other J/88’s to race against on Lake Ontario. We have the biggest fleet in the country with 5 boats, not bad for a smaller market! The 88s still raced PHRF, so it was a balance of trying to beat one another but also the rest of PHRF 1 on corrected time. This year, we were given a 6 second “protect the fleet” rating, so what was going to be an 87 rating, brought us down to an 81. This was actually OK, because it allowed us to see how the boat stacked up with a tougher rating against those in the area like the Beneteau 36.7 (rates 78 here), J/109 (rates 80), Beneteau 10R (92), Nelson Marek Custom 30 (93), and a J/105 (92). Of course there are many factors that weigh into PHRF besides the boat itself, like wind speed, wave conditions, crew ability, sail inventory, clean bottom, and on and on. Overall the boat performed very well and all of our owners were pleased with how easy it was to handle and sail, forgiving on the crew, and just plain fun!
Our demo, hull #27, was one of the last boats out of the water. It is now without a rig and will reside inside our Youngstown heated showroom for the winter.
My thoughts on the J88, by Don Finkle: I admit to being spoiled. For over 40 years I have always been able to sail the newest models when they come along, and there have been many. Each new boat represented the state of the art in production boats at the time. They varied from just OK to good to really good. The J88 falls into the last category in my mind. With a season and a half of sailing the J88 under our belts I can say that with confidence.
When sizing up a new boat it is important to put the design goal in perspective. In the case of Jboats any new model must perform well and be easily handled, with broad-enough appeal to be commercially viable and to sell in numbers sufficient to offer the promise of one design racing. Boats that are too exotic in construction or too extreme in any way do not fit the pattern which has proven so successful over time. Sometimes we hear the knock that other boats are faster, and that is true. There is room in the sport for higher-performance boats but they will always be limited in number. Examples of new similar sized boats that were designed for that top end speed-wise would be the C&C 30 and Farr 280, and before them the Mumm/Farr 30. They are each cool boats in their own right but are aimed at the top of the performance curve where fewer sailors reside.
The Jboats mantra is to offer a level of performance that is fun and exciting but also not intimidating or limiting. We find that the J88 is just that, fast and fun but not over the edge. It is hard to complain about the speed of the 88 when you realize that at 29 feet we are routinely sailing with boats 5-10 feet longer and often beating them boat-for-boat. At the same time the 88 offers a usable interior with berths, a marine head, modest storage and a comfortable cockpit for daysailing too. Add in the powerful diesel saildrive and you have a boat that can do limited cruising and overnight racing. These factors were all part of the plan when the J88 was conceived, it had to meet a more varied usage profile. We think the Johnstones nailed it.
Race results are not the best way of judging the potential of a boat because so many factors enter into it beyond the capability of the boat itself. But at this point we are very comfortable saying that the J88 is a step ahead of most other boats of its size that have gone before, as it should be. What has surprised us most has been the excellent light air performance which we did not anticipate given the lack of an overlapping headsail. The other aspect that exceeded our expectations is the pointing ability upwind when the in-haulers are employed, it is like riding up an elevator. The keel really seems to work.
The sail inventory that seems to work best includes a main, two headsails and two spinnakers. The light-medium jib is 105%, and the heavy jib is 100% but flatter. The cross-over point between the two jibs is in the mid-teens, depending upon sea state. The heavy jib can be carried down to as low as 12 knots and the Lt/Med up to 18, so there is a fairly large spread where you can get away with either. The full size A2 spinnaker is 95 square meters, and the heavy/reaching A3 kite is about 80 SM. Our main has one reef point but if memory serves we have yet to use it. Jib battens can be either vertical or roller, either style works with the standard Harken below-deck furler.
Sailing the J/88: We would normally sail with 5 or 6 aboard, but could take more if they showed up due to the large cockpit and clean deck. We hate to leave anyone at the dock but for most conditions five people is probably a good number. The main controls are set up for the helm to trim the main or for a dedicated main trimmer. Coarse and fine sheet tackles, traveler and backstay are close together. If you are using a main trimmer the easy mode is to move the fine tune block on top of the coarse tune block with both in front of the traveler. For short-handed sailing the driver can sit aft, straddling or in front of the traveler, any of those positions work. Tacking the small headsail is easy and one person can release and then trim in on the other side…so long as the driver makes a reasonable-speed tack!
We sail with many different people on our boat. We spend more time exposing people to the fun of J88 sailing, and often their first exposure to asymmetric spinnaker sailing, as opposed to fine-tuning our trim. For sure we can get more speed out of the boat over time as we focus more, and we noted that as the season wore on we kept going better and better. There is a lot you can do with the jib, especially with the adjustable cars and in-haulers. The 88 really tracks well upwind when in the groove. When dialed-in, which is not hard, the boat has a very balanced and light helm.
Before we changed our backstay length (see below) we were probably sailing with a poorly-tuned rig much of the time. We often got to the boat from work with hardly any time to prep for the race so the rig was often too tight or too loose. It did not seem to bother the boat much but for sure our performance would have been even better if we tuned for the conditions. Because we seemed to be going well we also were a bit lazy about the rig. Finally, as the boat comes the shroud turnbuckles are not as easy to adjust as they should be but we now have a good solution for that (see below). Looking back on the season we were probably too tight more often than not.
We found that the big cockpit tended to attract people who ended up sitting further aft than they should be for best performance. When we moved people forward it always seemed to make us go faster. The exception is downwind in a breeze where you want to slide people aft. It is easy to move around the J88 so there is no problem placing weight where it should be. Of course for daysailing that big cockpit is awesome and you can fit a pile of folks aboard and they will have a comfortable place to sit. Tim reminded me of the time we had the young grandchildren aboard this summer and they had a ball, even swimming off the back, easy with the open transom. The 88 works for daysailing, course racing, distance racing or limited cruising. The jib furler is convenient as is the Harken luff track on the mast for the mainsail cars. The boat seems to handle a wide range of wind velocities very well, the sign of a good design.
Hull 11 (Rick Lohr) and Hull 28 (Joe O’brien) winning the start on a Wednesday night race.
