Last week, we reflected on Canada Day and highlighted a particularly Canadian sailboat manufacturer: C&C Yachts. This week, with Independence Day, the largest National holiday in the US July 4th having just past, we reflect on a particularly American sailboat manufacturer: J/Boats.
We have waited patiently to highlight this veritable mass producer of sailboats known and sailed worldwide. Not to be confused with the J Class of sailboats, J/Boats is a US based manufacturer of performance, one-design keelboats. J/Boats was founded in 1977 by Rod Johnstone with the first home designed and garage-built J/24, ‘Ragtime,’ costing a mere $400 and some spare parts from an old Soling. This boat went on to beat everything comparable on the water and within a year the first J/24 one-design regatta was held in Florida. Licensed manufacturers were set up worldwide and allowed for the proliferation of this popular fleet. Soon, the J/30, J/36, J/29, J/22, and J/35 were added within 6 years. In total there are now at least 37 different J/Boat classes that are sailed and raced worldwide. The J/24 still remains the most popular keelboat class in the world.
Looking back since being founded in 1977, J/Boats has won awards nearly every year either for wins on the water or for achievements as a manufacturer on land. Personally, we really love the naming system J/Boats developed to distinguish each model of boat they make. Taking cues from auto manufacturers, J/Boats developed a clever and simple identification system: put the J at the beginning to tie back to the manufacturer and add the boat LOA as a suffix to categorize the size.
J/Boats’ history is too deep to cover in this humble blog post, so we encourage you to read more below: