J35

J/35 - From the Experts

Sailing World Magazine- Andreas Josenhans

Keelboat champion Andreas Josenhans shares his high-speed techniques and rigging details for this quick offshore one-design. Sailing Photographs by Sharon Green.

Designed by Rodney Johnstone in 1983, the J/35 has since become one of North America's most popular 35-footers. There are now 275 boats built, and at least 100 sail actively at one-design regattas. Not only is it one of the fastest boats in its size range, but a growing class organization has helped promote one design competition in the Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, and both the East and West coasts. It's a great arena for racing, and the class association helps maintain the value of the boat. The result is solid competition at one third the price of an IOR boat, with little sacrifice in speed.

Laying Down the Basics
While it's obviously best to have a light boat, race results don't indicate that-the interior configuration of the boats make a significant difference. In fact, newer boats with full interiors have won the North American and East Coast championships in 1989. Still, there are a few areas that deserve scrutiny if you want to be sure you're "playing on the same field" as the competition.

We all know that a well-prepared, smooth bottom is faster than a rough one. While it can be an unpleasant job to prepare the bottom of any boat, the return in performance is significant. Sand the surface of the hull so it is smooth, fair, and ready to accept your favorite paint. Fair the keel and make it symmetrical, but don't bother with fairing it down to the class minimum. There have been a few keels that were fully minimized, but we don't think the cost-to-gain ratio was worth it. It is, however, worthwhile to fair the rudder and make it symmetrical with a perfect trailing edge - an asymmetrical rudder will cause a lot of helm on one tack and none on the other.

For accurate boatspeed information, the speedo's paddle wheel location on the hull is critical. It should be 3 to 4 feet ahead of the forward point of the keel at the root. The centerline location creates equal speed readings on both tacks, and the fore-and-aft position is reasonable given keel wash and waves.

Our rule of thumb regarding extra gear is, unless you use whatever you bring on board, or rules and safety require it - don't bring it. Remember, just like car racing, our sport is based on power-to-weight ratios that are hard to overcome without a gas pedal. The horsepower, crew, and sails are reasonably controlled by the class, so don't let extra weight control the outcome of your race! We have found that the J/35 floats in its best fore-and-aft trim with all gear within two feet of the mast, as low as possible. Two other things to remember: 1. If it's required to have a raft, make sure you can get it top-side in 15 seconds. 2. Don't take anything off the boat after 2100 the night before the race (IYRU rule 22.2).

Tuning
When you hook up your shrouds to the chainplates, install the upper shroud on the aft outside hole, the lower shroud on the forward hole, and the diagonal shroud on the inside hole (see photo). Since we want to encourage the mast to bend forward down low, we put the lower shroud on the forward hole to allow that. We put the upper shroud on the aft hole to help keep it as tight as possible.

We have developed two ways to set the mast up: one for light air, using a softer headstay; and one for heavy air, with less sag in the headstay, to produce less helm and a stiffer mast. For our mainsail, we've been working with 1.5" of pre-bend, which requires blocking the mast all the way aft in the partners. This also opens the slot between the two sails and makes it easier to generate more tension on the headstay with the limited amount of backstay adjustment allowed by the class.

In light air the headstay length should be 48'11" measured from the pin where the headstay meets the spar to the pin at the stem. In heavy air we shorten this to 48'9" by tightening a turnbuckle on the bow. You can duplicate these settings by keeping a piece of Kevlar string with the two measurements marked in it tied to the bow, so you can quickly make the adjustment before the five-minute gun. Here's all the other things we adjust for different wind conditions again, check with your sailmakers for more specific info on your sails.

0-6 Knots True
Headstay length: 48'11"; backstay tension 30-50 percent of maximum depending on the sea state (less for rough water provides a rounder entry on the genoa to punch through the waves). Heel the boat 12-15 degrees for a light windward helm. The genoa foot should be 4" off the shroud at the chainplate, and the same off the top spreader. The main should have the top batten parallel with the boom to accelerate, and over-trimmed 2 or 3 degrees to point. The runner should be loose, and the outhaul should be just tight enough to close the foot shelf. The priority in these conditions is to keep the telltales flying on the jib, and achieve your target speed.

