The July issue of Sailing Magazine provides a look at the J/105 in its
monthly feature ‘Used Boat Notebook’ by John Kretschmer. The J/105 class
consistently provides some of the biggest fleets and best competition across
North America, making it a strong contender for anyone shopping for a boat
in its size range. This report should assist those making this
If you just go by numbers, the J /105 is an unqualified success, a runaway
best-seller in an industry that hasn’t had enough best-sellers in the last
20 years. With nearly 700 hulls launched, it is one of the most successful
big boat one-design classes of all time. There are well-organized fleets
around the world and many regattas have a separate J/105 class. And the most impressive number of all is 18 – the number of years the J/105 has been in continuous production. But that’s the funny thing about the J/105: It’s
really not a numbers boat at all. Ask anyone who sails a 105 what they like
best about the boat and they will tell you the same thing: It’s just a
flat-out sweet sailing boat. And that’s the reason, of course, that the
numbers are so impressive.
Designed by Rod Johnstone, the J/105 broke new ground when it was introduced in 1992. It fused the West Coast fast-is-fun philosophy with an East Coast ethic of simplicity and clean lines. It was the first keelboat to feature a retractable sprit and true pole-free spinnaker sailing. The cockpit is
comfortable and manageable – there’s just a single set of primary winches.
And while the boat offers great performance, especially off the wind, it
doesn’t have a hint of squirrellyness in its DNA. It’s easy to sail, fun to
sail and at times downright exhilarating to sail. Those are traits that you
can’t define by numbers. This review will primarily look at the older
J/105s, those selling for less than $100,000, and there are plenty of them
on the used boat market. 
It’s not a stretch to say that the success of the J/105 may have sparked the
daysailer revival of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This boat features many
of the same design characteristics sans the elegance. Of course that means
sans the exorbitant price tag too. It’s not to say that Js are cheap, as you
can expect to pay around $100,000 for a 10- to 15-year-old J/105 in
excellent condition.
The J/105 is a boat that’s easily sailed by two and rewarding to sail for an
afternoon. You don’t have to be a serious sailor to own a J/105. Many are
set up with roller-furling headsails; in fact, furling gear is part of the
class rules. But it’s also a great boat to campaign seriously both as a
one-design and, as the Brits say, a handicapper, and you don’t need to have
deep pockets to be competitive. True crossover designs are the hardest to
make work, but when they do they usually become trendsetting, and that’s the case with the J/105. — Read on:
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