Why J/105? A SAILING WORLD Magazine Review
"Less Is More Again"
The evolution of boat design works on a cross fertilization of ideas between the worlds of racing and cruising, monohulls and multihills, planing hulls and displacement hulls, ancient and modern. New ideas are rare, but new combinations of proven ideas are common. Even so, once in a while a boat exhibits a combination of proven ideas in such a way that it deserves to be called unique. The J/105 is such a boat - it's a return to the notion that a simple sailplan, clean deck layout, practical interior, and high performance are the best ingredients for both racing and cruising. It's a return also to the idea that a boat's looks can be as tangibly important as its interior volume.
mistakes, and will make a big difference to buyers who have never raced planing dinghies and who may have sailed auxiliaries at six knots all their lives.
The basic sailplan is powerful and straightforward - a tall, double-spreader fractional rig with a big main and roller-furling jib. There's a bit of latitude in the J/105 one-design rules regarding choice of sailcloth, mainsail batten locations and lengths, roller-battens in the jib, and so forth, but the idea is to keep things simple. The deck layout reflects that idea - it's empty, except for a couple of very short jib-lead tracks.
The 105 makes one of its main points when it sails off the wind. J-Boats, figuring that by now everyone knows enough to tack downwind, fitted the 105 with an asymmetrical spinnaker in a snuffer, and a carbon-fiber bow pole that is launched through a tube out of the forepeak. The boat will race one-design with the main, jib and asymmetrical spinnaker, but in fact these three sails are all that 98 percent of J/105 owners will ever need. The arrangement is simple and it allows maximum VMG off the wind almost al the time. If fact, if this becomes a trend we may eventually see the demise of the pole-stabilized symmetrical chute, except on those few grand prix boats that have to carry sails for every possible angle. And good riddance.
The J/105 is completely optimized for shorthanded sailing; it can be raced easily with three or four, and cruised easily by two. "Anyone who has sailed a variety of so-called racer/cruisers in the last 10 or 15 years will be able to confirm that statement. The J/105 is exactly the boat many sailors would have bought in the 80's, even if they could have afforded something much more expensive. That's one reason it won the Racer/Cruiser category in SW's 1991 Boat of the Year Awards (Jan 1992) - it made a unified promise to a large cadre of sailors who haven't been able to find their idea of a true racer/cruiser. These are sailors who love racing fast auxiliaries but hate the complications - the rating hassles, the requisite heaps of gear and sails, and the problems of finding crew. They're the same sailors who like to sneak off for long weekends with their families once in a while, but either have to set and douse their chutes shorthanded or sit and grumble if their destinations are downwind. When they get where they are going, the don't want to live in pipe berths down below, but on the other hand they don't care for the weight and clutter of furnishings that are supposed to make them feel at home. All they really want is a light, fast boat that is easy to sail shorthanded, and maybe a cockpit where they can stretch out under the stars.