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j24 sailboat cruising

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  • Sailboat Reviews

The right boat at the right time, the J/24 has proven to be a wildly successful one-design racer.

j24 sailboat cruising

The J/24 is one of those boats that happened along at just the right time, with the right marketing to a ready market. Some may wonder whether the tale of her success would make a better textbook or a better storybook. Either way, much of the marine industry has studied her story, and then flattered her with the praise of emulation. However, no imitation or variation of the J/24 has yet to achieve her popularity.

Since her humble beginnings in 1976 in the garage of an amateur designer, thousands of boats have been sold from factories in Rhode Island, California, Australia, Japan, Italy, England, France, Brazil and Argentina. All of the builders are licensed by a company called J-Boats to build the J/24 to strict one-design tolerances. J-Boats is owned and run by two brothers—Bob and Rod Johnstone (the J in J-Boats).

Bob is the marketing whiz and Rod is the designer. Conservative estimates put their total revenue from the J/24, after buying the boats from the builders and selling them to the dealers, at several million dollars. Not bad considering how it all began….

Ragtime was a 24′ inspiration evolved by Rod Johnstone and his family in their garage as a two-year weekend project. Rod was a salesman for a marine publication, and an avid racer with a successful background in high-performance one designs. He had undertaken, but never completed, the Westlawn home-study course in naval architecture (although he has since been awarded an honorary degree so the school could use his name in its advertisements). Ragtime was launched in 1976, and was an instant winner, taking 17 firsts in 19 starts in eastern Connecticut. People began asking for their own boats.

At this time, brother Bob, also a respected racer, was working in the marketing department of AMF Alcort (Sunfish, Paceship, etc.). When Alcort declined to produce the J/24, Bob quit and formed JBoats. Tillotson-Pearson, builder of the Etchells 22 and the Freedom line of boats, was more receptive and production began in 1977. The first J/24s were as fast as Ragtime , and dominated regattas like the 1977 MORC Internationals. Bob made sure that the favorable results were well publicized; more than 200 boats were sold that year, and nearly 1,000 the next.

It was a big hit for a number of reasons. She moved into a void, appealing to two groups of sailors who were ripe for her type of racing: those who had outgrown athletic small boats, yet still yearned for the competition of one-design racing, and those who wished to compete without the expense, hassles and uncertainties of handicap racing.

The J/24 is a one design’s one design. Like the Laser, Windsurfer, and Hobie Cat, she is proprietary-built under the supervision of one company. Unlike most proprietary one designs, sails are not provided by the J/24’s builder. This was a particularly astute move by the Johnstones as it involved sailmakers in the class. Sailmakers comprise many of the big names in racing; by getting them in the regatta results, the Johnstones added instant credibility to the J/24’s budding status as a “hot” class. By the midwinter championship in 1979, almost every boat in the top 15 finishers had a sailmaker on board.

The big advantage that proprietary one designs have over “independent” one designs (classes with competing builders) is the power of centralized, bigbucks promotion. J-Boats has organized and promoted regattas, and had a heavy hand in running the class association. J/24s got a lot of press, thanks to JBoats. Full color, multi-page advertisements appeared monthly in the slick sailing magazines. Promotion has been primary; money is no object. J/24s have been donated for several high visibility USYRU championships. Big discounts have been given for fleet purchases (sometimes to effectively crush interest in competing one designs).

With the help of British enthusiasts, the Johnstones were able to make the J/24 an IYRU (International Yacht Racing Union) recognized class. More international lobbying got the J/24 into the Pan American Games.

There are some disadvantages to proprietary one designs. First, the class is in a real bind if the builder goes bankrupt. Likewise if the builder should ever abuse his power by ignoring class administration or changing construction of the boat to suit economic demands. Although a proprietary builder faces competition from other types of boats, there is no competition building his boat. This can inflate the price, especially when there are three substantial markups in the pricing structure (builder, J-Boats, and the dealer).


The J/24 has the distinct advantage of having been produced in great numbers and been subjected to the rigors of hard racing. It’s safe to say that nearly everything that could have broken, has broken, and that the J/24 is now almost bulletproof. J-Boats has done a commendable job in correcting nearly all of the “bugs” in the J/24. However, if you are planning to purchase a boat several years old you should be watchful for some of the old bugs.

Boats built during the first two years of production had particular problems with leaking along the hull-to-deck joint, delamination of the main bulkhead, and the attachment of the keel to the hull. The hull-to-deck leak was due to failure of the silicone sealant in the joint.

The inward-turning hull flange is overlapped by the deck, which is bedded in sealant and through-bolted at close intervals through a teak toe rail. Now this joint is bedded with 3M 5200, a pliable strong adhesive, and leaks are infrequent. Fortunately, the internal side of the joint is exposed throughout the boat’s interior, so recaulking is not difficult.

Harder to rectify is the problem of delamination of the main bulkhead. J/24s are raced hard, often with substantial rig tension. The chainplates pierce the deck and are bolted to the main bulkhead. The plywood bulkhead is tabbed with fiberglass to the hull and deck. The mast is stepped through the deck and sits on an aluminum beam, which is also tabbed to the main bulkhead. Rig tension pulls upward on the bulkhead while mast compression pushes downward on the beam, resulting in tremendous shearing forces on the bulkhead and its tabbing.

On some of the older J/24s, the plywood has delaminated, letting the mast “sink” 1/4 inch or more. Owners of these boats have either returned them to the factory for replacement of the bulkhead, or ground off the delamination and reglassed the bulkhead themselves. The builder now uses a better grade of plywood and installs screws to reinforce the bulkhead tabbing. As an added precaution, the boat owner may wish to bolt the mast-bearing beam to the bulkhead with an angle-iron.

The third problem with some of the older J/24s is the keel-to-hull attachment. The builder used to fill the keel sump with a vermiculite mixture of resin and plant fiber. The keel bolts were fastened through the vermiculite which, when saturated with water, is less rigid than solid laminations of fiberglass. After several years of sailing, or a hard grounding, the keel bolts would begin to work, and the keel would loosen enough to be able to be wobbled by hand with the boat suspended from a hoist. The first sign of this problem is the appearance of a crack along the keel stub. Tightening of the keel bolts, which are quality stainless steel, is a simple but temporary fix. What is needed is a backing plate for the bolts, bedded on top of the vermiculite.

There was a variety of other problems with early J/24s: The mast has three internal halyards; two jib halyards exit below the headstay with the spinnaker halyard above. On the older boats, a large square hole was cut in the mast to accommodate the sheaves, leaving an open, poorly supported space adjacent to the spinnaker sheave. This is sometimes the source of mast cracks; the fix is to weld a plate over it.

In January of 1980, the J/24 got much-improved companionway and forward hatches. The hatches on older boats were molded of thin fiberglass, and had a tendency to leak and fracture under the weight of heavy crew members. The new forward hatches are lexan, and the companionway hatch is now much heavier with a lower profile.


The J/24’s rudder is heavy and strong. The builder claims you can hang a 900 pound keel from the rudder tip without breaking it. Although the J/24’s rudder pintles appear more than adequate, after several years of use they have been known to develop corrosion cracks where the pintle is welded to its strap. In 1981, the builder began equipping J/24s with weldless pintles; the builder also offers the new system as a replacement for old boats.