A Warm Welcome to our latest J/88 Owners: Rob and Sandy Butler recently took delivery of hull #56 which RCR’s Jim & Brian commissioned in Naples, Florida. They are from Collingwood, Ontario but winter down south. Also new to the fleet is long time customer from Rochester, Bob Kreilick. Bob will be sailing hull #62 this spring. We just sold Bob’s J/111 which he liked very much, but decided on something a little smaller that still had the performance he so enjoys. We have a hull slot reserved for early April so you can be next to join the fun.
Toronto Boat Show: We are lending our hull #27 to Pat Sturgeon Yachts, the dealer for the greater Toronto area so that there can be a J88 on display at the show. It will bring good exposure of the boat on the north shore and hopefully we can build out our Lake Ontario fleet even further. Pat has recently sold an 88 to a Toronto couple.
Upgrades/Changes/Additions: One of the beauties of the J88 is that it is race-ready out of the box. Jboats, Hall Spars & Rigging, Harken and the builder CCF have done a fine job of putting together a boat that is properly set up to start with. In fact the boat is a joy to crew on, the gear is all there and it works. That said, we racing sailors like to tinker with our boats, it is fun to add something here and there so long as it does not break the bank. Here are a few things that we have done with our own 88s (we started with hull #2 and have been sailing #27 after we sold #2):
Canvas Package, by our friends at Custom Covers & Canvas in Niagara Falls:
Bag for storage of plexi weatherboard
Bag for stowage of anchor and rode
Mesh bag hanging in port side cockpit locker for storage of small items
Bag for forward bin opposite head (we store PFDs in it)
Padded lifeline covers
Telescoping/folding SS Swim ladder: Lightweight, takes up no room at aft end of cockpit, and folds up against the transom lifelines
Backstay: As the boat came we felt there was not enough adjustment despite the powerful cascading backstay tackle. We decided to get a new upper backstay leg that was 30” shorter than standard. Hall Rigging, who makes the standard running and standing rigging for the J88, made up a new upper leg plus longer strops for the cascade. The end result is we now have more total throw from light to heavy air, and lo and behold our system is now the standard on all current 88s!
Raptor Deck We have this soft deck on our J70 and we also ordered it for our stock C&C 30. Several of our customers have already requested this for their J/88’s. We are dealers for Raptor Deck and just worked with them to create a template for the J/88. They are available in the Standard, Premium, and Teakster. Check out this E-Brochure here: Raptor Look Book
Turnbuckle Ratcheting Tools: No boat is perfect and one of our few complaints on the boat is that it is challenging to put turns on and off the rig. The placement of the shrouds and the stanchion doesn’t make it very easy to use the old fashioned wrench and screw driver method. No longer an issue now thanks to this ratchet tool design shown below. Marty Kullman sent these along that he had made for Rob Butler’s boat and apparently they work very well.
Spinnaker Take-Down System: You are going to love this idea taken from the Melges 32 playbook. A patch is placed on the belly of the spinnaker with a retrieving line run through the hatch back to a couple blocks down below. The line can be pulled from the companionway “pit” position. The tack and halyard are blown and the retrieval line is pulled in sucking the chute down through the hatch. As you can see, the carbon fiber roller allows the spinnaker to suck through the hatch freely, without any chance of catching on anything and tearing. It should make it a lot easier for the leeward mark takedowns with that big spinnaker. It does not absolve of all foredeck work but it is certainly a big help. See below from Marty Kullman of Quantum Sails on this added option.
Quantum Sails J88 Spinnaker Take-Down System, by Marty Kullman: The J/88 can be equipped with a Spinnaker retrieval system to make it easier to get the spinnaker into the boat on a dowse and avoid shrimping. Many other types of boats use these system to make it easier, safer, and faster to get the chute down.
• Melges 32
• McConaghy 38
All that is needed is:
• Under hatch roller
• 2 turning blocks
• Spinnaker patch
• Life Line cover
Custom J88 Carbon Fiber Roller: Roller is screwed through the deck under the hatch lid keeping the deck clean and can be removed later if not needed for cursing. Roller is high giving plenty of room to still get around in the V-Berth area.
• Special Machined delron roller caps
• Pre-formed aluminum mounting brackets
• Pre-drilled mounting holes with bolts
Retrieval Line System Included: The retrieval line is attached to the stern on the starboard
side at the back stanchion base under the deck and then to the base of the mast post.
• (2) Harken Carbo Blocks
• Stern stainless pad eye
• Dyneema takedown line
Lifeline covers Included: On the port top life line rollers need to be installed to help when the spin is resting on the life line during the dowse. PVC ridged tubing cut to length. Fits over existing Lifeline
Spinnaker take down Patch:
• Takedown patches will need to be added to your spinnakers.
• Can Ship to a Quantum loft for installation or Pre order for installation in Key West for Key West Race Week.
• Cost $150 and you can get a discount with purchase of the Takedown system
Kit Cost is $980*:
• Custom J88 Carbon Fiber Roller
• Special Machined delron roller caps
• Pre-formed aluminum mounting brackets With
• PVC ridged tubing Life Line covers cut to length
• Harken Carbo Turning blocks
• Dyneema take down line
*Spinnaker Takedown Patch Separate
Order yours soon for Key West Race Week. Limited number available. Call today for installation and training at Key West Race Week
Key West Race Week 2015: 7 boats registered so far. Rick Lohr in Hull 11 and Joe & Jeff Pawlowski with hull 2, both from Youngstown YC and signed up. We just finished commissioning hull 56 for long time customer Rob Butler, who most recently came from the J/70 and Melges 20 campaigns. KWRW on Yachtscoring
Class Rules coming soon: A first draft of the rules have been sent out to some dealers and with plenty of feedback still needed, they are not ready for publication. We will be sure to get those out to owners when they are available. Because Key West is coming up very quickly, they will not have rules in place for Sails or Crew Weight, just go and have fun with the program you’ve had all summer!
North Sails Tuning Guide: Download the full tuning guide packet on the North Sails website: http://www.na.northsails.com/
Boat-of-the-Year Award: Sailing World named the J/88 as their best new One-Design as part of their 2014 Boat-of-the-Year Awards. There was high praise from the judges for the J/88’s design, sailing qualities and construction. Here’s a link to the full Sailing World report with photos. Congratulations to the build team at CCF Composites for a great job and to the whole J network for supporting the launch of the J/88. Demand continues to build globally, and tooling is just shipping to France so that J Composites can begin producing J/88s for the European market this spring. The full story here: 2014 Sailing World Boat of the Year
J/88 is on the cover of latest Sailing World magazine, debuting SW’s new and improved format.
J/88 Named Best Performance Boat under 40’ by Yachts & Yachting magazine!
J/88 Sailing & Walk-Through Video by “The Hull Story”: A very good video explanation of the new J/88 by Jeff Johnstone, president of Jboats: The Hull Story
Sail magazine review of the J/88:Sail Magazine Boat Review
J88 Facebook Page Calling all owners and crew, please start posting about your boats. What you are doing with them, photos from your racing or day sailing. The more the better to build a following of the page.
J/88 Hull #27 (RCR’s demonstrator)
J/88 open, clean cockpit layout
Two of the finest boat builders in USA have recently launched new offerings in the 30-foot range. Both the C&C 30 One Design and the J/88 have been reviewed by frequent Scuttlebutt contributor Don Finkle of RCR Yachts, who has provided a thorough and fair assessment of these similar yet different boats. For the sake of full disclosure, RCR Yachts represents both brands, but their comments and opinions are strictly their own, and are no way influenced by the owners and builders of the boats. Enjoy…
C&C 30 vs J/88: There are obvious similarities between these two new boats but also some key differences. In most cases a sailor will begin by looking at both and then rather quickly decide that one is a better fit for them than the other. One of our tasks here is to help in that process.
Similarities: Both are modern designs geared to performance and close in length, the C&C being 30’ LOA and the J/88 29’. They both have an inboard diesel saildrive with folding prop. Each has a Hall spars twin spreader carbon mast and aluminum boom, and Hall standing and running rigging packages. Each is built with modern resin infusion cored construction in the hull and deck. The base prices of both boats are almost exactly the same. Both have all the ballast in the keel bulb. They are each built in RI in plants less than 10 miles apart by experienced sailboat builders. Both have minimum overlap headsails and asymmetric spinnakers set on sprits.
Other similarities include LED lighting, long clean cockpits with open transoms, two settee berths with cushions and the option for two more berths (V berth in the J, quarterberths in the C&C), standard race hardware and spinnaker rigging including vang, Cunningham, adjustable backstay(s), etc. Due to similar size and pricing there will naturally be some comparison shopping. Finally both are sold through dealer networks which broaden distribution and create the option for taking trades, provides local servicing and demo sailing availability, etc.
Differences: It does not take too long before one realizes that despite the many areas where the two designs are similar, there are also plenty of differences. The result is that the two boats are aimed at somewhat different markets. While both are performance boats that will be used a lot for racing, the C&C is decidedly more “racy” and the J has much more interior and seats in the cockpit. We will go out on a limb and state that the age of the typical C&C 30 buyer will probably be younger than the bulk of the J/88 buyers.
Here are some areas of contrast:
Rudder: C&C is inboard, J is outboard, but each is easily removed.
Sprit: Both carbon by Hall. C&C has a tapered sprit that is fixed while sailing but is easily removable at the dock. The J/88 has the typical retractable sprit common on other J models.
Keel: C&C has a carbon fiber fin with a T-bulb made of lead, finished in white epoxy paint. The J/88 keel has a J-shaped fiberglass fin around a stainless steel backbone with all the lead in bulb. It is finished in smooth white gelcoat. The J/88 keel is fixed, the C&C partially retracts to reduce height for trailing.
Design: Marks Mills did the C&C and Al & Rod Johnstone drew the J/88.
Dimensions: The C&C is a bit longer, a bit wider, a bit longer on the waterline and has a foot more draft.
Weight: The C&C is 1,100 pounds lighter with almost the same ballast as the J/88.
Sail area: is greater on the C&C with all three sails being larger.
Engine: The C&C has a 12 HP Volvo, the J a 14HP Yanmar, both saildrives with folding props.
Tiller: Carbon fiber on the C&C and Molded Fiberglass on the J, both have extensions.
Core: The C&C uses foam core in hull and deck, the J balsa in the hull and foam in the deck.
Mast Step: Keel step on the C&C adjusted by turnbuckle, fixed tabernacle on the deck for the J.
Forestay: C&C has Dyneema forestay for hanked on jib, J/88 has a below deck Harken furler.
Backstay: Both Dyneema; C&C has twin 2:1 backstays led to winches aft. J/88 has single with cascading double-ended tackle.
Head: the C&C has a small self-contained unit, with the option for a head with holding tank. The J/88 has a standard marine head with holding tank.
Winches: C&C has 2 for sheets, 2 for backstays; J/88 has 2 cabintop and 2 sheet winches in cockpit.
Jib leads: C&C has all-axis lead adjustment led under deck, J/88 has adjustable Harken tracks.
Vang: 16:1 Spectra on the C&C, Hall rigid Quick Vang on the J.
Forward hatch: Offset round on the C&C, centerline square on the J.
Main Companionway hatch: C&C’s is offset, centerline on the J.
Sink: none on the C&C, standard on the J.
Cooler: none on the C&C, standard on the J.
Deck: The C&C has a flush deck with no coachroof or side ports but one aft facing port into the cockpit. The J has a cabintop with two fixed side ports and optional aft ports into the cockpit.
Interior: Here is where the boats differ considerably. The C&C is more Spartan and open from front to back. It has decidedly less headroom. The forward area is open but there is a lot of area aft on either side and plenty of space for the optional quarterberths. The head is a very small self-contained plastic unit that pumps out through the deck. Leave your modesty at the dock. The J has a more conventional interior with headroom to walk bent over and a sizable bulkhead between the head and the main cabin plus a curtain so there is some basic privacy. The V berth is an option that is almost always ordered. There is storage behind the main cabin backrests, some cubbies and shelves, a mini chart table to starboard and sink area to port. Under the cockpit there is plenty of storage with access through one seat locker. You could cruise the J if you are realistic about the limitations of space in a 4,900 lb 29 foot performance boat where weight is a consideration. The berths are plenty large and it is not claustrophobic below.
Colors: both have standard white hulls with choice of waterline colors and optional 2 tone decks. Each also offers the option of black powder-coating on the standard rails and stanchions (really sharp). Hull colors other than white are only available by painting after construction. Spars are black.
