J/34c Cruising World Review

Fast is fun. California boat builder Bill Lee said it first and he was right. But for all the builders and sailors who laud the virtues of speed, many are unwilling (or unable) to take the necessary steps to acquire true quickness. Unfortunately, compromises are usually part of the game if fleet sailing is an honest quest. Sure, we all want to go fast, but do we really want to work hard, or go in an ugly boat, or leave our favorite stuff home to do it? Of course not.

The J/34c shows that we can have our speed (as well as our leisure, looks and things) and like it, too. Built in Rhode Island by Tillotson-Pearson to standards as high as they get in modern production sailboat construction, the Rod Johnstone design is a fine marriage of form and function, with the end result being a true cruising boat with all the amenities plus a big bonus: It sails fast and well.

The J/34c is not to be confused with the earlier 34-foot IOR racer produced by J/Boats. Beneath her long, 30-foot waterline she sports a shoal draft "UFO" (underwater flying object) keel that's somewhat of a cross between the late Ben Lexcen's famous wing and a giant, bulbous lima bean grown next door to a nuclear power plant. Whatever, it's proven to be an efficient shape that allows access to shallow waters. Another nice feature is the cockpit arrangement, particularly the traveler set up with big self-tailing mainsheet winches at either end. It's positioned just forward of the steering pedestal, leaving the companionway open and uncluttered while allowing the helmsman to effectively play the main.

Like her profile, the interior plan is clean and good-looking. There's a big stateroom and head forward, a pair of long settees that flank the central dining table and a galley, navigation area and quarter berth aft. All in all, the J/34c is a sailor's sailboat.

She'll give any club racer her size a fair shake around the cans, but don't let her nimble ways fool you. Cruisers are allowed to have this much fun, too.