The starboard chainplate bolts through both the bulkhead and the hull liner. The port chainplate bolts through only the bulkhead. After the first two years of production, the port bulkhead was reinforced with fiberglass in the chainplate area. On earlier boats, a backing plate should be added to prevent the chainplate bolts from elongating their holes.

The hull and deck of the J/24 are cored with balsa, which makes them stiff, light, quiet and relatively condensation-free. We have heard of occasional delaminations resulting from trailering with improperly adjusted poppets. The Kenyon mast section is the same as that used on the Etchells 22, a bigger boat. It is more than adequate for any strength of wind.

The J/24 does not have positive flotation, and she has been known to capsize in severe conditions. This is usually not a problem as she floats on her side with the companionway well out of the water. However, should the leeward cockpit locker fall open, water can rush below, filling the cabin and causing her to sink. While fastening the lockers in heavy weather prevents the problem, the manufacturer began to seal off the lockers from the cabin with an additional bulkhead several years ago, as a safety measure.

Of the 2,500 J/24s sold in the US, nearly 2,000 of them have been built by Tillotson-Pearson in Rhode Island. The others were built by Performance Sailcraft in San Francisco, which is now defunct. New boats are now shipped cross country. Top west coast sailors tell us they favor the east coast built boats, claiming the keels and rudders on the west coast built boats are too thick to be competitive. The west coast keels are thick because they are covered with injection-molded gelcoat. Tillotson-Pearson fairs the keels with auto body putty.

Handling Under Sail

The J/24’s PHRF rating ranges from 165 to 174, depending on the handicapper. She rates as fast as or faster than a C&C 30, Santana 30, or Pearson 30. One must remember that, because the J/24 has attracted competent owners, her PHRF rating is probably somewhat inflated. While the J/24 is an excellent training boat because she is so responsive, a beginning racer may have an especially hard time making her perform to her PHRF rating.

Aside from her speed, the J/24’s greatest asset is her maneuverability. With her stern hung rudder she can be turned in her own length, sculled out to a mooring in light air, and brought to a screeching halt by jamming the rudder over 90 degrees.

The J/24 has a narrow “groove;” it takes a lot of concentration to keep her going at top speed. She is sensitive to backstay trim, sheet tension, weight placement and lower shroud tension. The lower shrouds act like running backstays, because they are anchored aft of the mast. They must be loosened in light air to create some headstay sag, and then tightened in heavy air to straighten the mast, making backstay tension more effective in removing the sag.

Sheet tension is also critical. Top crews rarely cleat the genoa sheets, having one crewmember hold the tail while hiking from the rail. Some of the best sailors even lead the jib to the weather winch so the sail can be trimmed without sending crew weight to leeward.

The class rules allow you to race with a mainsail, a 150% genoa, a working jib and a single spinnaker. This makes sail selection simple and the inventory affordable (about $2,600 total). However, the one genoa must carry the boat all the way from a flat calm up to 20 knots or more. To be competitive in light air, the genoa must be full; yet to hold the boat level with this full genoa in a strong breeze, you need a lot of crew weight. Most of the top crews are now sailing with five people on board for a total crew weight of 800 to 900 pounds. The J/24 is a small boat, and the additional fifth crew member really makes the boat cramped. Add to this the increasing trend of some skippers making the crew sit in the cabin on the leeward bunk in light air, and you have a boat which can be less than fun to crew on.

There are two worthwhile improvements that can help a J/24’s performance. To decrease the boat’s slight tendency toward a lee helm in light air, the mast should be cut to minimum length allowed in the class rules, and the headstay should be lengthened to the maximum allowed to give the mast more rake. The other improvement is fairing the keel to minimum dimensions. The keel is much thicker than is necessary for optimum performance. It comes relatively fair from the builder, but most owners will want to grind off the builder’s auto-body filler and sharpen the trailing edge. On some of the older boats, the trailing edge is twice the minimum thickness.

Some racers go so far as to spend $500-$1,000 to have the keel professionally faired.

While all indications are that the builder has excellent quality control, there have been complaints that some of the spars provided by Kenyon in the last two years have come with the wrong length shrouds, or widely differing bend characteristics. One top sailor said he would never buy a used J/24 without first making sure that he could make the mast stand straight sideways with substantial shroud tension.

The J/24 is best suited for racing; there are many boats in her size range that are far more comfortable and practical for daysaiIing. However, the J/24 is a joy to sail under mainsail alone. Unlike most boats, she balances and sails upwind at a respectable speed, and her maneuverability gives her tremendous freedom in crowded harbors.

Handling Under Power

The J/24 is powered by an outboard engine; an inboard is not feasible or available. Class rules require that an outboard with a minimum of 3.5 hp be carried while racing. Most owners opt for a 3.5-4 hp outboard. It provides adequate power and is as much weight as you want to be hefting over a transom. Although the cockpit locker is plenty big enough, most owners stow the outboard under a berth in the cabin to keep the weight out of the stern. This makes using the outboard inconvenient. The factory-supplied optional outboard bracket has a spring-loaded hinge to lift the engine for easy mounting; we recommend it. Because the outboard is likely to be stored in the cabin, a remote gas tank will keep fuel spillage and odor to a minimum.

Above Decks

The J/24 is very well laid out, yet she is still not a comfortable or easy boat to crew on. When she was first launched, sailors said her layout could be no better, and she was copied by manufacturers of competing boats. However, after years of racing, sailors have discovered several things that could be improved.


Cockpit winches are located just forward of the mainsheet traveler, which spans the middle of the cockpit. Many sailors have moved the winches forward, so the crewmember tacking the genoa can face forward instead of aft during a tack. It pays to check to see if relocated deck hardware was installed properly; one J/24 owner we know discovered that the previous owner had moved the winches, but hadn’t installed proper backing plates or filled the original holes correctly. As a result, seepage had occurred and several square feet of the balsa-cored deck above the quarterberth had become sodden and rotten.

The standard mainsheet cleat is attached to the traveler car so that, when you trim the sheet, you inadvertently pull the car to weather. Many sailors have solved this by mounting a fixed cleat with a swivel base at the center of the traveler bar.

On older boats the backstay was single-ended at the transom. Boats now come with a double-ended backstay led forward to the helmsman on each side of the cockpit. Foot blocks need to be mounted on the traveler to keep helmsmen from falling to leeward as the boat heels (you must steer from forward and well outboard of the traveler).

For those who plan to try cross-sheeting to the weather winch, leading the jib sheets through Harken ratchet blocks is advised. Most sailors will also want to mount barber haulers to pull the genoa sheet outboard in strong winds. Cam cleats for the barber haulers should be mounted on the companionway so they “self-cleat” when led to the weather winch.

Cabin-top winches for the halyards and spinnaker guys are optional and essential. Because the J/24 has single spinnaker sheets, most sailors mount “twings,” which pull the guy down to the deck outboard of the shrouds when reaching.

