SAIL Magazine Review


Edited by Charles Mason

Delivering a new level of performance is a tall order, especially for a first design.

But, Al Johnstone learned the trade well from his father, Rod, and the J/32, the first J Boat with Al's name on it, promises to be a valued addition to the J Boats family.

The boat is fast and easy for two people to sail.

Construction of both hull and deck utilizes the SCRIMP® resin infusion system; the laminate schedules include unidirectional, biaxial, and triaxial fibers. Baltek balsa core is used in both the hull and deck; a floor grid is fused directly to the hull to create additional strength.

Johnstone has resisted the urge to jam a lot of bunks belowdeck. The single stateroom/single head aft combination, with two settees in the main cabin for kids or visiting firemen, is a nice blend.

I had the opportunity to spend four days sailing the boat, and what fun days they were. Although the J/32 might be considered stiff by some, I liked this characteristic, because it allows the boat to accelerate out of a tack efficiently.

Part of the secret- the cockpit is efficient, and visibility from the helm is good even with the dodger up. The mainsheet tackle system is double-ended and easy to handle.

No 32 footer without davits can solve the dinghy-stowage problem perfectly, but there is more than enough locker space in the cockpit for an inflatable, scuba tanks, or other gear.

The J/32 will fit your needs for weekend-plus cruising.

-Robby Robinson


Interview with Tom Linskey -Owner of J/32 Hull #57

By Dana Paxton

Subscribing to the theory that "smaller is better," Tom Linskey and his wife Harriet purchased their J/32 "Independence" to serve as the next vessel in a long line of cruising boats that have taken the Linskeys to exotic and fascinating places around the world.

Tom, describe a little of your sailing background?
TL: My wife and I grew up on a bunch of dinghies and my Dad had a couple of race boats. Independence was a Yankee 38 Sparkman & Stephens design. We started with two Coronado 25s. I guess you could say that we were a typical West Coast family.

What boat did you own before the J/32?
TL: A Bristol Channel Cutter. It was 28 feet on deck and a great long-distance cruiser. It was stable and could carry a lot of stuff but didn't go to windward very well. We actually built it in our backyard in Costa Mesa, California. It took five years to build. I was collecting wheel weights from garages and having them melted down for ballast. It was pretty much a slow project.

What kind of sailing did you do?
TL: We did a lot of cruising. Went to Mexico from California across to the South Pacific and then to Australia and Japan, where we worked for a while. We sold it there and moved back to New England. We were gone from the States for a total of nine years.

What were you looking for in your next boat?
TL: We wanted a boat that was quicker, sailed better and more modern. With my job at SAIL magazine (Tom was the senior editor) I sailed every new boat on the market in the past five years between 25 and 45 feet.

Why the J32?
TL: The J32 sails well and makes sense to me. J Boats didn't try to cram a huge aft berth in the boat, which would raise up the cockpit. The cockpit is deep and secure and we love it. With the lockers you have great storage. We can put our toolboxes, etc. in there. The hard dinghy is on foredeck, but its sailing rig and eight fenders are also aboard. You need that kind of storage.

What particular sailing features do you like?
TL: It's a fast boat and goes great upwind. What first attracted me was the feel on the helm. When you really push the boat (in windier conditions), it doesn't spin out. When a boat is too wide they round up, but this boat is a moderate boat with the beam in the middle of the boat. It's really fun to drive.

What are your sailing plans?
TL: Last summer we sailed around Buzzards Bay [Mass.] and did a few 2-3 day local cruises getting to know the boat. We're both a little rusty since we sold the last boat in '91. We shouldn't have waited so long to buy another boat! We want to go up to Maine this year to get in some more cruising.

So is smaller really better?
TL: Definitely. When we were cruising we were always one of the smaller boats out there. All the others would say, "You two are either brave, crazy or stupid." We thought people on larger boats were all of those things! We can handle our boat. There are no huge systems to keep track of. We like small boats. A big boat is like driving a truck. On a big boat you can let off the mainsail and not really feel it. On the J32 everything you do has a great feel.

