By Sail Magazine
Although they don’t generally make it into print, there’s often a backstory to the boat tests we do at SAIL: case in point my sail trial of the J/9, winner in the “daysailer” category of SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats” awards. Checking the forecast before setting out from Boston for Newport, Rhode Island, it looked like we’d be in for a pretty spirited sail with windspeeds in the mid-20s. Sure enough, crossing the Sakonnet River Bridge it was blowing stink. Great! I thought, the perfect day to put a boat like the 28ft J/9—the first in a planned series of daysailers from J/Boats—through its paces.
The reason I was so happy to discover we were going to have a hatful of wind is that I was curious how the boat was going to fare in less-than-ideal conditions. Obviously, there are plenty of boats out there that can be used for “daysailing.” However, I would argue a true “daysailer” is not just a boat that can be used for the occasional afternoon jaunt, but a boat that takes care of its crew (including guests who might not be as thrilled about sailing with the boat on its ear as their host), in the same way a seakindly, bluewater passagemaker will take care of its crew in the rough stuff off soundings.
Sure enough, coming around Fort Adams with long-time J/boats designer Al Johnstone and SAIL’s managing editor, Lydia Mullan, aboard we immediately started rocketing across Narragansett Bay with a solid 20 knots of wind gusting to 25 and more. The J/9, though, couldn’t have been happier.
Better still, Al expressly designed the boat to handle as well under main alone as under main and jib, and while this works in terms of convenience, say, when sailing singlehanded on and off a mooring, it’s also a great way to de-power the rig. With this in mind, after tacking back and forth under full sail a bit, we rolled up the headsail and continued on pretty as you please, gossiping to our heart’s content without a care in the world. The boat’s helm, moderately proportioned hull and 4ft 11in keel remained admirably well-balanced throughout, making the boat a joy to sail. A 3ft 11in shoal-draft keel is also available for thin-water sailing.
Complementing the boat’s easy sailing qualities is an expansive cockpit, easy-to-board open transom and comfy cockpit benches with equally comfy, practical wraparound cushions and electrical auxiliary inboard power. (Inboard diesel power or outboard power are also available as options.) Belowdecks, there’s a cozy little cabin, complete with opening ports for ventilation, storage compartments bench seating and even a proper marine head forward. With its sharp, slightly tumblehome bow, truncated transom and nicely modeled cabintrunk, the boat is also darn good looking. In short, no matter what the weather, it would be hard to find a better “daysailer” than the new J/9.
4' 11" (std), 3' 11" (shoal)