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J/122 Articles & Reviews
J/122 Sea Trials - Hamble, UK
After 12 months of design and construction and a dedicated effort by the staff at J/Europe, the new J/122 successfully debuted at the Paris boatshow in early December to rave reviews from J/Owners, dealers & show goers. By the end of the show twenty J/122s were on order with several destined for the US and UK.
The original schedule was to launch and sea-trial hull #2 in February in Florida but with momentum for the J/122 building quickly out of the show it was decided to launch and test sail hull #1 during the short 9-day window between the Paris and London Boatshows in mid-December.
The J/122 was shipped directly to Hamble, UK from Paris and immediately rigged by our UK distributor Paul Heys and his team. What followed was a rare three days of sun, moderate temperatures & 6 -20 knot winds on the Solent in December, a respite from the 50-60 knot winds of the previous weekend and the record fog that blanketed the area just following the sea-trials and prior to the Christmas holiday. The weekend weather simply could not have been any better, and so the several J/owners and local sailors who were able to join us on the new J/122 had a double treat.
Day 1: Rod Johnstone & I arrive at Hamble after a delayed flight from Boston and 90 minute ride from Gatwick to Hamble. We quickly change into sailing attire, and are picked up by J-UK’s Marie-Claude Heys for the quick drive down to the yard to meet the crew for the first day of sailing. The J/122 sits in her slip floating perfectly level on her lines…soon the entire crew is onboard and we set off from the dock.
The 122 manages the tight quarters of the docks in expert fashion responding quickly to each movement of the helm. It’s about a mile run down the river under power and there are no installed instruments on board but the Volvo engine with saildrive & geared folding prop purrs quietly as the boat slices through the chilly December water.
As we reach the convergence of the Hamble River with the Solent we throttle down and the crew makes quick work of hoisting the main. Wind is 6-8 knots, flat water, and sun is shining with blue sky. The boat accelerates when the large 110% jib is unfurled and we set the sheets. The motor is shut down. Everything gets quiet and the boat is slipping through the water with barely a sound. The boat goes through her first tack and quickly accelerates with a 10 knot puff … How’s she feel? I ask Rod… “She feels great!”…. After about 10 minutes I ask for the helm and Rod relinquishes. There is a familiar light touch and response on the wheel that I’m used to feeling on every J/Boat and she seems to accelerate quickly in the puffs. After a few more minutes and a tack, I offer up the helm to another crew member.
We sail back and forth in the narrow channel at the mouth of the river for the next 2 hours in 8-10 knots of breeze with each crew member getting a turn on the helm and then we hoist the small J/124 A-sail and head back toward the dock for lunch. For the afternoon session we’ll have several more local J/Boat owners on hand, more wind, as well as a photo boat.
The afternoon sail is in a bit more wind with a somewhat consistent 10 knots and puffs to 14. The boat moves through the water without effort and we take several pictures to later publish on the J/122 web site. The non overlapping headsail makes tacking very simple and the unique Furlex TD furler allows for maximum luff length while preventing the need for a large hole in the foredeck as is the case with most below-deck furler installations. This is a cool piece of hardware. The borrowed J/124 asymmetric spinnaker was a bit small for gauging downwind performance, but the handling of the boat downwind is smooth and easy. With the comfortable interior accommodations and the optional dock box to close off the transom, I can easily imagine extended cruising with my family aboard this boat.
Day 2: It looks like perfect October sailing weather in the middle of December, 50 deg. Wind 12-16 out of the southwest. After a morning of careful measurements to document the rig set-up, mast butt location, freeboards etc, the rest of the crew meets us on the dock at 11:00 AM. No photos to take, no schedule, just pack lunch and go for an extended sail. Today, rather than short tacking up the busy channel outside the Hamble River, we decide to set the A-sail and head out into the Solent. The main goes up and then the spinnaker and we quickly make tracks as the strong current helps to push us to the east. It’s a long starboard tack reach with A-sail and we trade crew positions along the way. It’s noon time and the sun is very low in the sky and stays at this elevation most of the day moving slowly east to west.
The question arises from one of the owners, “We’ll be sailing our boat double handed. Is the A-sail really manageable by a crew of only two?” For the next five minutes Rod & I demonstrate several jibes without additional help. Then we trade positions for a few more.