Robinson Family Cruise/Delivery aboard J/32 Hull #1

By Robbie Robinson

Dark green, marbled leather, red bound, the log book sat on the shelf above the port settee. "Feel free to christen it," said the note from Al Johnstone. We were taking the J/32, hull number 1 and Al’s first full-blown design for J/Boats, from Newport, RI to McMichael’s Yacht Yard in Mamaroneck, NY. Like everything else aboard WHISTLER, the book was shiny and new. Somehow I never brought myself to make the first mark on its blank pages. They taught me in nautical scribe school that log style writing did not produce great reading, but WHISTLER and our cruise/delivery aboard her were exceptional enough that maybe I can just tell you what happened and leave it at that.

Sunday---We were planning to come aboard mid-day and get some miles under us so that we might relax a bit along the way to our Thursday-noon delivery deadline for arrival in Mamaroneck. Rain, forty-fifty knot gusts out of the northeast, and the warmth of a homeside fire made us scrub that plan and wait to see what Monday might bring.

Monday—Lowering skies, spits of rain…not much of a sailing day in the remains of the northeaster. We tarried and scurried alternately and arrived in Newport about 1500. After Al checked us out and we stopped for ice and ice cream cones (my crew at the beginning was my 24-year-old daughter Elizabeth), before we were dropped aboard by the Ida Lewis launch. We tried to re-adjust the spring tension in the Quik-Vang as Al had requested, but the vice grips were broken. We shrugged and decided to cast off.

1700—Elizabeth threaded us through the anchorage under main alone toward Fort Adams. While we’d been running around the clouds had broken and we were treated to a low-lit golden harbor exit in lively 15-knot puffs; the northwester had filled in behind the departing storm. Waves were minimal in the protection of the harbor. Rounding close around Fort Adams our only neighbor was a 28-footer, half-a-mile ahead, stemming the current in mid-channel. We hugged the Newport shore to lessen the foul tide. Elizabeth drove while I tried to find a course for Block Island. In two miles or less we put the little boat half-a-mile astern. I told Elizabeth it was the brilliance of staying out of the current.

The "mother-in-law" house, Hammersmith Farm, Castle Hill, I regaled my captive daughter with unwanted details about each, and we were out East Passage. Sliding in relatively smooth water beneath the Rhode Island shore toward Point Judith we held our course, played G-H-O-S-T (a tie), and marvelled at boatspeed numbers around from 8.8 - 9.2. "This 32-footer really IS fast," we thought until we figured out that we were actually looking at the apparent wind reading.

I decoded the instruments before we sighted the flashing green on the bouy off Sandy Point on the top of Block Island. The breeze had dropped to single digits on the quarter. We powered in, picking the buoys out in the moonlight, to tie up at a deserted Champlain’s Dock in Great Salt Pond about 2000.

Tuesday—1000—Taking care of a diesel fill-up and harbor dues (an off-season bargain at $20) we turned left at the harbor mouth bell to make for Long Island Sound. The dying norther on our quarter pushed us at about 5 knots, so we sailed to Watch Hill where it quit. A brief stint under power (6-plus-knots at a conservative 2400 rpm) pointed in behind Fisher’s Island ("to duck the current again, Daddy?" asked Elizabeth with wide eyed sarcasm) and rolled out the jib to meet the new sou’wester. Motorsailing through Wicopesset Passage into Fisher’s Island Sound we encountered three knots of current (but not the 5.2 predicted by Eldridge for the Race). The estates and tidy "garden cottages" rolled by to weather and we threaded inside South Dumpling to leave the island behind an hour and a half later. Elizabeth made roast beef sandwiches on bread spread with dill humus. "Fisher’s Island burgers" we called them.

1500 We had arranged to call Carol (Elizabeth’s mother, my wife) on the radio/tel. To arrange a rendezvous. Making miles toward Mamaroneck was still important, so we told her to meet us at Clinton and hoped we could close the 25 miles still to go before dark. All afternoon while Elizabeth slept under her sleeping bag in the cockpit I fiddled with sail controls and tried to coax Whistler into her on-the-wind best. It was a close fetch along the Connecticut shore, moderate sea, puffs in the teens. With her small cruising jib and jumbo main, the J-32 presented me with an unfamiliar combination. 

