North Sails NEWS

May 24, 2017

The J Class represents an incredible blend of classic yacht and the latest advancements in modern technology

© Amory Ross

The J Class has its roots in the oldest sporting event in the world, The America’s Cup. In 1929 Sir Thomas Lipton, owner of Lipton’s (famous for his import of Lipton Tea from India), issued his fifth challenge to the Americans for the America’s Cup. He commissioned the build of the first J Class Yacht which signified the start of a new era in design evolution and racing.

The Universal Rule came into effect in 1930. The size of a yacht was determined (by waterline length) and this was shown as an alphabetical list. “J” signified yachts with a waterline length of between 75 to 87 feet. The addition of the newly designed Bermuda mast allowed the yachts to carry a huge sail plan. Nothing so large and “awesome” had been built previously.

The J Class yachts raced under the Universal Rule throughout the 1930s, which used waterline length, displacement and sail area to control the racing condition and rating of these Formula One racing yachts of their day.

Now in the present day, there is a mixture of refitted surviving yachts along with a number of new yachts built to original hull lines. Even more are planned to be built in the future. So a specific J Class handicap system was developed in order to enable all yachts built to J Class designs to race against each other regardless of size, sail area or hull construction.

The new rule is a VPP (Velocity Prediction Program) based rating system which puts limits on the performance. The aim of the J-Class Association (JCA) and the rule is to bring fair and close racing to the fleet and to give all designs a chance of winning on a handicap based system ensuring competitive, exciting and unique racing wherever this fleet goes. Combining unprecedented experience and heritage in the class, North Sails is the leading sailmaker of the J Class fleet. Reinforcing the relationship further, this year North Sails also becomes the Official Sailmaking Partner of the J Class Association.

© Amory Ross
© Amory Ross
© Amory Ross