J Class yachts sailing

How to spot J Class yachts

Do you know your Js apart? Can you identify which J Class yacht is which by its sail number? And do you know whether it’s one of the originals or a more recently built replica? In this guide we highlight the four Js that can be spotted on the south coast of England this summer where they are participating in two classic regattas.

J K7 –- Velsheda

Velsheda was built in steel in 1933 for WL Stephenson, the chairman of Woolworths in Britain, and named after his three daughters Velma, Sheila and Daphne. She was the only original J not to have been built for the America'’s Cup. Between 1937 and 1984 she languished in a mud berth on the Hamble River before scrap-metal merchant Terry Brabant rescued her and chartered her 'on a ‘shoestring’' and with no engine– mostly in the Solent but also in the Caribbean.

In 1996 she was purchased by Dutch fashion entrepreneur Ronald de Waal who commissioned Southampton Yacht Services to rebuild her. Since then de Waal has raced her extensively, always taking the helm himself, and she has become the only J to sail around the world.

Velsheda’'s support boat, the purpose-built 42 metre Bystander, will accompany her to the UK regattas.

Sail number –- J K7
Hull colour  -– dark blue
LOA -– 39.4m
Captain  -– James King

J 5 -– Ranger

Ranger is a replica of the J of the same name which was built for the 1937 America’s Cup for a syndicate led by railroad heir Harold Vanderbilt. Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens had been asked to produce eight sets of lines and the one selected as most suitable for the conditions expected off Newport, Rhode Island –- design number 77C -– was one of Burgess'’s, although Stephens later helped with some refinements.

Known as the ‘super J,’ Ranger comprehensively beat Endeavour II in the Cup and won all but two of the other 33 races in which she competed that year. She never sailed after that and was broken up in 1941.

With the design optimised by Reichel-Pugh, the new Ranger was built in steel -– true to the original but unlike the subsequent modern Js –- by Danish Yachts in 2003 for American John Williams. She has raced many times since then and will be competing in UK regattas.

Sail number –- J 5
Hull colour -– white
LOA –- 41.6
Captain -– Alastair Tait

J H1 -– Lionheart

Lionheart is based on Burgess and Stephen’s design number 77F which was one of those rejected in favour of 77C for the 1937 America’s Cup. However, after extensive research by Hoek Design, 77F was considered to be the best set of lines for the variety of racing conditions likely to be encountered at regattas around the world today.

Lionheart was built in aluminium by Bloemsma and Claasen Jachtbouw in Holland, and was launched in the summer of 2010. At 43.4 metres overall and with stunning 17 metre overhangs, she is the longest J afloat.

Her first owner’'s business commitments forced him to sell her and she was purchased in mid-2011 by Dutchman Harold Goddijn, the founder of Tom Tom.

Lionheart will be attending both UK regattas.

Sail number -– J H1
Hull colour –- black
LOA –- 43.4m
Captain -– Toby Brand

J H2 -– Rainbow

Rainbow is a replica of the J of the same name which successfully defended the 1934 America’s Cup. Designed by Starling Burgess and built in steel by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co for Harold Vanderbilt, the original boat was sold for scrap in 1940.

After the design was modernised by Dykstra, the new  Rainbow was built in aluminium by Bloemsma and Holland Jachtbouw, and launched in February of this year. Soon afterwards she went into an intensive period of crew training. She is owned by Dutch property developer Chris Gongriep whose previous boat was the 46 metre schooner Windrose of Amsterdam.

Rainbow will be supported at the UK regattas by the 57 metre classic tugboat Holland.

Sail number –- J H2

Hull colour –-   dark blue

LOA –- 40.0m

Captain –- Nick Hayley

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