She balanced up nicely with the wheel brake set, and I walked around trying to maximize the (now reliable knotmeter). The over-tensioned vang spring was a problem, but I got the trim-stripes on the main to smooth out, the leech tell-tales to fly, (with as much backstay tension as I dared apply). The jib was no problem. Even with approximate lead settings it pulled well and broke evenly.

It was heavy dusk under blue-black clouds and spitting rain, but we got to Clinton at 1830, ten minutes before Carol.

1900—"Cruising in the rain. This should be lots of fun." Grimaced Carol as she settled aboard. I nestled in a corner and watched my crew bustle about the galley. Whether it was the elbow room, the efficient stowage, or the thought of cruising with an oven, both seemed to perk up as they worked. Mother-daughter meals aren’t necessarily always elegant, but Carol had picked up lobsters on her way down, and this one was. The ports were steamed and the downpour drummed on the coach while we dipped our claws in the common frypan ("I didn’t bring anything to put the butter in") and wiped our chins.

2130—Elizabeth drove home, and Carol and I settled in. I’d slept in the main cabin, but now Carol and I moved forward. Compared to the other "master" beds of our long-lived marriage, this one rated well toward the top.


We saw what there is to see of Clinton, bought two more bags of ice, paid the $25 for a protected night at the town pier, and were on our way.

1330—Falkner’s Island was in our way. Bear off around it? Pinch up inside it? Neither looked good in the still-kicking sou’wester. Finally I treated the inboard buoy like a weather mark. Short-tacking on the lifts was obscenely easy with the cruising jib, and we made the short course in good time. This boat makes it hard not to do the right thing.

1500---It was a little late for lunch, but we’d been holding off for the Thimble Islands. Main alone took us into the middle of the labyrinth where, touching mud just once, we found a spot to anchor and devour the remains of roast beef…fried up with onions and served on buns warmed in the oven. Carol handled the anchoring with a minimum of the normal frustration. I pulled it easily aboard after lunch and we went on.

1800---Off New Haven we made the choice of Milford as our target. With light waning we powered into a sloppy (wind against the tide) slop. Quickly and dryly we covered the ground into "The Gulf" (that modestly-named bay at the mouth of the Indian River) and slid in the half-light into Milford Harbor and an empty slip.


0500—With 45 miles to go to Mamaroneck and "not later than noon" as our deadline, we left Milford early.

0600---We picked up a fair current. The northwest winds on our quarter were almost strong enough to warrant motorsailing, but we buzzed along under power alone.

0645—I rolled out the jib. It added a quarter knot to the six we were getting at 2600 rpm.

0730—I put up the main. Another quarter knot. With the help from the current we were getting there.

1100---We were abeam of Playland at Rye. Less than five miles and an hour to kill. We put up the cruising chute. By now the breeze was fitful, at best, from the Northwest. We made the rest of the trip in, ten minutes late, to tie up at McMichael’s.

Post script: Dear Al, I guess the worst thing I can say about your boat is that it has a tendency to encourage thoughts like "If I can fly like this, maybe I can walk on water too." With new cruising fantasies fired full blast, the conservative thing for me to do is head back to my catboat. Thanks and congratulations, Robby.


Sailing for Life in Better Sailboats

Sailing is the ultimate freedom, the experience of being at one with nature and the sea, powered only by the wind and one's imagination. It's one of the few "life sports" that offers both a relaxing escape as well as an invigorating challenge. You pick your level of comfort and excitement. Sailing is never the same twice - each time on the water with your sailboat is a unique adventure that can enrich friendships, strengthen family ties, and refresh one's own sense of well-being. How many other outdoor activities can be shared with three or more family generations?  It's been said there are two types of sailors in the world - the young and the young-at-heart.