In the search for a cleaner deck, it is now common to mount the spinnaker halyard cleat on the mast. Most sailors use only one jib halyard. Although a second jib halyard is optional, it is necessary only for long distance handicap racing. On short one design courses it is better to struggle along overpowered than to place crew weight on the bow to change headsails. Instruments are also unnecessary in one design racing. There are more than enough boats on a one design race course to judge your speed without the help of a speedometer.

The J/24 comes equipped with a Headfoil II grooved headstay system, which works very smoothly. Early boats came with Stern Twinstays, which have occasionally failed when the bearings freeze up with age. Some sailors have exchanged the grooved headstay system for cloth snaps on their headsails (you seldom change sails anyway). We applaud this idea, as it makes the sails more manageable in severe weather.

Although the flat decks are well suited for racing, the cockpit is less than comfortable for daysailing. There are no seat backs and the boom is dangerously low. Visibility with the deck-sweeping 150% genoa is terrible, and is often the cause of nightmarish collisions on crowded race courses. Lower life lines are optional and recommended for those with children, but they interfere with fast tacks when racing. The boom is rigged with a 4-to-1 vang, which is swiveled on the more recent J/24s to be adjustable from either rail on a windy spinnaker reach. The boom is also rigged with reef lines which exit through stoppers at the gooseneck.

Top sailors have discovered that the boat always sails better without a reef, which is a good thing, because the stoppers are both difficult to operate and have a history of slipping.

The interior is simple and functional. On most boats it is used for little more than sail storage. However, for a couple who enjoys roughing it, it could make for occasional weekend cruising. The first thing you notic below is the lack of headroom. You can sit in comfort, but to move about you must crawl.

The interior is finished off in bare white gelcoat. Early boats had coarse, non-skid gelcoat on the overhead. While this may have been more attractive than smooth gelcoat, it really did a number on elbows and bald heads. It also tended to collect dirt and mildew. Earlier through-bolted deck fittings were capped with acorn nuts. Now the nuts lie flush with the overhead—less pain when bumped.

A molded hull liner is used to form the two quarter berths, the cabin sole, and two lockers and a galley just aft of the main bulkhead. One locker is deep enough to serve as a wet locker for foul weather gear; the other is best used to store the rudiments of a meal. The galley consists of a sink with a hand pump. A small, two burner stove could be mounted in the small, removable “table” forward of the port quarter berth. The icebox, a large portable cooler made by Igloo, has a piece of teak glued to it and doubles as a companionway step. After a season or two of jumping on the ice chest, the lid disintegrates.

The forward V-berth, although divided by the mast, is still large and comfortable enough for a couple. The boat does not come equipped with a head. To avoid the extra drag of a through-hull fitting, portable heads are often used. We would rather use a cedar bucket—there simply isn’t enough space in the cabin of a J/24 to cohabitate with a portable head. If you plan to seriously race, you won’t want to load the boat’s lockers with cruising equipment. If you do cruise, it will probably be out of a duffel bag.

J/24: How Trailerable?

The J/24 is not launchable from a boat ramp, unless the ramp is steep, paved or of hard sand, and you use a long extender between the tongue of the trailer and your trailer hitch. Her 3,100 pounds (fully loaded) require a big, 8-cylinder vehicle to tow her. She is easily launched from a 2-ton hoist which can attach to a strap on her keel bolts. However, the hatch slides just far enough forward to allow the hoisting cable to clear it, so the hatch tends to get chewed by the cable.

The J/24 was originally designed to sail at a displacement of 2,800 pounds. The class minimum was later increased to 3,100. The original single axle trailer provide as a factory option was barely adequate for the intended, 2,800 pound boat, and totally inadequate for a fully loaded boat. Tales abound of blown tires and broken trailer welds. The factory now offers both a single and double axle trailer; we recommend the double axle.

If you want to seriously race a J/24, trailering is a necessity. Local fleets grow and shrink each year with the whims of their members, but national and regional regattas continue to attract many participants. Make no mistake, however; trailering is expensive.

The owning and maintenance of a big car, the gas and tolls of trailering, and the housing of crew are not cheap.


The appeal of the J/24 is as a racer. If you plan to do anything else, she is not for you. Although the J/24 is relatively easy to sail, she is very difficult to sail well. To many people, she represents a chance to compete in the big leagues; by traveling to major regattas you can sail against some of the best sailors in the country. However, the big leagues are tough—if you like to race with a pick-up crew and a hangover you’d also better be satisfied with finishing last.

One appeal of the J/24 is that, unlike many big league boats, you can always come home and sail because the boat has so big a following. There are enough boats to race it one-design almost anywhere; and in a pinch, there is always handicap racing. As long as you don’t want to travel, the boat is inexpensive to maintain.

Despite our effort to highlight every flaw that has appeared throughout the J/24’s evolution, we’d like to emphasize that she is more hardy than most boats of her type. Few boats can take the punishment that a J/24 gets during a season of racing and come through with so few scars. No racing boat will appreciate; but the J/24 can keep her value.

The dream boat with the fairy tale success story has turned out, after all, to be a rugged winner in the real world.


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How to setup the cunningham - J24

j24 sailboat cruising

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first, it looks like your gooseneck plates are splayed out? Pull them back together so you can put a pin thru the holes. Then tie your cunningham line to one of the unused holes, lead it up thru the sail cringle, then back down other side a short ways. Tie a small block to it, a few inches above where you are going to put a clam-cleat into the mast. Then tie a line from one of the gooseneck holes, up through the block and down through this cleat. Now you have a 4 to 1 advantage.  

I believe the gooseneck is supposed to look like it does. I have gone to the Kenyon site and they have a picture of it, just like that. I didn't appreciate that the cunningham actually ran up a portion of the sail. This may be the piece of the puzzle I was missing. Thanks  

j24 sailboat cruising

more than you wanted to know? Have never seen a tack fitting splayed out like that, and can't figure out why it would be like that or how it would work, so I understand Nolatom's concern. Further reading about the J/24 class, however, mentions that the mainsails have "floating tacks", and one article J 24 Tuning Guide (dated 2002, by Shore Sails) suggests cutting the tangs off entirely, since "they're not needed". I cannot find any pictures of it, but the best advice might be to check the J/24 association website for the latest information on how the boat is rigged. The Cunningham was invented because sails can't be stretched beyond the black bands on the mast. (This is so that all the sails in one class are the same size.) In light air, it pays to have fuller sails, as big as is allowed. If the wind increases and your sail is already pulled out as far as the black bands allow, how do you make the sail flatter (for improved performance in the higher wind) without pulling the downhaul beyond the bottom band? Enter the cunningham. It is essentially an extra-high tack grommet, invented by America's Cup helmsman Briggs Cunningham, which enables you to pull down on the main luff without making the boom go lower (beyond the black band.) Any sort of multiple purchase setup will work. You could attach a block to one of your tack-fitting holes (since you don't need the tack fitting...) and attach a line to the tack fitting on the other side. Run the line up through the cunningham hole, through the block, and back through the cunningham hole. You can then tie it off to the tack fitting somehow, or end it in some other convenient place. Harken will sell you blocks to make the thing 40:1 if you want it, but more than 4:1 is probably overkill.  

