LOA 34.5 ft LWL 29.5 ft Beam 11.0 ft Draft 6.5 ft Displ. 7,750 lbs Ballast 3,400 lbs Sail Area 577 sq ft Designer: Rod Johnstone
ithin the USA, the J/105 remains one of the most successful one-design keelboat classes in the over-30-ft range, with major fleets located in Chicago, Annapolis, San Diego, Houston, Marblehead, Cleveland, Seattle and San Francisco. There are two international fleets: the J/105 Canada Class in Toronto, Ontario, and the J/105 Chile Class. Says J/Boats executive Stuart Johnstone, "We also 'technically' have fleets on the Solent in the UK and the Netherlands, but rarely more than five to six vessels show up for events." San Francisco J/105 Fleet 1 lists 73 member boats, which makes it the largest, and likely most active, one-design fleet on the Bay. What's the recipe for success? Much of it starts with an invention in 1991. A Design for Success In the late 1980s/early '90s, having routinely participated in the Ultimate Yacht Race series for Ultimate 30s and International 14s, Rhode Island brothers Stuart and Peter Johnstone got an idea to create a keelboat that relied on the same simple bowsprit plus asymmetrical headsail combo as these two boats — not an outlandish notion for members of the J/Boats legacy known for their top-selling models, the J/24 (introduced in 1977) and J/22 (introduced in 1983). In 1990 the duo approached their 63-year-old father, Bob. "Fast is fun when it's easy!" says Stuart Johnstone. "So, our next design was either going to be a 23-ft J/70 or the 34.5ft J/105. My dad won that debate since he wanted to sail in comfort both offshore and around the buoys. We initiated design on the J/105 in 1991." An interesting tidbit — the J/105 design was also based on input from the late Sir Peter Page 82 •
• February, 2017
Blake. Adds Johnstone, "We were engaged in working on a J/65 offshore racer for the Whitbread Race (Volvo Ocean Race). Every time we ran the J/65 design through Peter's global weather model it got faster. In other words, the design got beamier and flatter aft." Requirements for that J/65's offshore, fast-reaching machine ended up shaping parameters for the J/105, as well as an eventual J/65 cruiser, a custom-build model. Twenty-five years later and the J/105 remains incredibly popular, surpassed in sales only within the last three years (in the 35- to 37-ft marketplace) by the J/111 model. Globally, more than 680 J/105 boats can be counted. What started off as a vision to be a fun offshore PHRF boat, easily handled by five or six crew, has become a one-design class with longevity. Johnstone says, "We see strong ongoing demand for its purchase as a used boat, and the investment is not only affordable but preserves its value. In Europe it has become a de facto single- or doublehanded boat in IRC/ORC events in the RORC and European offshore circuit. The J/105 has won the Fastnet Race in the 2H class three times, plus several RORC channel races. Crews have campaigned J boats to wins in the Transpac race in doublehanded, as well as full crew, divisions on more than one occasion." Lore and Legacy of a First: Fleet 1 Fleet 1 was formed in 1994 by Don Trask, the J/Boats dealer in Alameda, plus Art Ball and Chris Corlett, who sold and promoted the boat. Today, the group is very active in local racing, and major regattas can draw 25 or more boats to the start line. Crews race year-round with tier 'A' and 'B' events.
"I used to chase the boys, now I pass them." 'A' events require that the boat be weighed by the fleet measurer. 'A' events stipulate a weight limit of 1,044 pounds, and there is a limit of no more than two or three new sails per year, alternating. Additionally, the skipper must be an owner (with some rare exceptions). The class permits only Category 1 sailors (non-professionals), although a full owner may be a Category 3 sailor (professional). 'B' events are not governed by the same requirements. One veteran skipper/owner is Theresa Brandner, owner of Walloping Swede. A dedicated 'A' series racer, Brandner has competed right up to 8.5 months into a pregnancy. And once her daughter was born she joined after only two months. Tucked safely below within line of sight, she always responded with a squeal of happiness when her mom talked to her from the