Thanks for posting we all appreciate your insight.
In fact is amazing that a boat narrow as the J 105 and with a transom hull design maximized for upwind sailing can be ocean raced downwind with a crew of two for many days. That does not only say very well about the boat balance and design but also about the crew. Chapeau to you
I have some questions: Downwind could you leave at speed the boat on autopilot?
Do you have sailed with short crew boats more adapted to short crew or solo sailing and if so can you comment on the differences, specially going fast downwind?
The J 105 was surprisingly stable downwind under pilot. I wish I could remember which type we were using (already 13 years ago), but it was ram-driven under the deck, attached directly to the rudder post, so very responsive.
Obviously, sail trim was crucial in breeze with big swells, and we often went with a single reef in the main and switched down from .75 kite to 1.5 reacher, to accommodate the rapid changes in apparent wind as the boat accellerated down the face of waves. We only had A-sails, so didn't have to test the pilot under VMG conditions (although you can sail a J 105 at suprisingly deep angles - as deep as 160-165 AWA - under asymmetrical in offshore conditions, without fear of a round-down and kite-around-the-headstay adventure).
Since we were doublehanded, most of the time spent on watch was alone (we stood 3-3, except during squally conditions at night, when we went 2:2 and sometimes just slept in the cockpit). So I would say the pilot drove much of the time, especially at night, and very effectively. Indeed, there were times at night when the pilot was sailing much better than I could, and allowed me to concentrate on sail trim instead.
The funny thing is, while we had raced the J 105 for 3-4 years, including offshore, we only did one doublehanded race on it - the Doublehanded Farallones Race, in 2000, shortly before the start of the Pacific Cup. But the boat is so easy to sail that it wasn't a problem. And in 2000+ miles we only experienced one equipment failure, when the tack line block at the end of the sprit broke. However, we had rigged a safety line from the tack to the stem-head fitting, so didn't even wrap the kite - quick take-down, replace the block, and re-set. Maybe 20 minutes.
Many people complain that the J 105 is underpowered, which is true in OD configuration for light-air venues. But for San Francisco Bay it was plenty powered-up, and for offshore as well. As I said, it benefits from wider sail options, of course, but I don't think it hurts the rating much under IRC or ORC. Accommodations, of course, are quite sparse for extended cruising, but luxurious compared to a Mini 6.50.