J Class Yachts at St Barths


There was a time when the classic J Class Yachts were almost as rare as hens teeth.

Dragged half wrecked from riverside mud banks they were painstakingly restored so that they could race again. Just three of the old ladies survived even if they were renovated with modern material and computerised know how.

They were rare they were magnificent and to watch them is action was truly awe inspiring.

Now there are more J Class Yachts freshly built to plans dredged up from files long forgotten and the class is as a result enjoying a renaissance.

Three J’s are about to go head to head in St Barths as the 2016 season starts on Thursday in Saint Barths when three crews will race for the most prestigious trophy of their racing year, the King’s Hundred Guinea Cup.

The return of the magical class to the Saint Barths Bucket regatta, for the first time since 2013, is welcomed by many.

There will be no preamble, no warm up, no dress rehearsals before the yachts race round the buoys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a no holds barred, winner takes all windward-leeward race for the most coveted award.

The modernist Ranger and the original Velsheda will be up against Topaz the very latest J Class yacht, J8, which makes her racing debut off the Caribbean island.

Launched last July having been built in Holland to an original un built 1935 Frank C Paine design, J8 has been reported to incorporate the lowest wetted surface and highest keel aspect ratio of all in the class.

Mast position, stability, sail area and hull stiffness have been extensively researched.

The new boat is expected to have the upper hand in terms of speed in many conditions not least the big, rolling swells and brisk, reliable Saint Barths conditions.

But my money is on Velsheda the true blue original

Who do you favour?

Image: Bystander & Velsheda © Cory Silken