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  • Sailboat Guide

J/24 is a 24 ′ 0 ″ / 7.3 m monohull sailboat designed by Rod Johnstone and built by J Boats, Sydney Yachts/Bashford Int., Ovington Boats Ltd., and Waterline Systems, LLC starting in 1977.

Drawing of J/24

Rig and Sails

Auxilary power, accomodations, calculations.

The theoretical maximum speed that a displacement hull can move efficiently through the water is determined by it's waterline length and displacement. It may be unable to reach this speed if the boat is underpowered or heavily loaded, though it may exceed this speed given enough power. Read more.

Classic hull speed formula:

Hull Speed = 1.34 x √LWL

Max Speed/Length ratio = 8.26 ÷ Displacement/Length ratio .311 Hull Speed = Max Speed/Length ratio x √LWL

Sail Area / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the power of the sails relative to the weight of the boat. The higher the number, the higher the performance, but the harder the boat will be to handle. This ratio is a "non-dimensional" value that facilitates comparisons between boats of different types and sizes. Read more.

SA/D = SA ÷ (D ÷ 64) 2/3

  • SA : Sail area in square feet, derived by adding the mainsail area to 100% of the foretriangle area (the lateral area above the deck between the mast and the forestay).
  • D : Displacement in pounds.

Ballast / Displacement Ratio

A measure of the stability of a boat's hull that suggests how well a monohull will stand up to its sails. The ballast displacement ratio indicates how much of the weight of a boat is placed for maximum stability against capsizing and is an indicator of stiffness and resistance to capsize.

Ballast / Displacement * 100

Displacement / Length Ratio

A measure of the weight of the boat relative to it's length at the waterline. The higher a boat’s D/L ratio, the more easily it will carry a load and the more comfortable its motion will be. The lower a boat's ratio is, the less power it takes to drive the boat to its nominal hull speed or beyond. Read more.

D/L = (D ÷ 2240) ÷ (0.01 x LWL)³

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds.
  • LWL: Waterline length in feet

Comfort Ratio

This ratio assess how quickly and abruptly a boat’s hull reacts to waves in a significant seaway, these being the elements of a boat’s motion most likely to cause seasickness. Read more.

Comfort ratio = D ÷ (.65 x (.7 LWL + .3 LOA) x Beam 1.33 )

  • D: Displacement of the boat in pounds
  • LOA: Length overall in feet
  • Beam: Width of boat at the widest point in feet

Capsize Screening Formula

This formula attempts to indicate whether a given boat might be too wide and light to readily right itself after being overturned in extreme conditions. Read more.

CSV = Beam ÷ ³√(D / 64)

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J24 World Champion Will Welles answers your speed and boathandling questions.

After 40 years, what is the culture of the J24 class?

The J24 class has changed over the years since it was first launched in the late 1970s. It remains strong because with 5500 boats worldwide, it’s relatively inexpensive. You can fix up a 1978 boat and win the worlds if you put in the time, energy and a little money. There are fewer pros racing, and a lot of the competitors are people who have been in the class for a long time. Many grew up sailing with their family and friends in the boats and love nothing more than going to regattas together. For younger folks, it’s all about sailing with their buddies—a chance to head off on the road and experience the country and the world. Sailing with five has a bit different feel than classes with fewer in the crew. More people to manage makes it, a mini big-boat program.

j24 sailboat cruising

J24 sails upwind fastest with minimal heel and crew weight concentrated.

Winning the world championship still means a lot in this class, and it’s remarkable how people come out of the woodwork to try to do that. At the club level, racing is as healthy as it’s been in some time. Certain areas are doing better than others, like any mature class. Portland, ME has lots of boats, none of them dry-sailed. In the U.S., there are a dozen strong fleets and lots of smaller fleets; for example, there’s a growing fleet in Indiana. Mexico and South America are pretty strong, although there has been some transition to J70s. Strong J24 countries in Europe include Italy, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, the UK, Ireland, and France. In Germany, a lot of boats are owned by clubs that fund youth teams.

What kind of sailors do best in the J24 class?

The J24 is unlike many other boats, so having some seat-of-the-pants ability is good; for example, there is no other boat on which you trim the main so hard and pinch, with a bubble in the genoa, when you are overpowered in flat water.

What are your top 3 tips for competing successfully in this class?

Buy a boat with the right keel shape, mast, and deck layout.

Maintain a good set of sails.

Assemble a team that’s committed to the same goals as you.

Who does what on the boat?

Back to front, the helm steers, trims the main, and plays the traveler and backstay. The helm also grinds the jib winch. The trimmer handles the genoa and often handles the spinnaker sheets. What we call the “tank commander” (middle position) is often the tactician; ideally this person is one of your heaviest team members, hiking at max beam. Their job includes handling the guy on a windy spinnaker set, feeding the spinnaker out on a light-air set, and taking down the spinnaker. The mast/twing person controls the twings and backs up the bow person on halyards, outhaul, main cunningham, and vang. The bow person skirts the genoa on tacks, handles the pole, and hoists the spinnaker and jib.

What is the ideal J24 crew size?

The crew-weight maximum on the J24 is 882 pounds (400 kilograms). You don’t have to sail exactly at max weight unless it’s a windy venue—you can often handle being 20 pounds lighter. The average crewmember weighs about 175 pounds. Ideally, your heaviest crew is amidships, but it’s not important for the bow person to be light. Both bow and trimmer need to be strong for heavy air. The J24 has a genoa that requires speed and strength on tacks—trimming on tacks is all about timing, but strength is important too. On some boats, the mast person helps jibe the pole.

j24 sailboat cruising

The crew moves in concert to help turn or steer the boat, especially in waves.

New boats and used boats: what are my options in the J24?

The class currently has two builders, one in Italy and one in Argentina, and you can reach them through the class website.

Used boats, of course, are plentiful and the prices are modest. For a worlds-quality boat with trailer in the U.S., you’ll likely spend $10,000- to $12,000. A weapon might cost about twice that. If you want a fixer-upper, you can get into a boat for well under $10,000. 

Things I would look for are a refined keel shape and faired bottom, a relatively new rudder, and a newer mast. Look at the deck hardware, and inspect both the chainplates/bulkhead and rudder gudgeon areas. If you buy a boat that’s been competing at a good level, you can expect that the spreader sweep, keel shape and position, and rudder angle will already be right.

How do you transport the J24?

Boats have dedicated trailers, which together with the boat weigh about 4500 pounds. The boat at all-up racing weight is 1330 kgs, or close to 3000 pounds. The trailer and trailer boxes add about 1500 pounds. Most used J24s have trailers; some are single-axle. Double axles are nicer for longer distances.

What's involved in rigging/derigging a J24?

If you’re well organized, two people in an hour can get the mast unpacked, stepped, tuned, and boat ready to launch. Derigging is similar, or even quicker. The boats are set up for a single-point lift through an inspection port on the seahood. Add a couple lines from the strap to each of the aft cleats and you’re set to launch.

What kind of inventory does North recommend?