Well? Both boats will appeal primarily to racers but can certainly be daysailed and slept on overnight. The C&C is clearly more of a Grand Prix hotrod but the J is no slouch. The J is better suited if you plan to spend any time below. Both are capable of overnight races, unlike some other boats that are really inshore day-racers. The quality of both is excellent in our opinion, the C&C being more high-tech, the J having more amenities, cockpit seats, and storage. We have been sailing the J/88 and really enjoying it and the owners love their boats. We have yet to sail the C&C and can’t wait; the initial reports from very good sailors have been glowing.
C&C 30 Build Observations:
Since I have not sailed the boat yet we can only comment on what we have seen during construction. I was able to follow the build on several trips to the factory in RI. This allowed me to see the construction process from the very beginning when it was just some lines on paper to the almost-finished boat that was a couple of days from being launched. It also gave me the opportunity to speak to the guys building this rocket so they could explain what they were doing and why. The one feeling I can say has stayed with me right from the beginning is the obvious quality and attention to detail that these guys have put into the C&C 30 One Design. It is really, really well made and finished.
The factory where the NEW C&Cs are being built is the one where thousands of Jboats, Alerions, True Norths, and various other boats were built over these many years. The depth of talent and experience in that building is considerable and is rarely found elsewhere. The new owners of US Watercraft have opened their pocketbooks to bring in some truly skilled engineers, boatbuilders, architects and supervision to add to the team already in place. Despite all the other projects underway there they have put forth what is clearly a labor of love with the C&C 30. Dealers and builders are alike in that we make our money selling cruising boats but we get our kicks out of building and selling race boats. The guys at USW clearly enjoyed creating the C&C 30.
When we talk about the obvious quality of construction of the C&C 30 we are not speaking of gloss varnished hand crafted interior joinery, although USW is very capable of that in their other products. Instead they take great care during the construction of the hull and deck so that the parts are at minimum weight and maximum consistency. Everything they put into hull #1 was weighed to make sure they are hitting their numbers. This is a high performance boat so what is there suits that purpose and there is nothing that is not needed. Being near the yachting Mecca of Newport has the added benefit of a wealth of world-class sailing talent who happen to be friends of the USW folks. These rock stars have been all over the C&C 30 providing invaluable input on the deck layout, hardware and rigging placement, etc. So the boat is not only very carefully and skillfully made, it is also set up with the advice of the best brains in the game today. The same people sailing and tweaking TP52s and Volvo 70s have provided counsel on how to set up the C&C 30 for maximum sailing efficiency. This relates to the way the sails are trimmed, crew ergonomics, reduction in unnecessary weight and complexity, and so forth.
When you are building an all-new boat as opposed to an update of an older one you are not constrained by the limitations of the prior design or tooling. Since the C&C 30 is a clean-sheet design being mother-henned by guys that know a ton about building race boats (i.e. Farr 30s and 40s, etc), they can do a lot of cool things. I noted for instance that under the angle brace feet of the lifeline stanchions they have round carbon pads that not only look awesome but spread the load. The gloss-finished carbon tiller is a work of art, with the new colored C&C logo molded in. The jib sheet adjusters are led under deck which further reduces clutter on a really clean deck. There is an angled molded FRP pedestal on the cockpit sole where all the mainsail control lines are conveniently located for the main trimmer. The sprit is a round tapered carbon spar that slides into a centerline socket at the stem. Once in place it is secured by a Spectra line that is cleated inside the hull. For docking or transport it can be easily slid back out.
The foils are made right at USW, the keel is a carbon fin with a lead T-bulb and the rudder made of E glass with variable density foam and Vinylester resin. The keel box inside the hull is very solidly made with carefully machined synthetic bearings (I forget the name the engineer had for them) that give the keel a nice tight fit, no rattling around. The keel is designed to be raised for transport to reduce the air draft of the boat on the trailer. There is an inspection port in the deck over the keel for a single point lift through the deck. The keel does not come through the deck. The rudder may be left in during transport or easily removed and stowed inside the boat.
The spars and standing and running rigging are made nearby at Hall Spars and rigging, and again the close proximity to the USW plant makes it easy for exchange of information during the prototype process. It is much easier for those designing and manufacturing components to be able to see the boat in person, sail on it, and meet face to face regularly with the boatbuilders and engineers. And all of this is built in the USA!
J/88 Build Observations:
We had been asking Jboats for a new model in the 28-30 foot range for a number of years. The 33 foot J/100 was an excellent boat for us and for our customers, but it was a bit larger than what we needed and the price crept up. Further, it was never intended as a racing boat despite the fact that all of our customers (and ourselves) raced our 100s. We asked for a new model that was a bit smaller yet faster for its size, being confident that it would be a hit. The Johnstones listened and so the 29’ J/88 was born in 2013. Because we were such vocal proponents we were promised and received hull #2 late last July. This gave us an opportunity to sail the boat and take orders before most other dealers, with the result that we now have five J/88s sailing here on the Lower Niagara River.
This is supposed to be about the build of the boat so let’s start with who builds it and where. CCF is located in Bristol, RI, in close proximity to a number of other marine industries including Hall Spars. The plant is modern and clean and the owner and his loyal workforce will never be seen standing around. They currently build various Jboats models including the 70, 88, 95 and 111, along with others including their own line of North Coast power boats. When we began to sell J/70s like hotcakes (we are up to about 30 boats sold here so far at RCR) I admit I was a bit nervous because when you are selling that many boats you worry about the potential warranty and service obligations. However, the boats we have gotten from CCF so far have been close to trouble-free, including all those 70s and several 111s. The CCF folks produce boats of consistent quality and their on-time completion record is excellent. They don’t offer many options and they don’t get into fancy woodwork, they specialize in fiberglass lamination and resin infusion. We can honestly say that we have been impressed with the boats they have shipped to us and they are super to work with.
CCF uses fiberglass materials that are pre-cut in the form of kits when they arrive, so each hull or deck gets exactly the same material for use in lay-up. The hulls and decks are infused which results in high glass to resin ratios and a high-quality and stronger, light weight part. The gelcoat finish on the boats we have gotten from them is also consistently good without the cracks and chips we see on many other boats. Only a couple of tiny air voids on all the boats so far.
