A “J-Class” yacht is a single masted racing sailboat built to the specifications of Nathanael Herreshoff’s Universal Rule, The J-Class are considered the peak racers of the era when the Universal Rule determined eligibility in the America’s Cup. And we dream they could return…
By the 1980s only three J-Class yachts were still in existence: Shamrock V, Endeavour and Velsheda, all designed by Charles Ernest Nicholson. Velsheda never served for an America’s Cup challenge.
A revival of the J-Class was triggered by Elizabeth Meyer, who oversaw the refits of Endeavour and Shamrock V. For several decades Velsheda lay derelict in the mud of the Hamble river – she was refitted in 1984, too, and then more thoroughly in 1997.
In August 2001, as part of the celebration of the 150th Jubilee of America’s Cup celebration, the three existing J-Class racers were brought to the Isle of Wight for a round the island race.
The creation of the J-Class Association in 2000 and the launch of a new replica of Ranger in 2004 accelerated the revival of the class. Several replicas and original designs were subsequently built and the association now organizes races for the J-Class in Newport, Falmouth and Cowes.
The current J Class fleet comprises nine boats: Endeavour, Hanuman, Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, Shamrock V, Velsheda, Topaz, and, launched in January 2017, Svea.
Ten yachts were built to the J-Class rule between 1930 and 1937, six in America and four in Great Britain.
Other boats raced in J-Class regattas: The yachts Katoura (Starling Burgess, 1927), Resolute (Nathanael Herreshoff, 1914) and Vanitie (William Gardner, 1914) served as trial horses and most International Rule 23mR yachts were converted to the J-Class, of which three remain in existence: Astra, Cambria and Candida.