j120

SAIL Magazine- By Tom Dove

Just Launched... J/120

The new J/120 is an impressive 40-footer, a performance machine with cruising accommodations. Its size will appeal to sailors who want to go fast around the buoys and those who want to go from point to point and have real comfort once they get to an anchorage or marina.

TPI molds the hull with its resin-infusion process, using vacuum bagging and resin injection, to achieve a glass-to-resin ratio of 65 to 70 percent and minimal environmental impact during construction. The Baltek end-grained balsa core is covered with skins of biaxial and unidirectional glass; the outer hull uses vinylester.

Structural bulkheads and a framework of solid-glass L beams reinforce the hull. The mast rests on an aluminum I-beam keel step. All glass work is neatly finished, and the attractive cabin ceilings are teak in the saloon and padded vinyl elsewhere. The interior overhead features a removable padded-vinyl liner.

The lightweight hull is driven by a large mainsail set on a double-spreader rod-rigged spar, either the standard aluminum or a carbon-fiber version (at an additional cost of around $11,000). Our test boat had a small 100 percent jib and, or course, the hallmark J Boat asymmetrical spinnaker set on a retractable carbon-fiber bowsprit. The traveler, with its double-ended mainsheet, is located next to the steering pedestal, which makes it easy for a helmsman to steer and handle the mainsail from either side or when positioned on centerline.

Our test sail on Chesapeake Bay had plenty of wind as we dodged thunderstorms and enjoyed 15-to-20 knot breezes with regular gusts to 25. Just the un-reefed main made the boat a frisky performer with good control: we reached speeds of 6 to 7 knots as we sailed to windward.

When we unrolled the jib and bore away onto a broad reach, we could sustain a 9-knot planing speed, with regular forays above 10. The boat gave a fast, smooth, controllable ride that could make a cruising-powerboat owner sit up and reconsider his or her choice.

Although the wind was a little too strong to comfortably set the asymmetrical with our crew of three, it is well known that this sail can provide additional speed in light air. In that breeze with a full crew, the spinnaker could have easily driven reaching speeds into the mid-teens.

The engine, a 38-horsepower Yanmar, is ample and drives the boat to hull speed easily. Control under power is good in both forward and reverse, although the large spade rudder requires that you have a firm hand on the wheel when going in reverse.

Below deck, the cabin is bright, open, and livable, with plenty of opening ports and hatches for ventilation and well-placed grab-rails for safety. There are, inevitably, a few performance/elegance trade-offs, such as some intrusion into the forward cabin by the retracted bowsprit and fabric locker doors that save weight. Overall, however, this is a very livable interior with good stowage space, and it's clear that sailors have designed it.

For example, the nav table has a thoughtfully partitioned shelf inside to organize pencils, dividers, rules and other essential tools. All too often these items can become part of a navigator's stowage omelet.

The boat can be managed with ease by a physically fit couple, which makes it a serious choice for any sailor who wants to go places with speed and in comfort. For owners who want to enjoy some real sailing on a passage and then have a pleasant vacation spot on the water when they arrive, this boat, provides an answer.