We recommend a fathead main, currently our only mainsail design, and the most popular headsails we sell are the DX7TT genoa and FR2 spinnaker used by the winners at recent world championships. We have an option for a slightly flatter genoa, which might be chosen by a lake sailor, and we have a second spinnaker that is harder to trim but excels in windy, wavy conditions.

North also makes some nice covers—a full deck cover for storage in a drysail park or in your yard, and a full mast cover. We have a padded rudder cover for below-decks storage and a padded keel cover for trailering. We also offer a nice spinnaker launch bag that hangs in the companionway.

j24 sailboat cruising

The standard deck layout is set up for cross sheeting of the genoa sheet; the helm can reach the winch handle when trim is needed.

What is the most important boat preparation project to address on the J24?

To quote the North Sails Tuning Guide , “Sails, deck layout, keel and rudder shape, and mast tuning all share equal importance. To be competitive in the J24, you must tackle all of these important factors.” Fortunately, as described above, if you buy a boat that’s been competing at a good level, most of these will be in good shape already. But don’t take it for granted. Read the Tuning Guide and see how your boat measures up.

What are the keys to tuning a J24 mast properly?

First thing, make sure your mast is at minimum legal height, and at maximum class J dimension, and the headstay is at maximum length. This combination helps rake the mast aft and eliminate lee helm. Next, make sure your spreader sweep is at 160 to 170 mm, measured from a straight line between the tips to the mast groove. Then make sure mast is centered in the boat and straight. From there, use the tuning matrix in the North Tuning Guide to set correct shroud tension.

J24 Upwind Sailing

There are two jibs on a j24. when do you switch from the genoa to the blade.

It seems to be the “macho thing” in some fleets to keep sailing with the genoa in higher winds. If I’m sailing at maximum weight, I will switch to the blade at 16 knots and above in flat water. In waves, you can’t go there until it’s blowing above 18. If you’re sailing really light, you may have to change headsails earlier.

Where does each person sit when sailing upwind?

In light air, we like “dogs in the house” (crew members sitting below). There is no rule against it, and it’s more comfortable down there. The bow person sits in the V berth in front of the mast, to leeward. The mast person sits just behind the mast on the sink or on the floor. The tactician and the trimmer might be below, as well. The trimmer often sits to leeward and sticks their head out once in a while, but the tactician will normally be the first person to look around to help the skipper place the boat where needed. The skipper sits forward of the traveler, to windward, for best visibility.

As the breeze builds, we gradually move each crew on deck until everyone is hiking. First to come out is the tactician, then the bow person, then mast. The trimmer is the first to move in and last to move out of the hole. Under 6 knots, we have everyone below; at 7 knots, people start to come up. At 10, everyone is fully hiked.

In flat water, one body hikes in front of the shrouds from 7-10 knots and everyone else packs up tight behind them. As the breeze and waves build, crews move behind the shrouds but stay close together. In heavy air and big waves, the trimmer sits just behind the stanchion and everyone else packs up against the forward side of it. At the helm, once everyone is hiking, I’ll start pulling on backstay. I straddle the traveler bracing on the footrests. My butt is outboard and my shoulders are pressed against the lifelines.

j24 sailboat cruising

In light to moderate air, the main traveler is sheeted well to windward. The genoa foot and leech are trimmed within a few inches of the chainplates and spreader tip.

What is your primary focus when trimming the mainsail?

When sailing upwind, focus on the top leech telltale and how it’s flowing. Look at the next one down, too. You never want the second one stalled. When the keel is working and we’re fully hiked out, I’ll trim the main hard enough to stall the top telltale 50 percent of the time. When we’re losing speed or need more power, I’ll ease a little sheet so the top telltale is flowing 100 percent of the time, and once we’re back up to full speed I’ll trim harder. This amounts to a couple inches of mainsheet adjustment in 8- to 12 knots. In lighter air, the top telltale should be flowing 100 percent of the time and the traveler car should be all the way to windward, over the Delrin traveler end stop.

Tighten the backstay after the crew is fully hiked. When that’s not enough to keep the boat flat, drop the traveler down six inches. When you run out of backstay, shift to vang sheeting, which you can use up to as much wind as you’ll race in. Drop the traveler car down until it is one car width above the center of the traveler, have two crew pull on the vang as hard as possible so there’s a bow in the boom, and then adjust the traveler to keep the boat on its feet through the puffs.

What’s your focus when trimming the J24 genoa?

J24 genoa trim is measured by the distance between the leech and the spreader and the foot position relative to the leeward chainplate. We set the lead so both leech and foot touch at the same time, then ease the sheet as follows:

In light air, the leech should be 5 to 10 inches off the spreader until you’re up to speed, then trim to within 3 to 5 inches. In puffs and lulls, ease up to 8 inches off. Out of a tack, start at 18” and then trim as the boat gets up to speed. In medium air, the range is 2 to 6 inches off the spreader.

In breeze, you need to manage your angle of heel. Trim to within 2” of the spreader, but if it’s windy enough that you are vang sheeting and still heeling over in the puffs, ease the genoa sheet—you might be easing it out a foot in the puffs, then trimming it back in. In flat water you can feather and pinch, but in waves you have to ease more often. It’s all about reducing heel.

Switch to the blade jib when the wind is 16 to 18 knots and above. Trim the sheet until the leech telltale stalls, then ease enough to fly it 100 percent of the time. The middle of the sheave on the lead block should be even with the chainplate.

j24 sailboat cruising

A good view of well-matched leeches in moderate air.

What are the key J24 gear changes to make when wind and sea state change?

Positioning your crew weight is huge in light to moderate conditions. Play the backstay in medium air. And in heavy air, it’s all about proper sheeting. With the genoa, you play the sheet a lot more and see the biggest speed differences. Learn to manage your angle of heel, and get comfortable with sailing the boat flat. Then you can win races.

Who is in the typical dialogue loop upwind and what's a typical conversation?

The more you sail the J24 , the less you have to talk. I like minimal words but to be alerted to extremes, like “Nuker puff coming.” I also like hearing about the lulls and how long they’ll be—10 seconds or 30 seconds—so I know whether to just pop off the backstay or make a longer-term adjustment. For example, I may talk to the trimmer about easing the genoa and ask how our mode is with other boats—do we have good height, good forward speed? We always talk about “us.” Are we slower, faster, higher, lower? We usually leave boat placement calls to the tactician; we do our homework together between races, but then the tactician makes it happen.

j24 sailboat cruising

When sailing upwind in breeze, the crew of five hikes hard. Christopher Howell photo

Are there special considerations or upwind conditions in the J24 a new sailor should know how to handle?

You have to learn to keep the boat flat by any means possible—crew weight, depowering, pinching, more backstay, more shroud tension.

J24 Downwind Sailing

Where does each crew member sit when sailing the j24 downwind.

In 4 or 5 knots of wind, we might have everyone below except the trimmer and helm. The bow uses the forward hatch. The mast person sits in the sink area, the tactician stands in the companionway, and the trimmer stands up on deck. The helm sits to leeward and forward of the traveler.

j24 sailboat cruising

Downwind, most of the crew sits low and forward; the trimmer stands up.