Spars for the J/88s are made around the corner at Hall Spars and Rigging. This includes a black-painted double swept-spreader carbon mast and aluminum boom. The sprit is carbon and retracts into the hull as on most new Jboat models of the last 20+ years. Standing rigging is by Hall, as is the low stretch running rigging package which is extensive and all color-coded. Standard rigging includes: two spinnaker sheets, three halyards, tack line, pole control line, jib sheets, in-haulers, adjustable jib cars, cascading backstay trimmed P&S, traveler controlled P&S, coarse and fine mainsheet tackles, Cunningham, internal outhaul, reef line, jib furling line, and probably something else I have missed. A Harken below-deck jib furler is standard as is a Hall Quick Vang. The masthead crane is longer to accommodate the square head mainsail.
The rudder is outboard transom-hung and very deep for lots of control. The tiller is molded fiberglass and a telescoping Spinlock extension is standard. There is zero external teak to take care of! The keel is built around a stainless steel fabricated backbone with all the lead ballast molded around the bottom. This puts the entire lead casting inside the bulb for maximum leverage. The keel itself is made from two molded fiberglass skins, much the same as rudders are built, with the backbone and lead inside. So the outside of the keel is finished in smooth white gelcoat which will reduce maintenance. The bulb is swept aft so this is known as a J shaped keel, not a T keel, so there is no part of the bulb protruding forward of the vertical leading edge.
One of the design concepts behind the J/88 was that it should be practical for a variety of uses, not simply racing. So on deck you will find an anchor locker forward, an opening cockpit seat on the port side, and P&S seats in the forward end of the cockpit with some low backrests. Daysailing and limited cruising is very much in the realm of the J/88. The traveler and mainsheet are set up so that you could single hand the boat, the helmsman could trim the main, or you can have a dedicated main trimmer. The jib tacks very easily so usually one person can do that job alone. There is plenty of room aft of the traveler to move about the cockpit. The non-skid is aggressive which we personally like, and the side decks aft of the shrouds are clear of toerails for comfortable hiking (if there is such a thing). Adding to the comfort of the crew on the rail, the lower lifeline is a bit lower, not evenly spaced us usual, so there is more room to move your torso over it and under the upper lifeline. The stanchions have welded on angle braces and are very sturdy for grabbing onto. Our guilty pleasure is the black powder coated stanchion and rail option which is not cheap but the cool factor is awesome!
Due to the multi-purpose nature of the J/88 it has a usable interior. The headroom is not full standing for us tall guys but you can move around without difficulty. One day we were below waiting for the launch and there were four big guys sitting in the salon and it was very comfortable, no problem with your head fitting under the side decks and there are molded backrests behind the settees with shelves above. There are stowage cubbies in the backrests, and small cabinets P&S forward of the settees. To starboard is the electrical panel outboard of a little nav area with opening top locker and another locker below. To port there is a sink, and lockers outboard and below. Table? Who needs a table? You won’t find one. There are two fixed ports so you can see outside and you will want the two small opening ports in the aft face of the coachroof facing into the cockpit, an option ordered on all the boats we have taken so far. The main cabin bulkhead if fiberglass finished in white gelcoat and separates the main cabin from the forward part of the boat. There is a curtain that is included as standard but we don’t use it. The head is tucked outboard to port so there is some privacy without it. The head is a real marine head with holding tank and there is storage outboard. Opposite the head is a stowage area for bags and the like. The forward end of the boat comes with a molded fiberglass berth top to which you can optional V berth cushions (so far everyone has done so). Under the cockpit is where we stow loose gear, there is quite a bit of room back there.
The engine is a 14HP Yanmar diesel saildrive with a geared folding prop. It is more power than the boat needs but it is nice to be able to go fast when you want to. If you are not familiar with saildrives you will be pleased with the lack of vibration, no worry about stuffing box leaks, no shaft to align, and the prop is far forward of the rudder to cut down on cavitation. Because there is no angled shaft the engine sits level which is better for the oil circulation. The engine starts instantly and is miserly on fuel. A super set-up all around.
How does it sail? That is never easy to quantify in words which is why we always encourage you to come and see for yourself. Stability is good both laterally and directionally. The rudder has lots of bite. Visibility forward is very good due to the low coachroof and non-overlapping jib. Once that big kite is up the visibility is not as good, true of all a-sail boats, especially those with lower freeboard. The boat seems to cut through waves well and behaves upwind and down. One pleasant surprise we discovered was how well the J/88 sails with only the main or jib up. The balance is excellent and the helm light. With just the main up you can’t sail quite as close to the wind obviously but the boats steers and handles just fine and the speed is pretty darn good. Nice for single handed daysailing. The PHRF rating in most areas is 87, so that gives you a yardstick of relative performance.
The Johnstones have had a most successful program for years, basing new designs on their own experience as sailors, listening to customers and dealers, and using local RI build talent and suppliers. The J/88 is not a revolutionary product but it was not intended to be. It shares the same thinking as their excellent J/111 and J/70 designs which have proven to be successful in terms of sales and on the race course. There is a need for a good modern boat in this size and price range utilizing the design and construction expertise that they have refined over the years. It is a versatile boat that you can race, daysail, short-handed sail and cruise for short periods. Our own feeling after sailing the boat since last summer is they have hit on another winner. And it is built in the USA!
RCR Yachts has been a fixture on the Great Lakes sailing scene for over 40 years. As one of North America’s most experienced and respected full-service sailboat operations, they sell new and used sailboats and powerboats, operate several boat yards and marinas, and provide service and repair work. Their multiple locations serve Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, as well as nearby inland waters. http://www.rcryachts.com/default.asp
(Chicago, IL)- “For a initial time this year, both Chicago J/88′s made
it to a starting line together,” commented Rich Stearns, a J/Boats
dealer in Chicago. He goes on to say, “With their 87 PHRF rating that
put them in Section 4. 72 boats entered a 26.2 mile scurry adult the
lake. Unfortunately, unenlightened haze would cover a swift for scarcely the
The start was downwind and light from a Southeast. The march was 345
degrees. The dual 88′s and a Farr 38 started during a pin, a inshore end.
