Last year J/Boats' J/92 walked away with the Overall BOTY honors. The J/130, a scaled-up version, has taken the best attributes of that design and packaged them with enhanced comfort and improved performance, and come up a winner as well.
When the panelists test-sailed this boat, they lined up against two all-out IMS race boats, and the comparison was impressive. Upwind and down this simply rigged 43 footer matched strides most of the time against its racing brethren, with half the crew and half the effort expended.
The comparison to its own category rivals was a more difficult task. With 12 boats entered, several panelists felt that the Multi-Purpose Club Racer group - a category that Carl Schumacher told us was "about compromise" - made for the tightest race in the entire contest. However, it was the J/130's amalgam of attributes which won the panel over and prompted Sally Lindsay to call the boat "an elegant answer to a complex compromise category."
The phrase "ease of handling" was a common theme in each judge's assessment of the J/130. Most pointed to the boat's clean, functional, and user-friendly cockpit and rig as the basis for this. Lindsay felt that, among its peers, the J/130 would be best for "intense club racing, shorthanded sailing, and coastal cruising."
And Phil Steggall emphasized the versatility of the boat, ascribing it to the designer and builder's making "the most of modern technology in terms of sail handling and layout." He called it "truly a multi-purpose boat" at a reasonable price.
From his perch adjacent to the 54-inch wheel, Scott Graham commended the "fingertip control" of the helm upwind, and offered that the boat had "a cruisable, well-done interior layout." Ed Adams went further, saying that the boat's "racecourse potential isn't handicapped by its dual-purpose nature." Adams did caution, however, that getting so large a spinnaker back aboard at a leeward mark would by no means be child's play.
Graham summarized the panel's choice, calling the J/130's interior inviting, the cockpit comfortable, and the construction well executed. Said Graham, "It's unusual to get so much nearly dead right on a single-purpose, custom-built one-off. To do this in a multi-purpose, affordable production boat with a pleasing appearance and enjoyable, even exciting, sailing characteristics is a great achievement."