The long reach and jibe demonstration then ends with a spinnaker douse in 15 knots of wind and we turn upwind. The boat again behaves and balances very well as we test different sail trim settings and make minor rig adjustments on each tack. The helm position works perfectly with large foot rests on each side of the molded pedestal. We hit some big chop from a passing powerboat and the boat slices through it and recovers quickly. The breeze comes up and we pump the easy-to-reach pedestal mounted handle for the hydraulic backstay to depower the rig. Not much in the way of boats to speed test against and we have no instruments so it is all about the feel, and there is consistent, positive feedback from all. As we get closer to the river the wind dies down to 4 knots and with each puff the boat ghosts along smartly to the entrance.
More dockside photos and some coffee on the dock wraps up another day of test sailing with the new J/122. Later that afternoon our builder and project partner Didier Le Moal of J/Europe arrives after a well deserved weekend of rest and we share with him the CD full of sailing photos from the day and our first hand experiences sailing the boat. Didier manages the J/Europe facility in France, and is responsible for executing a fantastic result.
A special note of thanks to Paul & Marie-Claude Heys and their team for making this successful trial sail weekend a reality.
Offshore Sailing Performance
J/122 is a 40’ sloop conceived as a versatile, stable and simple-to-sail modern cruiser & racer. Achieving this elusive and sometimes conflicting design goal requires a combination of simple and efficient sail handling systems, balanced rig plan, high quality hardware, light but durable construction materials, a low VCG keel, versatile deck layout and a refined performance hull with enough volume for a comfortable interior arrangement.
J/122 is built by J/Europe of Les Sables d’Olonne in France, an area rich with sailing history and experienced boat builders. She is CE certified category A, and hull & deck are SCRIMP molded with e-glass and vinylester resin with balsa and foam core materials respectively. An extensive SCRIMP molded structural grid supports the keel and mast loads as well as the interior components. This infusion molding process insures the lightest and strongest molded parts and is far superior to hand lay-up or chopper gun construction. All J/122 interior components are of high grade cold molded veneers and marine grade veneered plywood with varnished finish. Each new J/122 is delivered with a 5 year factory structural warranty and 10 year warranty against osmotic gelcoat blistering.
Priority in the interior design is given to creating adequate headroom, cabin functionality, storage, ventilation, as well as a large salon area, an efficient galley and a proper forward facing navigation station. The heaviest interior system components, like the engine, batteries, galley icebox, engine, fuel & water tanks, etc… are all centralized as much as possible in the boat in an effort to reduce pitching. The interior layout for the J/122 comes in two configurations. Standard is a three cabin single head layout and as an option there is a two cabin two head layout. In both cases the main salon, navigation, and galley areas remain unchanged.
Rig & Stability
It is important that a “non-overlapping” rig configuration like the J/122 is designed with enough power and acceleration for decent performance in light conditions while not having so much power (or rig height) that the boat becomes easily overpowered in heavy conditions. It is a tight rope of compromises requiring a match of rig height, sail area, ballast, draft, form stability and overall vertical center of gravity (VCG).
J/122 combines modest 7.2’ draft with a low VCG keel and 61.5’ tall Hall Spars carbon mast. The balanced fractional rig configuration has a pair of swept spreaders with discontinuous shrouds terminating at the deck edge. This allows for a maximum 110% LP racing jib or 100% LP jib for all-purpose cruising and negates the need for running backstays or checkstays. The jib is set on a standard headsail furling system for easy handling with furling drum located below deck to allow maximum jib luff length. Each of these features help to simplify life for the crew and clean up the deck layout while maximizing performance.
Bow Sprit & Asymmetrics
The simplicity of sailing the J/122 is complimented by the standard asymmetrical spinnaker system and includes a retracting carbon fiber bowsprit contained in a watertight interior compartment draining overboard. The largest A-sail size recommended for the boat is 155 sqm or 1,668 sqft and is flown from the masthead mounted spinnaker halyard sheave. Two adults can easily jibe the full size spinnaker without leaving the cockpit and an added snuffer can help simplify and contain the douse when it becomes necessary. Set up the boat with a smaller cruising A-sail and it’s nearly as effective and even easier to manage.