While a rest of a territory fought for a vessel finish and afterwards battled
each other sailing out into a lake. It seemed a lighter a breeze got
a faster a 88 was compared to a fleet. When a breeze was 8 to 10
kts we only sailed even with a Farr 38 though when a breeze went to 4 kts
WOW a 2 88′s only took off.
Thirty mins into a competition a large change to a Southwest came through
with some-more fog. The dual 88′s taunt to a adored jibe. The final we saw
of a swift they were sailing offshore some sailing 90 degrees from the
finish. Fog will disorient people.
For a subsequent 4 hours we sailed all alone in unenlightened fog. The J/88 just
flying underneath a large Asymmetric spinnaker. We don’t have instruments but
it looked like about 4 to 8 kts of breeze and a vessel only sailed the
run during 6 kts no problem. It was easy to get her going 6.5 kts though that
was too hot. We sighted land off Wilmette, Illinois and as predestine would
have it we got a good change to taunt in.
We were within dual miles of a finish when a organisation member reported
seeing another boat! “Boy it looks kind of big!” “No, unequivocally it looks
kind of big”. No one could unequivocally make it out in a haze though it was
coming flattering fast, that was for sure. “I consider it is a TP52″. But,
we figured they had upheld us hours ago. “No, it is a TP52!” Sure
enough, they started 30 mins after us and rating -81 PHRF no one
thought we would see them. “Wait”! there is another boat!” “It looks
really, unequivocally big!” “Holy smokes, it’s a Andrews 77, she rates -138
Well, a bad news is both a large boats kick us opposite a line. The
good news is “Hokey Smoke” J/88 #21 won overall. Then, out of a fog
came another small boat. Amazing! It was a other J/88, Ben Wilson’s
“Rambler”, that came opposite a line to finish second overall. Ben is
having a good year; fixation high in a dual other events he entered his
vessel and partner coaching a Loyola Ramblers to a NCAA National
Championship in NCAA Men’s Volleyball!
The haze wouldn’t let adult so we tied adult during a dock. Soon, in came Scott
Simms’ J/109 “Slap Shot” followed by Pete Prieda’s J/109 “Full Tilt” to
place third and fourth overall. Sorry no pictures- haze will do that! A
sweep for J/Boats!!” Thanks for a story and colorful explanation from
(Mamaroneck, NY)- Recently, we got a report from Howie McMichaels, the J/Boats dealer on Long Island Sound, regards the enormous amount of interest being generated for J/88’s on the Sound. “88’s are in full swing at McMichael, two boats at our docks this week and three more launching later this month! Check out our Facebook page for some more pictures!” Thanks also to Howie for the photos! http://www.facebook.com/mcmyacht
29 April, 2014
Stuart Johnstone takes you inside the new Dr. L owned J/88 Crazy Eights on their aborted Newport to Ensenada Race…
The weather forecast for this year’s N2E had a lot of promise, but with a few wrinkles thrown into the mix. For several days, many models showed an unusual micro-low ( a mini-me of a cyclone) circulating just offshore of Los Angeles, producing breezes in the southerly quadrant. The big question was how long would it last on Friday morning before the start, how strong the wind would be from the SSE and how quickly would it dissipate when the huge depression from the NW rolled in with the promised gales offshore and 15-25 kts winds along the coast.
As one might imagine, whatever was forecast was going to be completely wrong. Indeed it was off by at least 50%. The basic scenario played out but not like what many experienced navigators on SoCal races expected. With the wx report models all over the place, it was creating a certain amount of anxiety for many of the top boats as well as ourselves on the debut offshore race for the J/88 CRAZY EIGHTS- Dr Laura Schlessinger’s latest wild ride for West Coast racing.
What happened. On the way to the starting area, the weather was spectacular, southerly breezes with sunny, clear skies and puffy white clouds scudding across the horizon. At our start around noon-time, the breeze continued to pick up from the SSE (125-130 degrees or so). The micro low just offshore produced 10-17 kt SSE winds for the first 5 hrs of the race.
Most of the fleet (95% of them) took off on port tack, anticipating the new frontal shift moving into the WNW quadrants in the mid-afternoon. As the fleet pounded to windward in a huge swell with wind-driven chop on top, it was clear that many boats were anxious to get onto starboard tack and head down the coast. By mid-afternoon, many boats were tacking when the breeze was still around 145-150, still left of the “closest tack angle” to the finish line (we never saw those boats again).
The forecasted gradual shift never happened, the wind died completely early evening with huge NW swell generated by the incoming front with an overlay of southerly chop making for a “washing machine” effect. The whole fleet stopped, particularly inshore boats.
It seems the smart money was to go offshore until the wind direction hit 150-155 degrees, going from port tack favored VMC to the finish at Ensenada (bearing about 148 degrees) over to the newly favored starboard tack. While most of the fleet tacked far too early, we waited until TWD was around 155. After we tacked CRAZY EIGHTS, it was very clear inshore boats had much less wind. In the 88, we were rolling fast 35-40 footers inshore of us. For the next 3-4 hours, we simply sailed higher and faster than the majority of the fleet, the outside boats were getting the new, veering breeze much earlier and far longer than boats inside. On the inside boats we could identify we were gaining 5-10 deg per hour. The new breeze line coming in from 230-240 didn’t appear to migrate inshore.
After 5-6 hours of sailing hard on wind, the wind died on the whole fleet late afternoon (at least those boats we could see on the horizon). For the next hour or more, it was sailing zephyr to zephyr and we were going back and forth with a well sailed FT10 and a Sydney 38. Soon, we could see the new WNW breeze line filling under a long band of clouds (aligned SSW/NNE) as the front moved ever so agonizingly slowly onto the course area– we were about 15nm offshore at the time. We were easily one of the first dozen or so boats to get into the long awaited, very long delayed shift into the 260-280 deg quadrant. It started blowing 10-15 kts and only increased into the 12-20 kts range under certain cells moving through the course. After the frontal edge moved in for us, we could see boats only a mile or so to leeward bobbing with no wind. Taking off under barber hauled jib and later the A4, we were sailing down track at 130-145 deg to slowly sink down in front of the fleet going 8-13 kts constantly in the fairly steady breezes. The breeze was remarkably still filled with huge holes in the 8-12 kts range, puffs maxed around 18-21 kts and never lasted very long. The fleet simply disappeared behind us.
