2017-08-03 / Around Town

When the J's Come to Town

By Sam Crichton


JH1 Lionheart is more than 142 feet long. (Photo JClass-Studio Borlenghi) JH1 Lionheart is more than 142 feet long. (Photo JClass-Studio Borlenghi) Six majestic yachts that can't help but catch your eye are coming to the waters of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound on Aug. 21-26 for 2017 J Class World Championship Regatta.

The J Class boats have a long sailing pedigree, and you can learn about them over the next few weeks when On the Waterfront previews each boat prior to the start of racing. Competing are JK6 Hanuman, JH1 Lionheart, J5 Ranger, JS1 Svea, J8 Topaz and JK7 Velsheda.

This week, we’ll preview Hanuman and Lionheart.

Hanuman, which stretches to nearly 140 feet, was built in 2007 as a replica of the original Endeavour II, which was built in 1937. Endeavour II was constructed to battle the J’s in the America’s Cup Race, as she maximized the waterline to 87 feet but failed to beat Ranger. The original Endeavour II was scrapped in 1968.


Rambler 88 superyacht is built to race. Rambler 88 superyacht is built to race. Under J-Class Association rules, some design features are restricted historically, but performance can be optimized through a more flexible approach to sail area, ballast ratio, righting moment and build materials.

Below decks, interior designer Pieter Beeldsnijder has drawn upon fine traditional materials such as hand-polished French walnut and period design references to create the warmth and ambience of a bygone era, along with the high amenity standards of a modern superyacht.


Sam Crichton, a transplant from Australia, has worked in the sailing industry for more than 16 years both locally and internationally. Sam Crichton, a transplant from Australia, has worked in the sailing industry for more than 16 years both locally and internationally. Hanuman began racing in 2012 at St. Barths Bucket Regatta. Since then, she has regularly competed around the world and has captured numerous J Class regattas, including Division A of the 2013 Loro Piano Superyacht Regatta in the British Virgin Islands, the J Class overall at St. Barths Bucket and the J Class overall at Superyacht Cup in Palma, Spain. In 2014, she competed in the Superyacht Cup in Palma, winning the Kings Hundred Guinea Cup with fellow J Class, Lionheart. Most recently, she won the St. Barths Bucket in a comeback over Velsheda, and then went on the take part in the America's Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America's Cup J Class Regatta. Members of the crew from Newport are Ken Read, Joe Fanelli, Chuck Brown, Casey Smith, Nick Dana, Mike Brady, Tim Hacket and Kyle Martin.

Lionheart is more than 142 feet in length and was launched in 2010. Its roots trace back to 1930 when Harold Vanderbilt defended the America’s Cup in the J-Class Enterprise. When he faced the challenger in Endeavour, with Rainbow in 1934, Vanderbilt discussed the possibility of a new J Yacht under the Universal Rule with Sparkman & Stephens. Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens each presented four designs and the project that would eventually produce Ranger and Lionheart began. Four designs were produced for Vanderbilt; Models 77 A to F and two combinations.

Fast forward to 2005 when Andre Hoek of Hoek Design became involved in analyzing the potential of the seven remaining hulls designed by Burgess and Stephens for the Vanderbilt syndicate. By using both state-of-the-art computer models and traditional water tank testing, Hoek advised to use hull 77-F as the one with the biggest potential. Seventy-five years after she was conceived on the drawing boards, the hull 77-F was built as Lionheart.

Beginning her racing career in 2012, Lionheart won the 100 Guinea Cup Round the Island Race in the Great Britain. In 2015, she won the J Class Falmouth Regatta and the Corinthian Kings Cup (for the first Owner/ driver). Last year, she captured her class in Palma Vela and also at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. In Bermuda earlier this summer, she took part in the America's Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America's Cup J Class Regatta, winning both regattas.

Adrian Stone is the lone crew member from Newport.

Local boats and sailors ready for the Rolex Fastnet race

George David's canting keel maxi, Rambler 88, won the recent RORC Channel Race, making it two wins in a row, having also won the RORC Cowes Dinard St Malo Race. Rambler 88 took line honors in the 160-nautical mile race, and after IRC time correction, was the overall winner of 109 entries.

Local sailors onboard Rambler 88, George David and Mick Harvey, used the Channel Race in preparation for the upcoming Rolex Fastnet Race, which begins on Aug. 6 in Plymouth, England. The 608-nautical mile race has a history of challenging conditions, and the Rambler 88 crew are fully aware of what is ahead of them. The course will take the 340-strong fleet from the start line off Cowes, Isles of Wight towards the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, back around the outside of the Scilly Isles off southwest England to the finish line in Plymouth.

Rambler 88's Project Manager Mick Harvey spoke about the recent Channel Race win. “George [David] is really happy and so is the whole team,” he said. “We wanted to race in good breeze, and we certainly got that. It was a long leg down to the French coast, and we were fully powered up most of the time. On the leg back to the Isle of Wight, we were sitting at over 20 knots for most of the time, and on occasion, we were sending it faster. This has been a good build up to the Fastnet, which is the big event for us."

Joining the fleet will be a number of the teams lining up for the 2017-2018 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, including Vestas 11th Hour Racing, with local sailors Nick Dana and Charlie Enright on board. The Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew will capitalize on the time they spend on the water in preparation for the upcoming 45,000-nautical mile Volvo race.

Dana, who has competed in five Fastnet races, and in 2011 set the record for mono-hulls on board the Volvo 70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, said, “We will be using this race to better understand new sail crossovers and crew work. We will also get to see what the other Volvo teams have got."

Once across the finish line, Dana will head to Newport to join the crew on the Hanuman. "I love the highly technical sailing mechanics needed to sail the J's compared to the drag race across the ocean with the Volvo 65, " said Dana, who has sailed with Hanuman for three years.

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