The terminology “J” Class refers to a class of racing boat, the rules for which were established in 1929 and which resulted in the “J” Class rating for large sailing yachts built between 1929 and 1937 and used to compete in the Americas Cup racing series.
The formula which determines a “J” Class is complicated but the general shape stems from a time when art and design fought for the same space and combined to produce a design which could win races whilst also being a visual spectacle of grace and elegance. They were hugely expensive to build and remained the playthings of the very rich and unfortunately most were scrapped for the Second World War.
This is an image of "Lionheart", a modern J Class yacht from Hoek Design in the Netherlands. Construction of the 44 metre hull commenced in 2007 and she was launched in 2010. If some modern designs of racing craft epitomise the search for speed over the water, Lionheart epitomises the search for grace and elegance.
Model makers attribute the title “J” Class to a certain configuration of hull and keel (see Loinheart above) to distinguish it from the more modern 1 Metre or Marblehead designs where the keel is a fin that drops vertically from the bottom of the hull and carries a torpedo shaped weight at its end. In reality it proves impossible to make a true working replica of a “J“ Class yacht as we can`t scale the physics of the wind and water so some compromise is necessary! It nevertheless suits our purpose to refer to the smoother shape of the hull as a “J” Class and it is possible to remain faithful to the spirit of the design whilst producing a practical working model which is aesthetically pleasing on the eye and which sails well in a range of wind conditions.