Then, we were dealing with one of our crew’s deteriorating medical/ health condition (bad reaction to a sea sick patch) – so we dropped out and sailed into San Diego. A bummer for sure since we had such an amazing race going. To give you and idea how far down track we were, we got to the Pt Loma bell #3 green flasher around 9:30pm. There was only about 50nm of sailing left for us- roughly 6-7 hrs or a finish time of around 5am or so, all things considered. In short, given where we were at the time, an easy class win and possibly an overall win. In the end, we all had a great ride on Dr Laura’s new ride, a beautiful dark blue hulled boat– it has enormous potential offshore and one of these days it will get onto the winner’s podium. Dr Laura herself sailed remarkably well considering it was her first offshore race on the J/88– quite a talented and determined skipper!
By Yachting Life /
THE J/88 is the latest in J/Boats’ sportboat range where the full planing boats are the J/70, J/80 and J/111. They are lighter, all have carbon masts and are designed to plane in 16-18kts of wind.
If you want a good IRC boat then it is the heavier, slower J/Boats which will be slightly better; the 109 and the 122 for example, but the ‘88’ buyer is bored with sailing slow, heavy boats or may come from a dinghy background, or many are coming from a bigger, raceboat background looking for more fun, less complication and less expense, writes Yachting Life boat test editor Andi Robertson.
The J/88 was developed and launched in the USA and is now being built both stateside and in France. Over 50 boats have been sold so far, with 10 in Europe, off plan at the London Boat Show or from the first test sails on the Hamble. Interest is growing exponentially and five boats are coming to the UK with one due in Scotland in June.
The people who are buying them include some who have looked at the J/111 and have perhaps decided that it represents a package which is too costly, while the J/88 on the water with North Sails, B&G electronics and VAT paid is around £120,000.
People appear to be comparing it favourably with more expensive, bigger boats although in due course I am sure some will step up from existing sportboats as this, of course, is an excellent dayboat and family weekender as well.
Key Yachting have raced their demo J/88 in the Solent Winter Series, but only with prospective buyers and different crews and they still won a few races. It proved to be most competitive diversely in the light and strong winds. In medium breezes the 29 footer might struggle against 35 footers of the same rating, which are inherently faster upwind. The J/88 will be going upwind at 6.5kts and a bit, while the 35 footer is typically 7kts. Downwind it will be quicker, but still on an upwind downwind track the longer heavier boats may be better in the 8-15kts range. However in light airs the J/88 is great and in contrast, as soon as it is planing it is even more competitive.
The future is likely to be one design and already two of the UK owners are driving the class. With keen owners behind it, it will happen. And for sure the five initial sales will double quickly.
The boat in one design format will be promoted actively, which is to say the intention is not to optimise to IRC, which proved a bit of a mistake with the J/111 where the mainsail girth was reduced to make it more IRC friendly.
So the fleet splits between those which want to sail IRC and those on one design. All UK boats have been sold with the same sail inventory, so far all North 3Di, and the usual inventory is one mainsail, a full sized Code 2 jib, a Code 3.5 heavy weather jib, a Code 2 running spinnaker, which is a little more all purpose than the deep J/109 style running kite, and then a Code 5 reaching spinnaker.
The American boats are all coming with a recessed furler as 40 of the 50 boats over there have been sold to the day sailing market. They tend to be people who have sailed for a long time, have plenty of money and have time, don’t want to race, but want a good looking, fast day boat.
In Europe everybody who has ordered a boat wants it for racing. And so there is no furler and instead for those racing it is a Tuff Luff for fully crewed, or on hanks for those who will sail short handed.
There will be no crew weight limit, as per the J/70. There will be a crew maximum of seven and so far the feeling is that the boat is fast and best with a crew of five or six. But overall the expectation is that the boat will be raced with a cosy mix of males, females, family teenagers, adults and there are several family crews among those who have already bought J/88s.
The first Scottish buyer had a J/111 on the east coast but the boat was too fast and needed too many crew for the usual domestic racing there and so he has gone for the J/88 which is easily towed through to the west and, indeed down south for one design racing.
The stern is broader than the J/92 which it replaces. The new boats are longer on the water line, more plumb on the bow and stern, while the wider transom facilitates earlier planing and gets the crew weight outboard when you are hiking out upwind.
The rudder is transom hung which gives more space in the T shaped cockpit as it allows the traveller to be further back in the cockpit. There is plenty of space for all in front of the traveller for the working crew and then behind it for the mainsheet trimmer, helm and tactician or guest. There are big moulded footrests at the back for these crew. There is an excellent 18:1 fine and 6:1 coarse tune mainsheet system. The backstay and traveller controls fall easily to hand. The European boats will come with a 10hp Volvo D1 diesel with a Saildrive and two blade bronze folding prop. The lifelines are proper IRC double height with the lower lifeline lower than the mid point to facilitate hiking.
Hardware will mainly be Harken on the European boats. The rig on the European boats will be Selden carbon masts, matched closely to the Hall Spars mast which is supplied on the US boats. It is deck stepped to reduce the chance of water ingress and also it restricts the overhang of the mast when it is being transported. A metre and a half off saves on overall length for ferry and transport costs. Selden have already built 130 J/70 masts and all are matched to weight and bend characteristics and CG of the US built masts.
The European boats will likely lose the anchor locker up front and the furler. People over here prefer the standard jibs with normal battens for a more efficient sail shape, reflecting the fact that most will race their boats.
There is more cockpit space than its predecessor and there is a good sized sliding hatch and companionway.
Inside there is a V-shaped forepeak which will normally be left open for sail storage. It can have a V-berth infill which will actually create a decent sized double berth. The heads space is aft with a roll down blind available to afford a little extra privacy.
There is a moulded sink to port, a little navigatorium to starboard and under the cockpit steps a big icebox for storage. The saloon area has moulded backrests offering comfort and there is the possibility to have one or two quarter berths aft.
All the weight is centralised with the diesel tank behind the engine.
We sailed the first UK boat in a shifty, offshore northerly breeze in Southampton water. Albeit we had a relatively tight time window, but the J/88 was impressive, especially in terms of all round speed, simplicity and handling.