As the breeze comes up to 7 knots and above, everyone comes on deck unless there are big waves, in which case we might keep a couple crew below. The boat should be flat or slightly heeled to weather, with weight to the edges for stability. Exact location varies with crew weight, but typically the bow is in front of the mast, either to leeward or to weather as needed. The mast person sits out toward either rail. The tactician stands on the cabin sole in “tank commander” position. The trimmer stands out at the toerail by the weather stanchion. We move our body weight to help steer the boat; in light to medium breeze, the bow person watches the tiller and listens to the dialogue, moving weight accordingly. In heavier air, both mast and bow are moving.

When it gets breezy, the boat can get a little out of control in waves. Bring the crew weight behind the mast and to leeward to keep the weather rail up, so that the boat wants to go straight; otherwise the bow goes down, you lose the rudder and wipe out to windward. If planing (30-plus knots), everyone gets behind the traveler. In medium or heavy air, I sit behind the traveler and to leeward unless we are planing; then I’ll sit to windward or stand up in the middle. In any waves and in medium and heavy air, I always lock the tiller extension in place and steer with the tiller downwind to reduce my reaction time.

What are the key changes in different conditions?

As wind and sea state build, start moving the crew aft, keeping always to the edges except for the tactician, who stands on the cabin sole. Never heel the boat to leeward except in light air when you want to head up. Always err towards sailing the boat flat or with slight weather heel, because that will help project the kite and balance the helm.

What do you focus on when trimming main and chute?

The main goes all the way out downwind and we never ease the outhaul unless we’re reaching. I sit to leeward and hold all of the purchase parts. I never want the main luffing or over-trimmed. Adjust the vang to keep the top batten parallel to the boom.

Adjust the spinnaker pole height and work hard to square the pole as much as possible. Always play the sheet out to the curl. If we’re sailing angles (less than 8 knots), we’ll set the tack slightly lower than the clew for better flow across the chute. In 8 knots and above we make the clews even, square the pole back, and go dead downwind. The J24 has two pole settings; we use the bottom ring up until 16 knots, then switch to the top.

Downwind, who is in the typical dialogue loop and what's a typical conversation?

The trimmer and I talk constantly about wind pressure in the kite, especially in light to medium air. Once the wind becomes medium/heavy, the bow warns us about big puffs so we don’t get caught with the bow too low.

j24 sailboat cruising

To catch a wave, the helmsman and trimmer pump the sheets in unison, and the crew presses against the windward rail.

What controls are important downwind in different conditions?

We let the backstay all the way off downwind, unless the wind is 20 knots or more; then we leave half of the backstay on. Two other things we recommend when the wind is above 20 knots: pull the vang on extra hard to stabilize the boat, and pull both twings down to choke the kite a bit. We always use the foreguy, and unless it’s above 20 knots we trim the weather twing so it’s halfway from lifeline to rail and let the leeward twing off all the way. Also, when we’re sailing upwind with the blade jib, we’ll typically leave it up downwind. It helps stabilize the boat, and you can trim it like a staysail when planing.

J24 Boathandling

What's a start like in the j24 class.

Normal procedure is for teams to drop the genoa between races and hoist again with 4 or 5 minutes to go. Velocitek instruments are legal now, so you can ping each end of the line and have a reliable GPS-measured distance to the line. It’s made starts even more aggressive.

j24 sailboat cruising

A competitive J24 start shows four crew hiking on most boats and mainsail luffs eased to keep the draft aft, well-matched for the genoa overlap. Christopher Howell photo

What tips can you offer for starting well in a J24?

Always have a routine and stick to it. You always need a plan B but if you have a routine, everyone knows what to expect. On our boat we’ll get windshots, figure out the favored end, and decide which side we want to sail on the first beat. Then we’ll block out a section of the line where we want to start. It’s up to me to get the boat there.

I’m a port-tack approach guy; I’m watching the clock and trying to figure out where I need to be to get to that place on the line by one minute. J24s can stop and get going quickly, so my goal is to be tacking into a good hole at about one minute. I’m always looking for real estate—whole pockets where boats aren’t. Once you find your hole, manage the people around you.

The bow keeps us honest about distance to the line, using hand signals. The bow can also lift the skirt of the sail with the foot line to help visibility.Time comes from the middle crew; I like it loud, counting down the last 30 seconds. The trimmer listens to my requests for “full speed, half speed, stop.” The tactician watches out for “snipers” (boats behind) and reminds me when it’s time to go.

What tips can you offer for downspeed boathandling?

Practice your starts. Get the crew out for an evening, pick your marks, and do time-on-distance exercises.

What mistake slows the J24 down most in a tack?

Genoa trim is the one of the top three priorities in tacking the J24. The helm should use a moderate rate turn and be consistent. The biggest thing that slows you down is if the trimmer doesn’t release the genoa sheet soon enough and you “smoke” the back of your sail (against the windward spreader and shroud). Most trimmers release it too late; you need to release by the time the bow gets head to wind, or even slightly before that. This also makes it easier to trim the new sheet. I like the bow person to grab the foot and help the sail around the shrouds.

What does each crewmember do when tacking a J24?

The skipper is busy, first removing the winch handle and putting it into the winch-handle pocket, then turning the boat and bringing up the traveler, plus usually easing the mainsheet two inches and sometimes burping the backstay. Finally, they put the winch handle in, pull on the backstay and main, and grind in the last bit of genoa sheet.

The trimmer cross sheets the genoa, releasing the old sheet by the time the bow gets head to wind, trimming the new sheet and then hitting the rail with sheet in hand, leaving the final grind to the helmsman. The bow handles the foot line on the way across the boat in front of the mast.

The other two cross the middle of the boat, roll tacking the boat if possible. I might say, “1, 2, or 3 roll.” (The tactician is 1, the bow guy is 2, and the mast guy is 3.) The mast is the worst position to roll from because they need to go under the foot of the genoa on the way to windward. Sometimes we vary this depending on the wind, and another reason might be if the tactician is heavier and you want them to get to the windward rail faster.

Any tips for good light or heavy-air tacks?

Roll tacks are crucial in light air. Also, make sure the mainsheet is eased a little so you can get back up to speed quickly. In heavy air, the mainsheet needs to be eased to avoid heeling too much.

What is the key to a fast spinnaker set?

Timing is critical to a good J24 set. Make a good pre-feed of the tack, and have the bow person tension the footline to keep the jib inside the lifelines and out of the way. Trim the main and genoa on the offset leg while the pole is going up. Get the kite out of the boat and up. Don’t ease the main out all the way until the chute is out and clear of the leeward spreader.

j24 sailboat cruising

Dropping the genoa quickly is important after the spinnaker is set and flying. (Christopher Howell photo)

Who does what on the J24 during a jibe set?

The debate is always whether to go with pole or no pole. I like to do a jibe-set with the pole up because it doesn’t telegraph your move, and it helps keep the kite away from the boat. Ideally, the kite goes up and the boat turns and you do a late jibe with the pole. As the pole comes across, the mast person lets the genoa down. Don’t rush dropping the genoa, or it will foul up the spinnaker. The tactician should be ready as a human pole on the new jibe. Our priority is to get the kite filled on the new jibe; if we can get the genoa down, great; but if not just make sure to ease the sheet.