Use the .5 oz. runner downwind - make sure it is absolutely dry. Position the crew with the skipper and guy trimmer in the cockpit, with the rest of the crew forward and the spinnaker trimmer near the windward guy block. Keep the crew weight low, near the shrouds, and spread athwartships so any rolling will be slow, timed with the waves,

through a wide arc. On a very light reach it pays to heel the boat 2-4 degrees to give the boat a groove and let gravity help shape the sails. Once the wind is visible on the water and the boats peed is over 3 knots, speed will plateau unless you level the boat. A light sheet and the crew spread out low and forward helps stabilize the spinnaker, so you can fly a bigger curl and sail a lower angle. Take the slack genoa halyard to the bow and pull it hard to prevent rig bounce, and trim the foreguy hard to steady the pole.

Finally, in underpowered or bumpy conditions, it really pays to put the non-string pulling crew down below ("the dogs in the house") to concentrate the center of gravity. If the boat is pitching or rolling, the motion of air molecules over the surface of the sails is erratic - sometimes fast, sometimes slow - which makes accurate sail trim impossible. Since you have control over roughly 15 percent of the weight on the boat, you can minimize these flow variations by keeping the crew weight down low. Also, move the weight forward if the waves start to slap the underside of the bow forefoot.

12 Knots True
Headstay length: 48'11"; backstay should be 70-90 percent of max load; heel 12-15 degrees, light windward helm. The genoa should be just touching the chainplate, and the leech should be 1"-4" off the top spreader, depending on the sea state or your ability to hold target speed - looser to accelerate or for waves.

 

The mainsail top batten should be 5 degrees to windward of the boom, and the boom should be 8"-12" above centerline. The foot shelf of the main should be closed.

Trim the runner very hard to shape the main with I" wrinkles in the luff. Depending on the type of 12 knots you are in (steady or puffy), you could be nearly overpowered. If you are, make sure you don't heel more after reaching your target speed - hike harder, flatten out the sails, and point.

You also might shorten the headstay if your crew is light (under 1600 lbs.). Sail the boat flat 5-8 degrees heel is fast. We use the .5 oz. for the runs, until the No.3 is in use or the boat heel exceeds 15 degrees. Set the pole height to generate a 4'¬6' curl - short enough to be controllable and long enough to let the sail breathe. Once the pole height suits the trimmer, we pull the leech down hard with the twing to make the leech mirror the luff.

If you're not sure when to twing, look back at a competitor's sail and look for asymmetry. Also, make sure the boat isn't heeling, and watch the speed carefully.

When sailing dead downwind, heel the boat to windward and keep the weight forward, just like light air. The .75 oz. does a great job reaching. Move the crew weight back to control heel and keep the rudder immersed, and pull the pole back as far as possible - but don't let the lower part of the spinnaker luff sag aft and to leeward. Adjust the power with the mainsheet and vang tension, and try to keep a slight windward helm.

17 Knots True
Tighten the headstay to 48'9". The genoa foot should be hard on the chainplate, and the halyard should be tensioned to remove most wrinkles. The leech should be 6"-10" off the top spreader (more or less depending on the sea state). Control the backwind in the mainsail by easing the lead aft.

The runner should be at maximum load, or enough to position what little shape is left in the mainsail at 50 percent back. The outhaul should be at maximum to help minimize backwind, and a tight cunningham will also help keep the draft at 50 percent. The top batten should be open to spill power and help accelerate. Don't let the boat heel more than 18 degrees.

22 Knots True
Keep the headstay at 48'9", and sail with a full main and No.3 with the backstay at 70-90 percent. The range of the No.3 is 18-28 knots, which requires backstay and runner adjustment from 70-100 percent. The boat should heel 17-22 degrees.

Position the sheet lead for the No.3 so the telltales break evenly. Its top batten should be pointing 5 degrees to leeward from the centerline. Remove wrinkles on the luff with the halyard, and make the entry round with a straight exit. The bottom of the sail should be flat, and it helps to keep the tack of the sail as low as possible.

Using the. 75 oz. spinnaker you can push dead downwind with the same windward heel - the only scary part being an unintentional jibe broach. Prevent this by carrying all the crew to leeward and aft with a small curl in the spinnaker, tight vang (top batten 5 degrees above parallel to the boom) and the spinnaker on a short leash (don't ease the sheet out too far). Ease the backstay 50 percent when running. While pumping is all but illegal now, it still pays to steer very aggressively to stay under the 'chute and roll down the face of the waves. Success or failure on the 22-plus reach is knowing when you will broach and staying under the threshold at all costs. Keep the backstay on all the way, move the crew aft to keep the rudder immersed, and ease the vang when necessary.

Crew
The J/35 is a unique boat - it's half the price of a One Ton, but has the same speed in moderate conditions. The class crew weight limit of 1600 lbs. requires 8 to 10 people to be near the legal limit. There is no maneuver that needs more than 6 or 7 people, as long as the crew practices a few evenings prior to each event.

Starting at the bow, it's terrific to have a light bow person who won't disturb the boat's motion each time the genoa is lowered and turtled downwind. When the bow person is not hiking between the chainplates and the second stanchion, he's responsible for getting the sails up and down, for handling jibes, flaking the sails correctly, and helping prevent collisions by looking around the forestay while seated.

Another key person is the "seeing eye dog." This crew is in charge of calling the waves, big puffs, and lulls loudly (and early enough) to the helm and sail trimmer. When this is done properly, the boat maintains target pace through rough spots, lulls, and won't get tipped over in the gusts. Also, long-range scans upwind predict big wind shifts that might otherwise catch you unaware. The name of the game is anticipation, and the seeing eye dog provides it.

The genoa trimmer on our boat releases the sheet just in the last second as we tack, and eases the runner on the new lee side as he crosses over to grind in the last two feet of the sheet. When it's windy, once the trimmer has the sail in correctly, or even close, he hops to windward and the mainsail trimmer finishes the job.

The mainsail trimmer is really the speed mechanic because he's near the helm and all the power controls. Tactically, the main trimmer has time to keep partial track of the lifts and headers, and reports on the other boats to leeward and ahead. The speed mechanic role can be time consuming since a two-knot change in windspeed dictates adjustment of the traveler, backstay, mainsheet, runner, jib lead, and sheet. A larger change may require halyard, cunningham, and outhaul adjustment.

The helmsman usually steers to a target speed, which could be a boat next door, or a narrow lane between boats. The driver also does boat-on-boat reaction tactically, as well as the final execution of the start - which is when the preparation and practice you've put into your J/35 program all comes together.

Andreas Josenhans is the Manager of North Sails East, and has been racing on Tom Stark's J/35 Rush since October 1988. Rush has won the J/35 class at the Manhassett Bay YC Fall Series, the American YC Spring Series, Block Island Race Week, the Audi Sailing World NOOD Regatta, and finished second at the North American Championship. Josenhans is also well known as a two-time winner of both the Soling and Star world championships.

The J/35 - Practical Sailor Used Boat Survey

Go-fast racer/cruiser from the fabulous Johnstones

The "J" stands for Johnstone and the "35" stands for 35 feet. Straightforward-a characteristic of both the boat and the company that sells them.

The Johnstones were originally two: Rod Johnstone started things in 1976 when he designed a 24-footer and built it in his garage. He convinced his brother, Bob Johnstone, that the boat could be a success, and Bob became chief salesman, in charge of the business.

The original J/24 was sold as a "fast" boat that ignored the existing racing rules. At the time, there was a large group of serious racers who felt that the handicap rules, particularly the International Offshore Rule (lOR) and the Midget Ocean Racing Club (MORC), were encouraging unhealthy extremes in design-not necessarily good, fast sailboats, but rather boats that would sail marginally faster than their low handicap ratings said they should sail, boats that required huge crews to go fast.

At the time, the word on the J/24 was that it spit in the eye of the rules; Rod Johnstone had designed a boat that went fast and was fun to sail, and if it didn't do well in the handicap rating game, then it was the game that was at fault. Except for a couple of aberrations-a 34 and a 41 designed to beat the lOR rule-the J/Boats have remained faithful to that idea. And it is significant that the rating rules have come around to the J/Boats, rather than vice versa. There are more J/Boats than any other brand, by far, racing under the current PHRF and IMS handicap rules.

The company now sells a wide range of boats-22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 40, 44, with a new 60 about to appear. Most of the models up through the 35 have active one-design racing associations. The company is much better than most at supporting such groups, and even their cruising oriented models, like the J/28 and J/34C, have proven successful on the race course.

Unlike most sailboat companies, J/Boats decided from the beginning to stay out of the boatbuilding end of the business. Rather than a J/Boat factory, the completed boats come from Tillotson-Pearson, an independent company whose president, Everett Pearson, was one of the pioneers of fiberglass boatbuilding.

The arrangement has been mutually satisfactory over the years, with J/Boats having relatively little invested in manufacturing overhead, concentrating on the design and marketing; and Tillotson-Pearson has another steady and successful customer to complement the other lines of boats that they build-Alden and Garry Hoyt's new Manta 32 along with some high-tech endeavors, such as fabricating giant carbon-fiber propellers for wind generators.

