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J/9 Aces Sailing Test with Flying Colors

What a wonderful three weeks itís been sailing the J/9 and discovering just how special this new design is. Weíve put it through the paces in a wide range of conditions - with 5-6 people relaxing in the cockpit on a mainsail-only bay cruise; with a crew of two (average age 73) on a 45 mile coastal sail from Newport to Mystic, CT; and three times traveling the length of Narragansett Bay, including a single-handed, 17 mile upwind sail from Barrington to Newport, captured above by photographer Billy Black.
What have we learned?
The J/9 cockpit comfort is second to none, both when sailing and at the dock. We couldnít find a spot that wasnít comfortable to sit in. Nor did we come close to maxing out the number of people aboard - in fact five adults can sit on the same side of the cockpit. But itís more than just seat comfort. Being able to steer in a relaxed manner with feet braced across the cockpit, easily see over the cabin top, and have the main sheet and backstay controls at your fingertips, is what also makes the J/9 so comfortable and fun to sail.
One sail is all you need for a perfect dayís sail. We had a wonderful two-couple J/9 outing over Memorial Day Weekend. We started by hoisting the mainsail under the lee of Fort Adams in Newport, and then turned the corner upwind into a building 12-14 knot sea breeze. The J/9 quickly settled onto a steady angle of heel and knifed through the southwesterly chop with minimal fuss. The small roller furling jib was at the ready, but everyone was wearing such big smiles that we left the jib furled and happily continued the rest of the afternoon under mainsail only, exploring all the anchorages in the area. Back in the harbor, we couldnít resist a bit of showing off and ended up short-tacking through the crowded mooring field past many admiring onlookers. One tiller and one sheet, and no one had to move a muscle. What a day!
Less is More Ė itís easy to overcomplicate the rigging and deck layout in pursuit of an extra tenth of boatspeed, but how essential are these extras for daysailing? And is all the extra visual clutter worth it? Thanks to a very simple mainsheet bridle that allows the boom to nearly reach centerline while sailing upwind, the traveler track and controls are GONE on the J/9. Thanks to inboard jib tracks (on the coach roof) that allow a narrow jib sheeting angle for better upwind performance, the cockpit winches (that otherwise seem to only serve as elbow bruisers) are also GONE.
The J/9 is the perfect size for family daysailing - boats come in all shapes and sizes but until you invite the kids and their kids itís hard to know just how much boat one needs to keep everyone happy. With such a smooth, seakindly sailing motion and 9í long cockpit seats with aft swimming platform, youíd think the J/9 was a 35-footer. But youíll be very happy it isnít when you realize how much easier 28 feet is to own, sail, and maintain.