The J/80 is the perfect combination of family dayboat and one-design raceboat. Thanks to its simplicity, its strength and its performance record, this 8m trail-able keelboat has become a worldwide reference, and remains so despite being launched two decades ago.
The J/80 is easily controlled, forgiving and sea-kindly but at the same time incredibly exciting to sail and race. The advanced composite construction ensures that for its size, the boat is faster, lighter and stronger than its contemporaries, which is why it has become the best-selling sportsboat in Europe. The J/80 is also the only sportsboat that is certified for offshore sailing and capable of over 18 knots, yet designed to sail under just the mainsail to cruise with friends and family. Sailing World magazine rated the J/80 as easier to handle, less intimidating, safer and better suited for sailing offshore than other modern sportsboats tested. The most important standard when it comes to sailing in open waters is stability. The J/80’s 650kg lead keel weighs nearly the same as the leading competitor’s entire boat.
The J/80 class is competitive, but at the same time extremely friendly. In the UK there are active fleets in the Solent, Plymouth, Cardiff, East Coast and Scotland – with many more racing under IRC around the country at their local clubs. The fleet are happy to encourage, offer advice, and lend a hand. If you are looking for serious yet friendly racing, for the fun of sailing a boat that you can cruise as well as race, the J/80 is a super choice.
The J/80 World Championships typically attract more than 70 boats, in the UK the National Championships have brought together as many as 25 to 30 teams. The boat races with 4 or 5 members, so finding crew is easy. As well as husband and wife teams, groups of friends, and young sailors who are moving from dinghies into keelboats, J/80 teams often include professional racers or internationally famous Olympic racers. The J/80 has become a popular choice for sailing schools too; the large cockpit and easy to handle components enable enjoyable and sociable teaching on a spirited performance boat.
The J/80 is certified for Design Category B of the EU Recreational Craft Directive which states that qualifying boats are designed for waves up to 13 feet high with winds to 41 knots, or conditions which may be encountered on offshore voyages of sufficient length or on coasts where shelter may not always be immediately available. That these conditions may also be experienced on inland seas (or lakes) of sufficient size for the wave height to be generated. Other monohull sportsboats we know of with retractable sprits under 30′ are rated for Category C, ‘designed’ for waves of less than 7 feet and winds less than 33 knots or conditions which might be encountered on exposed inland waters, in estuaries, and in coastal waters in moderate weather conditions.
“The J/80 is a beautiful boat to sail. At a basic level it is very kind and forgiving, the two of us have had great fun gently sailing up the Beaulieu River for lunch. At the other end of the spectrum racing the boat hard requires great team effort to be successful, 14 knots on the plane is not something you forget easily. For me it is the ultimate escape from everyday work pressures. I think the strength of the boat is overlooked because I understand the boat is designed to offshore racing standards, which in my view sets it apart from other sportsboats, intrinsically making a very safe hard wearing boat that retains its value very well” J/80 owner.