Over the years, Tillotson-Pearson has established a reputation for high-quality production work, often at the leading edge of fiberglass technology, that has helped J/Boats maintain an image of quality near the top-end of the production spectrum.

The J/35 was a successful racer from its introduction in 1983, and with 300 built so far, it has had a successful production run for the company. The 35 is still available as a new boat and will continue to be. A new design, the 35C, is unrelated to the 35, a different design, slower, aimed more at cruising than the original 35.

In design, the 35 looks like a typical Rod Johnstone boat, with short overhangs for a long waterline, relatively low and flat sheerline, a low cabin house, and a moderate well-balanced rig. Obviously, Johnstone knows something about the harmony between a boat's underbody and the water, but a large part of the boat's speed is also dependent on the light weight- 10,500 pounds on a 30-foot waterline-as well as a good distribution of that weight.

Traditionalists may think the J/35 is a little plain, but its proportions are pleasing, and many people consider it the most attractive grand prix racer around. If you didn't know the boat's record, you probably wouldn't pick it out of a crowd as a speedster, or know that it's one of the most successful racing boats of its size in the 1980s.

The boat has primarily been known as a racer, but the company touts it as a shorthanded cruiser as well. The boat's big cockpit, while principally designed for a racing crew, does make the boat good for day sailing, ideal for taking out guests and for dock partying. The boat has frequently been involved in singlehanded racing (both Tony Lush and Francis Stokes raced J/35s across the Atlantic), and we would agree with the company that it is easily handled by a couple, and could make for good cruising for two people or a family with small children.

Though the hull is a bit more beamy and saucer shaped than would be ideal in an offshore boat, it is one of the few modem racers under 40 feet in which we would consider doing an ocean crossing. In storm or hurricane conditions, it has a greater chance of achieving inverse stability than a narrower, heavier boat, but its speed makes it more likely that the prudent sailor will be able to sail away from such extreme conditions.

Construction

As is necessary to make a strong but light boat, the J/35 uses some sophisticated construction techniques. Both the hull and deck are balsa-cored, with the end-grain balsa inside layers of biaxial and unidirectional fiberglass. As with any cloth, there is less stretch and more strength parallel to the glass fibers than across them, and the biaxial and unidirectional cloth used by Tillotson-Pearson lets the builder arrange the cloth throughout the hull so its strength is in line with the forces that occur during hard sailing.

Unlike most boats, the main structural bulkhead which takes the forces of the rig is a molded fiberglass piece, and the floors are made up of glass beams to which both the mast step and the external lead keel are fastened.

The hull and deck are strong and, perhaps more importantly, stiff, so that there is a minimum of flexing when the boat is being pushed. The quality of the construction is evident in the six- and seven-year-old boats that are still able to handle the rig forces of a pumped-up backstay on a hard beat.

We have a lingering concern about the longevity of balsa cored boats, since we have seen many 10- to 20-year-old boats with deck delaminations and a few with substantial delamination in the hull. Tillotson-Pearson obviously disagrees with us and continues to be committed to balsa cores.

With other builders, a major part of our concern is that balsa cored laminates seem to be more demanding of good engineering and high-quality workmanship than solid fiberglass laminates. Tillotson-Pearson is one of the few companies that we would trust to consistently do a good job in laying up a balsa-cored hull.

An unusual feature of hulls built after 1988 is that the company provides a 10-year warranty against blistering. In molding the boat, they use a vinylester resin on the first layer inside the gelcoat, and-along with a clean shop and careful workmen-they think this is enough to warrant the guarantee. The guarantee is transferable to later owners.


New J/35s can also be purchased with an American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) certificate. ABS is similar to the better known English Lloyd's certification, in that an independent surveyor periodically checks the shop and the boat during construction to make sure it meets minimum standards. While relatively new to cruising sailors, ABS certification is important to racers in the top echelons. International offshore regattas require such certification. It seems worthwhile because it is about the only way buyers can get an independent evaluation of the boat without overseeing the entire construction process themselves. The boat comes with a thorough list of standard equipment. The company lists only 18 options for a new boat, and most of these are aesthetic preferences or cruising options, such as a dark-colored hull, two-tone deck, V -berth, swim ladder, and propane locker. The rig is excellent, with a Hall Spars mast, rod rigging, and complete state-of-the-art running rigging. All winches are adequate, but if we were planning shorthanded cruising in addition to racing, we would consider larger, self-tailing primaries. Tiller steering is standard on the boat. In its latest brochures, the company doesn't even list wheel steering as an option, but many earlier models had wheels, and some owners may still want it installed. We sailed both a tiller model and a wheel and believe the tiller is far superior, especially for racing. However, wheels seem to be sufficiently in vogue that there are a preponderance of them on the used 35s for sale. The arrangement is conventional. Forward you will find either sail bins or an optional V -berth, decently sized, with a head just aft of that, and a hanging locker and bureau opposite. Two comfortable settee berths are aft of the main bulkhead in the saloon, with an optional fold-up table between them. The galley is minimal, with a two-burner alcohol stove and sink on the port side and an ice-box with chart-table top opposite. There are two big quarter berths underneath the bridgedeck and cockpit. Ventilation is good, with eight opening ports and two hatches in addition to the companionway, but there is no provision at all for pushing air through the cabin when underway. Storage is minimal, adequate for a racing crew or for a couple on a short cruise, but every 35 we looked at had sails and crew gear spread all over the settees and berths.

We would be quite comfortable weekending or cruising on this boat, but it does lack the amenities which most people demand nowadays, like hot-and-cold pressure water, propane stove and oven, and refrigeration. All these things could be added, of course, but they rarely are because they represent weight which is anathema to the high-performance sailor.

For us, the main shortcoming of the interior is the lack of headroom forward, in the head and V-berth, and a tall person will be uncomfortable even in the main cabin.

While this interior may not sound like much to the cruising sailor who looks at other boats with VCR stations and queen-size after berths, it is far superior to the one-off custom racers and almost all other racing boats that are in the same speed class as the J/35. Though the "cruiser" part is minimal, this boat is a true racer-cruiser. Where compromises are made, the racer is clearly favored, but the owner won't feel compelled to check into a motel at the end of a long passage as is the case with most racing machines.

Interior
The J/35 is primarily a racing boat, and its interior is spartan compared to similarly sized cruising boats. But the interior is decent, and well-finished given the plainness of the boat.

Under Power
The Yanmar 3GM engine has become almost a standard in this size boat. It is a good engine, dependable, relatively quiet, and its 28 horsepower is plenty big for the J/35. A 20 gallon fuel tank gives about 150 miles of range, adequate since this boat will still be sailing in light airs when most others have cranked up the diesel. The boat comes standard with a Martec folding prop, and the boat powers easily to hull speed. The J/35 turns sharply and handles well under power, and it will back up more or less where you want it. Access to the engine is decent, behind the companionway steps underneath the cockpit. Installation of the engine and the other mechanical systems is workmanlike-good but nothing spectacular.

Under Sail
Sailing is what this boat is all about. We sailed twice on a 35 during their first two years of production, and again last fall, in two heavy-air triangular races.

The boat is obviously quick. With a PHRF rating around 70, it is significantly faster than almost all boats its size. It is 50 seconds-per-mile faster than our own l6-year-old Carter 36 and most other lOR racers between 34 and 37 feet. In the class we raced in last fall, only a Schock 35, and a C&C 37 were comparable in speed. Like most good sailing boats, the J/35 has an "effortless" quality about its motion through the water. To us, it seems that most boats make quite a fuss as you push them up toward hull speed, especially on a beat. Often, you can "hear" how fast you're going by the amount of noise the boat makes. But a J/35 moves easily up to speed, and you have to look at the knotmeter to know whether you're moving five knots or seven.

It's a well-balanced boat, with excellent feel (if you have a tiller model) on all points of sail.

The boat can be wet working to weather in waves, especially given the lack of cockpit coamings, but otherwise it has few faults in sailing. Unlike many high-performance boats, it's also quite forgiving, so an inexperienced helmsman and crew can achieve good speed and at least finish a race or a passage ahead of other boats, even if losing on handicap.

Conclusions
It is obviously not a boat for everybody. If you're looking for a weekend cottage or a floating condominium, go elsewhere. But if you are in the group of sailors who want a boat between 30 and 40 feet, whose time afloat is spent more than 50 percent in racing, you might want to consider the J/35. And if we were rolling in dough, we'd have to have one to park out in front of our condo, just for the fun of sailing it.

For the used boat shopper, the main consideration after price will be the quality of equipment, especially sails. Unlike some boats, it is probable that a J/35 has been raced, and usually raced hard, so in many instances a total refit of the basic boat may be in order.

Given that the latest models have several advantages-an ABS certificate and a 10-year anti-blister warranty-most used boat shoppers will probably want to also go the extra distance to get a new boat.

We like the J/35. It gets down to basics-if sailing is what sailing is all about, you won't find a much better boat anywhere. -R.D.

Subcategories