Priority is given on deck to a helm position that allows visibility of the headsail and forward beyond the bow in a comfortable as well as secure offshore cockpit. Highlights of the design include an open transom cockpit with two long cockpit seats each with a storage compartment and tall backrest. The floor mounted main traveler is intended to make traversing this cockpit easy while maintaining the essential mainsail controls near to the helm. All halyards lead from the mast to the cockpit as do the adjustable jib lead controls, furler and bowsprit controls etc... An efficient Harken hardware layout is an essential ingredient and has been carefully thought-out by many experienced sailors on the J/122. A hydraulic backstay adjuster panel is centrally mounted on the forward face of the steering pedestal for easy control of mast bend and mainsail shape.
For cruising, the J/122 deck also offers some unique features. The removable “dock box” option is designed to fit securely in place behind the helm to effectively close off the cockpit aft to the sea. This feature has proven very popular with the J/109 and provides extra security and cockpit storage for cruising trips and more casual outings with family and friends. For race mode, two can lift it out and leave it on the dock storing the heavy cruising gear inside. Other J/122 cruising features include a standard anchor and rode locker forward on deck, an optional windlass with bow roller combination, several standard opening ports and hatches for important below-decks ventilation, a swim ladder and a clean cockpit dodger solution.
The Volvo D2 40hp fresh water cooled diesel engine with saildrive is standard with a folding geared propeller. This motor powers the J/122 between 7.0 – 7.5 knots and features a keyless start switch, 70amp AGM glass mat start battery, and a 115 amp alternator. A 35 gallon fuel tank is standard. Two additional 80amp house batteries are AGM Glass Mat type and divided through the DC electrical system.
J/122 Class Association
There are currently 65 J/122s sailing in 12 countries around the world, with J/122 fleets existing in America and Europe.
The J/122 Class sails extensively in the Northeast of America and in the sailing regions of southern England (Solent) and France (Bay of Biscay).
If your looking for a great class to get involved in, look no further than the J/122.
J/122 Class Association Highlights
National Class Association Links
J/122 Tuning Guide Links
Proven Offshore Performance + Fast + Easy-to-Sail
The J/122 is designed to be a fun, fast, efficient racing and cruising sailboat that can be sailed by a couple, double-handed or with a full compliment of crew on-board. To give you a better idea of the process behind its thoughtful design and why 122 owners love it so much, read the "Design Notes" or comments about its inaugural sail on the Solent in "Seatrial".
Developed with and built by J/Europe in France, J/122 is distinguished by a well executed high quality interior, a non-overlapping sailplan configuration that helps simplify the deck layout and sail selection. A setback headstay with furler are recessed into the deck to maximize the jib luff length while retaining the convenience of jib furling from the cockpit. Plus, the simplicity of an asymmetric spinnaker flown from a retractable carbon bow sprit, that makes it easy to achieve near peak performance with minimal crew effort.
The J/122 cockpit is ergonomically optimized with a floor mounted traveler, below decks mainsheet system, offshore seatbacks, remote backstay adjuster and an available removable transom storage dock box that allows one to increase cockpit storage for cruising or convert back to a lighter race mode in a matter of minutes.
Two interior plans are available: a three cabin/forward head layout and the more traditional two cabin/two head cruising layout; both layouts finished in varnished light mahogany.
Several option packages, tailored to specific cruising and racing needs are available. Several key features of the US Model include:
- Standard Hall Spars carbon fiber mast with swept spreaders, rod rigging and below deck jib furling system.
- Standard Sparcraft Grand-Prix aluminum boom with internal mainsheet system
- Standard Carbon fiber bow sprit and Asymmetric spinnaker system for short-handed performance and ease of handling.
- Low VCG 7.2’ (2.2m) keel for short-handed stability.
- Low maintenance deck configuration with molded foredeck toe rails, hi-traction non-skid and minimum use of wood for low maintenance. Included is a large protected cockpit with long seats and high backrests combined with a floor mounted mainsail traveler, below-deck mainsheet system, and a large diameter leather covered wheel mounted to a steering pedestal with integrally molded foot rests for a very comfortable helm ergonomic.
- Choice of three cabin/single head or two cabin/two head interior layout with full headroom for live-aboard cruising, complete galley, proper navigation station, opening ports for ventilation and plenty of storage.
- Removable dock box option at transom for easy race/cruise conversion.