Upwind, although we only had three aboard, so one crew on the rail, it was easy to settle and find a nice, high groove. In 9-13kts of breeze we were making 6.5 to 6.7kts. Inhauling the jib gives a nice tight angle although you do have to be careful not to go too high. It felt more like a proper sportboat, with a better VMG achieved by letting the bow down and going a smidge quicker rather than necessarily sailing a high, slow mode.
She tacked beautifully, swift and easy losing little way, and accelerated nicely. The foils need little encouragement, but the groove is well defined and it will not over test a reasonable helm and yet it is certainly refined enough to positively reward good crew work and steering.
Off the wind? Well what’s not to like. The big running kite will have the bow lifted in 14 or 15kts of breeze and it is just the right size that it is not punishing smaller crews but it does maximise speed in light to moderate airs. And we had a blast with the reaching kite. I reckon this will be a great boat for club racing on coastal courses, like we still do all around the UK.
The J/88 is a cracker. And J/Boats are probably the most successful global brand for sailing performance cruisers and sportboats. They have another winner.
J/Fest Open House at RCR Youngstown, 3/16/14, 11am-4pm:
Please join us inside our heated Youngstown showroom to view and discuss our brand new J/70 and J/88 models. Take an up close look at our stock boats, enjoy some food and beverage, and talk amongst J/boat owners and friends. Also joining us will be expert racers and sailmakers from Ullman Sails and Haarstick Sailmakers. RCR staff from all of our locations will be onsite to offer helpful hints from their extensive experience sailing these two J/boats.
Factory Update, by Jim Egloff:
This past Monday I picked up J/70 #499, which we sold into Rochester, from Rhode Island, one of the boat building capitals of the world. While here, I couldn't miss the chance to set up a factory tour. The group at CCF Composites in Bristol, RI were terrific. This plant builds the J/70, J/80 and J/111, all of which were at various stages of production. The plant now builds one J/88 per week. We have sold hull #11, 28, and 29, hull #27 will be our stock boat, and these boats will start to arrive in Youngstown and Buffalo in mid-April. RCR is committed to this boat through our demo program with our hull #2. We didn't receive our boat until July and even with the shortened season we still had success with the program. We will again ramp up our demo program for the upcoming season. The boat will be raced as we expect to receive our PHRF rating this spring. We hope to have the boat sailing in our other locations besides Youngstown, which will provide additional sea trials to a larger group of sailors. Please feel free to give me a call to discuss the boat, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. The boat now rests inside our heated showroom. Also come by during our J/Fest open house and meet some of the new J/88 owners and get their take on why they chose the J/88.
Registration for the CanAm Challenge, 4 J/88s already signed up:
Youngstown Yacht Club is running a new one-design event on July 26-27, 2014. The J/88 fleet is off to a good start with 4 boats already registered and hopefully adding more as the season progresses. The fleet will have its own one-design start at the regatta. Registration is open on Yacht Scoring with 54 total boats already signed up: http://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=969
Boat-of-the-Year Award: Sailing World named the J/88 as their best new One-Design as part of their 2014 Boat-of-the-Year Awards. There was high praise from the judges for the J/88’s design, sailing qualities and construction. Here’s a link to the full Sailing World report with photos. Congratulations to the build team at CCF Composites for a great job and to the whole J network for supporting the launch of the J/88. Demand continues to build globally, and tooling is just shipping to France so that J Composites can begin producing J/88s for the European market this spring. The full story here:
J/88 is on the cover of latest Sailing World magazine, debuting SW’s new and improved format.
J/88 Named Best Performance Boat under 40’ by Yachts & Yachting magazine!
Sailing & Walk-Through Video by “The Hull Story”: A very good video explanation of the new J/88 by Jeff Johnstone, president of Jboats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDDun32dKgo
Sail magazine review: http://www.sailmagazine.com/boat-reviews/boat-review-j88
Yacht World Review and Youtube Video: http://www.yachtingworld.com/performance-world/news/535966/new-j88-our-view-on-video
J/boats link: http://www.jboats.com/j88
By Yachting Life /
THE J/88 has already attracted awards from all over Europe and the USA, also sales are pleasingly steady in the UK with five boats already sold prior to the London Boat Show and at least one further boat sold during the ExCel Event.
The ‘88’ fits into the line of J-Boats between the J/70 and the J/111 and is already destined to be a one design, writes Andi Robertson.
With a plumb bow and negligible stern overhangs the effective waterline length is maximised. The keel shape is a modern L with a transom hung rudder.
In many respects as a 30 footer it borrows from sportboat thinking in terms of layout and configuration with a short coachroof, but it feels very much like a proper yacht, hence the cockpit is big and simple with good seating forwards and there are good working areas, yet it feels secure and safe for day sailing.
The generous twin spreader rig comprises a carbon mast and boom which sets a powerful main with a relatively squared off roach and with a wide shroud base uses non overlapping jibs. Standing rigging is a rod forestay, 1×19 side rigging and a Dyneema backstay. The jibs use a neatly recessed Harken furling and the mainsheet system with coarse and fine tune is well situated so that it can be easily operated by the helm if required. The rig is well set up to be easily tuned from the deck, while embracing a wide wind range.
The class rules specify a maximum of two jibs and two spinnakers which ensures budgets will be kept to a sensible level. I think we can be sure that the J/88 is already on course to become a strong class in the UK with probably ten boats likely by Cowes Week or just after. One is already ordered for a Forth based Scottish J/Boat owner.
According to most reports so far, the J/88 is quick in the light to moderate breezes, planes early in around 16kts and is predictably fast in the stronger breeze. It will be competitive in moderate winds, but does not have any significant speed advantages in the moderate 9-13kt range.
Downstairs there is everything you would want for a bit of weekending or a few days away, or for crew to sleep comfortably aboard during regattas.
There is a WC with a holding tank, positioned forward of the main bulkhead. A decent double berth up forward includes some sail stowage, whilst the main saloon includes two full length settee berths, a ‘mini galley’ and some stowage. It is simple, but basic below.
It is however a good package for a 30 footer which will no doubt deliver a lot of fun, and it is a really good size. It will certainly win regattas and will be a great one design, filling an obvious gap in the market at this size.