What mistake slows the J24 down most in a jibe?

Don’t over-steer the boat. In any breeze, you lose distance and heel a lot. Match the rotation of the spinnaker to the rate of the turn. In lighter air, it’s possible to understeer and come out too low, so the boat loses speed and/or the kite collapses.

What does each J24 crewmember do in a jibe?

In 8 to 10 knots, the helm turns the boat, the trimmer rotates the kite holding both sheets, the bow jibes the pole, the mast does the twings, and the tactician moves from one side to the other. Everyone works together to roll the boat in light and medium conditions.

Key tips for good light or heavy-air jibes?

In light air, roll the boat through the jibe. The helm must come out of the jibe on an angle with adequate pressure to fill the spinnaker, while the trimmer crosses the bridgedeck to the new windward side after ducking under the boom.

In heavy air, it’s key for the helm to keep the bow under the logo in the foot of the spinnaker. Stray from that and you’ll probably wipe out. Jibe the main on top of a wave or when the boat unloads, with somebody forward helping the main across by grabbing the vang. In super heavy wind when you have your crew weight aft, have someone else jibe the main.

What is the key to a good spinnaker takedown?

Practice makes all the difference on the J24. Have your boat settled and set to go upwind when you round the mark. The better you get at takedowns, the longer you can keep the chute up.

Who does what in the crew on a windward or leeward takedown?

The bow ditches the foreguy, raises the genoa, and then takes off the pole (replaced by a human guy) and drops it to the deck, clipping it onto the shrouds under the genoa sheets. Then either I call the takedown, or if there’s traffic, the bow person makes their own call. If the bow needs help, the mast douses the halyard.

The middle person acts as the human pole (sometimes it’s the mast person) and pulls the kite down into the companionway. The jib trimmer under-trims while rounding the mark so we don’t lose speed. I trim my own main, with a preset traveler and backstay. In traffic, I might set up with less backstay.

Any special takedown tricks in this class?

Dropping the halyard six feet and holding for a second allows the foot to be pulled in, which makes for a better takedown.

j24 sailboat cruising

At the leeward mark, genoa trimmer and helm work together to trim the big headsail; the trimmer hauls in while the helm finishes his main trim and prepares to grind. Christopher Howell photo

Doing circles is slow in any boat; what are the keys to minimizing the pain on a J24?

Practice circles, too. We always jibe first. I think it’s faster.

How easily does a J24 broach or capsize?

It’s relatively easy to broach a J24 if you’re not watching for big puffs. And upwind, if you’re not vang sheeting in heavy air, you’re going to wipe out. The boat has a big rudder, but the wide hull shape takes over when you heel.

How do I recover when/if it happens?

When you broach under spinnaker, you can pop the boat back up pretty easily, but if it doesn’t come up right away, blow the spinnaker halyard.

What are the most common boathandling mistakes made in this class?

Not sailing the boat flat enough is the most common error. After that, timing the genoa release on your tacks. I recommend practicing tacks with an old sail.

Any suggestions for drills to improve boathandling?

I like to do two-boat stuff sailing upwind. It’s the best way to learn all the gears. Lots of gear shifting with this boat. The better you get at making sure the boat’s in the right gear all the day, the more successful you’ll be.

What is the coolest thing about the J24?

People are super down to earth, really nice. Most of my best friends are from the J24 class. Everyone helps each other out whether it’s missing or broken boat parts, tuning help, or stepping the mast. Everyone likes to sail pretty hard and enjoy a cold beer after. The average age of a J24 owner is late 30s.

At major events you still see a very high caliber of competition; we get 50 to 60 boats at major regattas and 80 at a Worlds. At the club level, lots of people own the boats and they use them—they’re having a lot of fun.





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Won One, Lost One

  • By Dave Reed
  • June 18, 2024

Reed with family on their boat, Another Opinion

in this same space, one year ago, I shared an epiphany that I’d had after tanking my frostbite season on the final day of racing, on account of a few avoidable mistakes. “Dumb is as dumb does,” I posited. I would not let that happen again, I promised. 

The offseason is long, however, and it’s during this time and space that we forget the commitments we make to ourselves and our teammates as we debrief over a beer, sky the halyards, wash the sheets, and put away the boat until next time. There’s always a ­better season next year. So, in my offseason, I thought long and hard about why I’d been prone to high-risk, low-reward ­tactics and aggressive starts. I was always trying too hard to win races without regard to the length of the season, which starts on New Year’s Day and rolls through mid-April. There are a lot of races, and a lot of points to be saved between A and B, so stop trying to win races. See how it goes.

With this mantra in mind, I arrive early on opening day, eager to get the new season underway. My arch rival and the perennial fleet champ, FJ Ritt, is already at the club. He’s busy getting the club’s fleet of N10s (aka Turnabouts) ready. There’s a special vibe on opening day, and I’m sure he sensed it too: a rebirth, a new beginning, uncertainty and anticipation. Corny, I know. But it’s true.

I step to the water’s edge, look across the slate-gray ­harbor littered with winter sticks and mooring balls. There’s a light northeasterly—the one direction I dread. I have flashbacks of that one dumb season-crushing race that ended my last season.

Race 1 then goes something like this: I get a good start, and I’m in a close second place on the downwind leg. And what do I do? Immediately split at the leeward mark and sail into a hole. It’s my knee-jerk reaction to go the other way and go for the pass. I don’t even bother looking over my shoulder before tacking into a tar pit. I deserve the 11 I get as the first score on my card. Thankfully, there’s only one drifter raced that day, and with that 11th, I’m sent packing to the B fleet for the following weekend.

I’ve learned my lesson, again, however, and over the following race days, I focus on ­climbing into the top five. I win a few races along the way, but more importantly, I’m getting ­better at not doing dumb things. Whenever I’m immediately behind, next to or near the lead boat, I am patient. If the opportunity to make a pass comes my way, I take it. I stop forcing the win. I’m good with second (or third or fourth) , I say to myself when following FJ, or speedy Missy Hudspeth across the ­finish. I accept this.

On the Sunday of Week 6, I finally find myself at the top of the standings with a 1-2 on my birthday. What a gift. The season is no longer mine to win; it is indeed mine to lose. From then on, Ritt and I battle with an unspoken vigor—two old men going at it in tubby little white boats. It’s our Sunday afternoon raison d’être, and for the remainder of the season, I’m true to my rule: Keep it cool; keep the points. Nothing crazy. Nothing fancy.

It’s working for me, and on the 23rd and final race of the season, I somehow nail a dream start; full speed, on the line, giant hole to leeward, and launched to a season-ending high. Hallelujah. 

That’s my win to report, but I also have a loss worth sharing with longtime, and the most astute, readers of this magazine. Those of you in this group might recall a series of stories back in the day written by Sailing World ’s previous staffers about a 26-foot fractional sloop named AO .

This particular pocket yacht is an Albin Express 26 One-Design, drawn by Peter Norlin and built in the mid-1980s. It’s kind of like a J/24 but different. Past senior editor and de facto historian Herb McCormick was around when the magazine’s owners procured the boat and added it to the employee ­benefits package.