What a Difference a J Makes

Fulfilling those sailing dreams starts with finding a sailboat that fits you - whether you aspire to sail close to home, cruise to distant shores, or take up the challenge of competitive sailing. Performance differences between sailboats are greater than differences between golf clubs, tennis rackets, skis or cars. A well-designed sailboat, like a good sports car, is an extension of its owner. It could take years of sailing other boats to learn the difference that good design and quality make to one's sailing enjoyment. Or, you can save time and take advantage of what we've designed into every "J."

J/121 Offshore Speedster for 5 or fewer Crew

J/121 offshore speedster sailing off Newport The J/121 is a 40’ offshore speedster that can be day raced or distance sailed by just 5 or fewer crew…. the best short-handed J ever…. capable of winning on any race track while also excelling in daysailing and weekend mode. J/121 redefines offshore sailboat racing as a recreation and shared adventure with friends - fulfilling the growing need to simplify life and reconnect with those you really want to sail with on a boat that’s pure magic to sail. Learn more about J/121 here.

Elegance, Comfort & Style- J/112E

J112E 01 19986J/112E is the newest “E” Series of sport-cruising yachts.  An Evolution of Elegant performance cruising design. This dual- purpose 36 footer has a spacious two-cabin layout and a roomy, comfortable,  cockpit.  Perfect for the annual club cruise, offshore racing or short-handed blue-water sailing.  Learn about J/112E here.

A Family-friendly One-Design & Daysailer - J/88

J88 SolarSailer cockpit 001 18209The J/88 combines big boat feel with sportsboat- like acceleration.  Add a weekend interior, inboard head, engine and huge cockpit and you have a versatile 29 footer.  Blistering upwind speed of 6.5 kts and trailblazing speed offshore means smiles all around as you collect both the silverware and priceless sailing memories. Learn more about J/88 here.

J/99 - Offshore Shorthanded Speedster

J70upwind 1117 665 400 80J/99 is the newest offshore speedster. It combines headroom and comfortable interior accommodation with the tiller-driven response of a sport boat. The sail and deck plan are optimized for easy handling with fewer crew, and incorporate the latest developments from the award-winning J/121 and the new Offshore Sailing World champion J/112E. Learn more about J/99 here.

J/70 - The Sportboat Changing Sailing

J70upwind 1117 665 400 80The J/70 speedster is a fun, fast, stable, 22 footer that can be towed behind a small SUV and ramped launched and rigged by two people.  J/70 sails upwind like her larger sibling (the J/80) and off the wind she simply flies - planing fast in moderate winds. With 1,400+ boats delivered worldwide, the choice is clear. Learn more about J/70 here.

J/Sailing Calendar 2020

JGear marquee 2018The Perfect Gift For People Who Love Sailing!
For 2020 we've created another beautiful calendar for J sailors who love the joys of sailing a J in some of the most spectacular harbors and waters of the world.  Whether you are a cruising, racing or armchair sailor, these stunning sailboat photographs will transport you to wonderful sailing experiences in far away places. 

The 2020 sailing calendar features photos of J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/99, J/111s, J/121, and J/122 sailing in some of the worlds most popular waters; such as Newport, Palma Mallorca, St Barths, Chicago, Chile, Switzerland, Torquay, Valle de Bravo, and Lago di Garda. A great gift for loved ones, family, friends and crew (see gallery here). Order your 2020 J/Calendar today!

Upcoming Sailing Events

Oct 11-12- J/80 Copa de Espana- Coruna, Spain
Oct 17-20- J/88 North American Championship- Rye, New York
Oct 18-20- J/105 Masters Regatta- San Diego, CA
Oct 19-26- J/24 World Championship- Coconut Grove, FL
Oct 19- Rolex Middle Sea Race- Gzira, Malta
Oct 25-27- J/24 East Coast Championship- Annapolis, MD
Oct 25-27- J/Fest Southwest- Lakewood, TX
Oct 25-27- J/105 Lipton Cup Regatta- San Diego, CA
Nov 1-4- French J/80 Championship- La Rochelle, France

Better Sailboats for People Who Love Sailing