SAILING WORLD Magazine
"LESS IS MORE, AGAIN"
The evolution of boat design works on a cross fertilization of ideas between the worlds of racing and cruising, monohulls and multihills, planing hulls and displacement hulls, ancient and modern. New ideas are rare, but new combinations of proven ideas are common. Even so, once in a while a boat exhibits a combination of proven ideas in such a way that it deserves to be called unique. The J/105 is such a boat - it's a return to the notion that a simple sailplan, clean deck layout, practical interior, and high performance are the best ingredients for both racing and cruising. It's a return also to the idea that a boat's looks can be as tangibly important as its interior volume.
During the 1980s this particular idea mix was more or less forgotten. Elements of the mix appeared once in a while, like Carl Schumacher's Express 34, which stemmed the rising tide of plush, C-shaped settees with a spare interior trimmed nicely in light wood; and his Alerion Express, which flatly rejected volume in favor of beauty. Bill Lee's Santa Cruz boats were similarly basic down below. The "high speed for the whole family" element was addressed by Ian Farrier's F-27 design for Corsair Marine. And envelope-pushing boats like the International 14, the Ultimate 30, and the BOC and IACC racers, as well as so many multihulls over the years, have proven the effectiveness of asymmetrical spinnakers and bow-launching poles. But all these ideas are brought together forcefully in one package by the J/105.
"MAXIMUM SPEED-TO-COST RATIO"
The J/105 is a two person one-design sport cruiser that will keep up with a fully crewed racing boat. In the J/105 (10.5 meters LOA) designer Rod Johnstone has gone for high end power and an interior that is as simple as possible to provide the maximum speed-to-cost ratio.
The boat has low freeboard for minimal wind resistance, a low center of gravity, and the look of speed that Johnstone likes. Although the overall beam is not extreme, there is a lot of flare in the topsides, and the waterline is quite narrow. There is also very little below the waterline, so wetted surface is minimal. The keel is a bulb to enhance stability. And with a very simple and light interior, the 105's displacement is a lean and hungry 8,500 pounds. Most striking of all the J/105's features, though, is the retractable bowsprit and the big asymmetric spinnaker it sets. A crew of two can manage it, and one can gybe it.
I sailed the 105 in light conditions and found the asymmetric sail fun to set and trim. It was more docile than a conventional chute and got us up to wind speed at 90 degrees apparent-faster when we turned farther downwind.