J-Class update

A new handicap system, two new boats in build and a complete list of all the J-Class yachts that have ever existed

Wednesday March 19th 2008, Author: David Pittman, Location: United Kingdom
Following the busy racing schedule of both Ranger and Velsheda during the last few seasons, there has been an explosion of interest in the J Class. With two new replicas under construction, the J Class Association (JCA) has issued a definitive list of J yachts from history which can be built as replica new builds under their rules. This provides a listing of interesting historical data and details of yachts currently sailing, under construction and reserved for build.

New handicap system

The Class has also commissioned a new handicap system, developed by the Wolfson Unit at Southampton University. This new JCA system is based on VPP calculations and will be validated from towing tank results from the 1930s prepared initially in a report for Harold S Vanderbilt, who went on to commission the build of the 1937 Ranger. This comprehensive document has been made available by the Sparkman and Stephens USA office to the JCA.

Bruce Johnson, Chief Designer at the S&S office, stated: “We are pleased to be working with the J Class Association and Wolfson Unit for this research project and we are happy to share this report of tank test results, to further validate the rating process for the J Class.”

This information, from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, has provided the vital cross check for the Wolfson Unit to complete the figures for accurate handicapping of the Js, in the interests of fair racing and good sportsmanship on the race course. It is intended that races will be won on the water with this new system, minimising discrepancies in handicap ratings.

John Robinson from the Wolfson Unit stated: “Development of this custom system based on historic design information, specific to the J Class and the results of tank testing from 1930s, gives us a fairer system than that based on the regression data from more modern hull forms already held within the VPP.”

New yachts under construction



Endeavour II was one of the largest J yacht hulls ever built and the replica is now well on its way towards completion at Royal Huisman Shipyard in Holland. The yacht is due to launch in late 2008. Gerard Dijkstra & Partners are design consultants for this project. It will feature a one-piece carbon mast, advanced deck layout and interior design by Pieter Beeldsnijder Design.




Lionheart is based on accurate lines plans from the Ranger 77F model which was never built. Andre Hoek is the design consultant for this project, based from their offices in Edam, Holland. Designed for cruising as well as racing, she is being built to MCA classification. Her deck layout shows two small deck houses with sleek and low profiles, as well as two small cockpit areas.

Lionheart is well ahead of schedule and her aluminium hull was turned just recently in preparation for the fitting out process. She is being built at Claasen Shipyard in Holland.

With these two new yachts likely to launch in the coming year, the JCA fleet is set to double in size. With the sheer size, sail area, crew, complexity, cost and commitment, this is certainly the most exciting class of thoroughbred yachts in the world. Further build projects are under discussion for design and build.

J Class Racing

Both Velsheda and Ranger will be competing in Antigua Classic Regatta, from 18-22 April. They are closely matched in performance, both in speed and on handicap, so it is likely to provide exciting racing for both yachts and spectators. Nelson’s old lookout position at Shirley Heights, above the windward mark, will be the place to watch the yachts.

Both yachts are also expected to compete at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Porto Cervo, Sardinia on 1-6 September where the racing through the many islands will again prove a test of nerves for these yachts which draw 4.7 metres (16 feet).

All the Js...

Yacht Sail no Nat Original owner Original designer Original built Replica built Status
WHIRLWIND J3 USA syndicate L. Francis Herreshof 1930
YANKEE J2 USA syndicate Frank C. Paine 1930
WEETAMOE J4 USA syndicate Clinton Crane 1930
ENTERPRISE J1 USA Harold S. Vanderbilt W.Starling Burgess 1930 JCA build slot reserved
SHAMROCK V JK3 UK Sir Thomas Lipton Charles Nicholson 1930 Original sailing
VELSHEDA JK7 UK W. Stephenson Charles Nicholson 1933 Original sailing
ENDEAVOUR JK4 UK T.O.M. Sopwith Charles Nicholson 1934 Original sailing
RAINBOW USA Harold S.Vanderbilt W Starling Burgess 1934
ENDEAVOUR II JK6 HANUMAN UK T.O.M. Sopwith Charles Nicholson 1937 2008 Replica under construction
RANGER 77C-20 J5 USA Harold S. Vanderbilt Burgess/Stephens 1937 2002 Replica sailing
RANGER 77C-E MODEL Front of C-Aft of E Not Built Burgess/Stephens
RANGER 77A MODEL Not Built Burgess/Stephens
RANGER 77B MODEL Not Built Burgess/Stephens
RANGER 77D MODEL Not Built Burgess/Stephens
RANGER 77E MODEL Not Built Burgess/Stephens
RANGER 77F MODEL (J-H1) LIONHEART Not Built Burgess/Stephens 2008 Replica under construction
SVEA S1 Sweden Started, not finished Tore Holm 1938
Frank C Paine A USA Not Built Frank C Paine JCA - build slot reserved
Frank C Paine B USA Not Built Frank C Paine
Yachts converted to J class
BRITANNIA K1 UK King George V George L. Watson 1893 Scuttled 1936
RESOLUTE H2 USA Harold S Vanderbilt Nathanial G. Hershoff 1914
KATOURA J1 USA Robert E Tod W.Starling Burgess 1914
CAMBRIA K4 UK Sir William Berry William Fife 1928 Original sailing
ASTRA K2 UK Sir Mortimer Singer Charles Nicholson 1928 Original sailing
CANDIDA K8 UK Herman Andrea Charles Nicholson 1932 Original sailing

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