I can't comment on the J22 but I have owned, raced and cruised in a J24 and they are a good yacht that handles well when reefed. The reason I bought my J24 was the lack of windows, many nights sleeping dry proved it to be a good decision.
2 reefs in and I have safely got home in 30+ knots without crew.
As novices, its worth setting at least the first reef in before leaving the jetty if the winds outside are lively. Its easy to shake a reef out and you know how to set it again if needed.
Regarding the comments about inclinometers and heeling, what rubbish. A yacht needs to be sailed in a manner that keeps all onboard safe and comfortable.
My current 24 foot yacht sails flat and fast reaching hull speed close hauled from about 8 knot to 20 knot winds and properly sailed she stays flat and fast.
In 20 knot winds she reaches at 10 to 12 knots hull speed flat and fast on main and jib.
My best run was in 20-25 knot winds under main and jib at 8 to 10 knot hull speed, again flat and fast for over 2 hours.
Sail an old fashioned keel boat and some heel is understandable but get in a more modern lighter yacht and enjoy speeds bigger yachts dream of, while relaxed at the tiller and flat and fast.
So a good skipper manages the yacht so everyone feels safe and comfortable, if that means reefing or motorsailing to give crew time to get use to a yacht and its motion that is ok. Changing course or staying in protected waters has no shame compared with upsetting crew.
A light yacht like the J24 is very safe when reefed and it can be sailed in comfort without putting the decks under. They can be sailed with rail meat to the point they submarine and sink, that is something the skipper controls, its not a characteristic of any particular yacht.
Last edited by INMA; 12-08-2011 at 12:18 AM.