The Another Opinion origin story goes back to the early 1980s, when Murray Davis, the publisher of Cruising World , acquired it as a perk for the magazine’s staff to sail and enjoy, McCormick says. “It was actually a bit of a spiteful ­gesture. Davis had wanted to trade out advertising pages with J/Boats to score the hot new J/24. When he was rebuffed by the Johnstones, he ­pivoted to Swedish builder Albin, and ­suddenly Cruising World was the steward of a new Albin Express, a popular one-design on lakes in Sweden. The idea was to crush the J/24 whenever the opportunity arose.”

But there were problems with Murray’s plan, McCormick says. “First, of course, the J/24 was also a one-design that rarely sailed in PHRF fleets. But more importantly, as we discovered at Block Island Race Week, the Albin’s blade jib was a serious liability upwind versus a J/24’s overlapping genoa. Someone got crushed all right. It was us.”

For more than three decades, AO served its purpose as the ultimate perk: Corporate paid the yard bills and gave great joy to employees—harbor cruises, first dates, music festivals, race weeks, and PHRF beer canning. It was an editorial project boat to test out new gear and DIY stories, a Frankenstein’s monster of half-finished projects.

The Cruising World staff would lay claim to it and pile their crap on board: piles of anchors and useless boating gadgets. Rolling sails wasn’t their thing. Sailing World editors Dan Dickison and Tim Robinson once whipped AO into proper Wednesday-night shape. It was stripped to bare bones and lost its luster at the hands of neglect. With company X, Y or Z’s name on the registration, no one was ever willing to put their own money into it. Sweat equity, sure, because there was bottom sanding and seasonal cleaning, but that’s about it. Simple boats don’t need much, and this was the beauty of AO . Ugly in her old age but a fine sailing yacht in all conditions.

As Cruising World and Sailing World ’s editorial staff dwindled over the years and corporate eventually closed the Newport office, I became the sole and final caretaker of the company yacht. And over the past few years, I’ve taught a lot of newbies and friends the finer points of sailing through the harbor. I’ve cruised the lower bay with the family and sailed its stretches solo. My wife eventually started her own ladies’ night, a cockpit full of school teachers on summer break, lapping the harbor while they lapped up cocktails. It served its purpose and we did right by AO , but like other ­staffers before me, I never sank an extra dime into it.

By last summer, AO was ­certainly showing its age: its gray topsides faded and scuffed, the white deck stained and chalky. I’m ashamed to admit that I used an entire roll of double-wide Dacron sticky back to hold the jib together. The interior was no better—salty and dank. No bilge pump, no battery or working lights, and a Home Depot bucket for the ladies. My 13-year-old refused my every sleep-aboard offer because the interior was “gross.”

Last fall, while preparing the boat for a looming hurricane, I tugged on the jib halyard and it wouldn’t budge. The top swivel was jammed. I pulled hard at the luff again, and it came down, all right—the entire rig along with it. The forestay had parted at the tang swage. Dismasted at the mooring. Now that was a new low for AO , which we towed north a few weeks later and hauled out for the season at the Safe Harbor New England Boatworks.

The yard guys must have sensed AO ’s fate, backing its transom into the scrub bushes in the dumpiest corner of the yard, where it now sits, likely home to Safe Harbor’s resident raccoons. At the time, I had intentions of ordering new standing rigging and buying a jib. But the Frostbite racing ­season came, along with winter regatta travel, and the wellness visits stopped. 

The magazines were sold to our current owners this past fall, and in the due diligence, it became known that “we” own a company yacht, and that it too must be divested. I offered $1. They declined, so I figured that was the end of it until another email came much later, from our previous company’s legal department. They’d read the storage contract, and it was their intent to default on the late fees and allow Safe Harbor to auction it off.

The thought of losing AO weighed on me as I considered buying it off the block. It’s a piece of my Newport identity, a ship of memories and comic adventures, a vessel good of times. My daughter half-pleaded for me not to give AO away, and I hemmed and hawed for days, but I’d already decided: time to move on. I can’t afford to maintain it properly, and Safe Harbor has outpriced my paycheck.

Which brings us back the boat’s original name and to our historian, Mr. McCormick, who informs us that Another Opinion was the title of a Cruising World column where boat owners would share info with interested parties about their boat. “Most casual observers who hailed us always asked if we were ­doctors,” McCormick says. “Hence, the handle (and eventually the two giant letters on its topsides) was soon shortened to just AO . It was easier for everyone that way.”

While we’re disappointed about losing the company yacht, we’ll take this loss as a win. It’s an opportunity to find an AO -worthy replacement for new adventures.

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Crash of an Antonov AN-24 in Moscow

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The Unique Burial of a Child of Early Scythian Time at the Cemetery of Saryg-Bulun (Tuva)

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Pages:  379-406

In 1988, the Tuvan Archaeological Expedition (led by M. E. Kilunovskaya and V. A. Semenov) discovered a unique burial of the early Iron Age at Saryg-Bulun in Central Tuva. There are two burial mounds of the Aldy-Bel culture dated by 7th century BC. Within the barrows, which adjoined one another, forming a figure-of-eight, there were discovered 7 burials, from which a representative collection of artifacts was recovered. Burial 5 was the most unique, it was found in a coffin made of a larch trunk, with a tightly closed lid. Due to the preservative properties of larch and lack of air access, the coffin contained a well-preserved mummy of a child with an accompanying set of grave goods. The interred individual retained the skin on his face and had a leather headdress painted with red pigment and a coat, sewn from jerboa fur. The coat was belted with a leather belt with bronze ornaments and buckles. Besides that, a leather quiver with arrows with the shafts decorated with painted ornaments, fully preserved battle pick and a bow were buried in the coffin. Unexpectedly, the full-genomic analysis, showed that the individual was female. This fact opens a new aspect in the study of the social history of the Scythian society and perhaps brings us back to the myth of the Amazons, discussed by Herodotus. Of course, this discovery is unique in its preservation for the Scythian culture of Tuva and requires careful study and conservation.

Keywords: Tuva, Early Iron Age, early Scythian period, Aldy-Bel culture, barrow, burial in the coffin, mummy, full genome sequencing, aDNA

Information about authors: Marina Kilunovskaya (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dvortsovaya Emb., 18, Saint Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation E-mail: [email protected] Vladimir Semenov (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dvortsovaya Emb., 18, Saint Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation E-mail: [email protected] Varvara Busova  (Moscow, Russian Federation).  (Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation). Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  Dvortsovaya Emb., 18, Saint Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation E-mail:  [email protected] Kharis Mustafin  (Moscow, Russian Federation). Candidate of Technical Sciences. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.  Institutsky Lane, 9, Dolgoprudny, 141701, Moscow Oblast, Russian Federation E-mail:  [email protected] Irina Alborova  (Moscow, Russian Federation). Candidate of Biological Sciences. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.  Institutsky Lane, 9, Dolgoprudny, 141701, Moscow Oblast, Russian Federation E-mail:  [email protected] Alina Matzvai  (Moscow, Russian Federation). Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.  Institutsky Lane, 9, Dolgoprudny, 141701, Moscow Oblast, Russian Federation E-mail:  [email protected]

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