It is probably safe to say that no racer-cruiser
in the annals of fiberglass sailboat
production elevated the self-esteem
of sailors as dramatically as the J/35.
When introduced in the spring of 1983,
it was the closest thing to instant
gratification in an offshore handicap
racer and one-design.
made the J/35's dazzling performance
so accessible to sailors of varying
experience and ability? Primarily it
was the pure hull form: an easily driven
shape free of the rating rule induced
exaggerations that made other handicap
racers of the 1980s cranky and difficult
to sail. With its light weight and long
sailing length, big but uncomplicated
rig, and sensible deck layout, the J/35
was graced with a responsive yet forgiving
nature over a wide range of conditions.
These endearing characteristics gave
the J/35 a parallel life as cruising
boat. Easily handled by a family, it
offered plenty of space below for accommodations
that were plain but practical.
J/35 was created in response to a
downturn in the US economy. To attract
buyers in the offshore racer-cruiser
category, the brothers who ran J Boats,
Bob Johnstone (marketing) and Rod
Johnstone (designer), decided to modify
one of Rodís earlier designs,
the J/36. With a slightly shorter
hull, improved keel with a lower center
of gravity, a masterhead instead of
fractional rig, and cost reductions
from eliminating wheel-steering and
making some cabin amenities optional,
the new 35-footer was an instant hit
($49,500 base - $30,000 less than
its predecessor). More than 170 boats
were sold in the first three years,
with more than 300 sailing today.
In the words of Bob Johnston, the
reason for the J/35s enduring appeal,
"it's a magical boat that turns
good sailors into great sailors."