Some thoughts on the J/70 phenomenon

Published on April 29th, 2014

When the 2013 J/70 North American Championship set its 90-boat entry threshold for the inaugural event on September 26-28 in Annapolis, MD, it was to insure the fleet-size would be properly served by the venue and host.

No one imagined it would lead to a near melt-down of the Internet. The quota was hit in only 28 hours.

The quota was raised to 120 boats for the 2014 J/70 North Americans on July 14-20 in Rochester, NY, but that event is also sold out. Click here for registration list.

What the heck is going on? Don Finkle of RCR Yachts explains…

We aren’t going out on a limb by calling it this growth a phenomenon when you realize that we will be taking delivery of hull numbers in the 600’s just over two years after first launch. That may not have been so remarkable 30 years ago but it surely is today. The only keel boat that we can relate a similar level of instant success to is the J/24 back when it hit the scene, but that was during the peak growth years of fiberglass boatbuilding.

When we went for a first sail on J/70 hull #1 in March 2012 we knew it was going to be a big hit and ordered one immediately. There is no perfect boat, and no boat that appeals to everyone, but the J/70 clearly attracts a broad segment of sailors. It is one thing to sell a lot of boats, but more impressive in our view is that the J/70 fleet, as young as it is, is almost always the largest class in most regattas today. This is even more noteworthy since the class is so young.

The few complaints we hear about the J/70 are precisely the reason why it is so successful.

Some say it is not high performance enough. It is clearly fast, but not so amped-up that only really good (or young) sailors can manage it. There are other classes for those who want to hang on by their fingernails. After all, there are only so many sailors in that upper echelon of ability, but we have had some great rides on a full plane in the J/70. We have heard it is too easy to sail, too simple. They said that about the Laser several hundred thousand boats ago too. Well, being easy-to-sail translates into more participation, a design that is more inclusive. It also allows one to get into the sportboat game and build their abilities as they go.

The J/70 is fast but not intimidating, fun for various ages and abilities, affordable and offers good racing everywhere you go. One of the best validations for the J/70 is the list of those who are currently sailing one as owner or crew, and the long list of those who have moved from their old classes into the J/70 fleet. If you are happy where you are by all means stay there, but if you are ready for something new and more modern then come join the fun.

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