J-Boats has a strong racing pedigree but can the new J/99 cut the mustard for cruisers? Graham Snook put it through its paces to find out
Let’s address the elephant in the room immediately: if you’re looking for a 30ft yacht for sedate cruising, then the J/99 isn’t the best choice.
She can be cruised, which is why you’ll find her in these pages, but what she does better than other cruising yachts her size, is sail well and sail fast.
Cruising isn’t what she was primarily designed for, but if you want speed and control (and the potential to have great fun screaming along the coast and more fun short-handed passage racing), then she could be a great choice.
Usually, speed means running along a knife-edge – one minute you’re grinning like a fool, pushing the envelope of control, while the next you’re retrieving waterlogged pieces of a spinnaker and looking an expensive repair bill square in the eyes.
The J/99, however, has speed, stacks of it, but it’s effortless.
At 8 knots we might as well have been sailing at 4 knots for all the worry there was on board.
THE TEST VERDICT
Sailing the J/99 was a delight, and very easy.
Admittedly she did have brand new 3Di carbon sails, these add to her cost and performance, but even so she’ll be able to be sailed with the minimum of effort whatever sails you choose.
Neither boat nor crew were stressed while sailing at speeds few 32 foot cruisers reach.
With 12-16 knots TWS she was in her element. A bit more breeze and the smiles would have been even harder to remove from our faces.
Down below the space isn’t palatial, but it is practical.
It is basic and won’t suit everyone – after all, everyone has different thresholds of what they will put up with.
Likewise the finish down below wasn’t of the highest quality, but this was hull number one, and on deck the attention to detail was very good indeed.
She might not be a great cruising boat, but she will give her owners quick passage times and what you lose in comfort, you gain in easy, fast fun.
WOULD SHE SUIT YOU AND YOUR CREW?
When I go travelling I spend as little time in my hotel room as possible, so why pay more for 5 star luxury features I’m not going to take advantage of?
As long as the bed is comfortable and has the most basic of amenities I’m happy.
The same can be said for the J/99, she has the comfort and space where it’s needed: the saloon and the twin double aft cabins, but the minimum where it’s not.
If you’re port hopping, sailing or racing during the day and eating out in the evening, there is no need to carry a fully-furnished interior, a large weighty galley and tonnes of spare water you won’t use.
We can so easily get hung up on needing more to cruise, the more stuff we have, the more power we need, the bigger batteries, the extra charging which all weighs and slows the boat down.
If we can cut down on what we don’t need then we can discover the joy of sailing fast with the minimum of effort.
If you go on the water to enjoy sailing, shouldn’t the sailing bit take priority over comfort?
The full test is available in the May 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly