The reality is that the J-30 is a better sailing boat all around. While I personally am not a huge fan of J-boats for a variety of reasons not relevant to this particular model, the J-30 was one of the best all-around racer/performance coastal cruiser of its era. And while I am fan of many of Schocks offerings; Santana 35, Shock 30/30, Schockwave 30, the 525 (I'd buy a 525 any day before I would buy a J-24) being some of them, having personally spent a fair amount time on both of these boats, the J-30 is clearly the better built and better sailing of the two, and certainly much more forgiving and easy to handle.
That said, the cored decks on the Schock and the cored hulls and decks on the J-30 need to examined carefully, since both were built at time when cored composite construction techniques were still quite crude.
This thread has a number of misleading discussion points. The first has to do with relative rigging sizes. Conceptually the rig designs of these two boats come from very different worlds. The rig on the Santana 30 derives from the IOR era, and is a mast head rig. Masthead rigs of that era relied on very stiff spars held in column and so produced extremely high rigging loads on the attachment points and hull. Going upwind in a breeze the loads inparted into the attachment points could be 3-4 times the displacement of the boat.
The J-boats has a fractional rig which is actually a more traditional rig, by which I mean the cruising rig that was popular before rating rules like the IOR rule corrupted rig proportions and sail plans. Fractional rigs in general inpart less load into the hull and attachment points than a mast head rig, and this is especially true in the case of a rig like the J-30's which employs an intensionally flexible mast to permit quick depowering. The size of rigging components and deck hardware, therefore do not reflect a reduction in the margin of safety, but only reflect that the lower forces that result from the difference in design concept between the two boats.
The statement, "The S/30 shrouds are some 30% stronger, but somehow word on the street was that the J/30 had some super extraordinary over built shrouds." seems to me to be a classic case of a manufacturer (not J-boat) hyping their product with a misleading statement. The S-30 may have heavier shrouds but their narrower shroud base, stiffer spar, and masthead rig make this necessary if the same margin of safety is to be maintained.
The second gross misstatement is that somehow a solid hull is stronger than a cored hull. While this is a broad generality, Cored hulls are generally several time stronger and stiffer than an equal weight non-cored hull. Cored hulls are less prone to fatigue as well and so in the absense of of core rot (a big 'if') retain more of thier strength over the life of the boat. In the case of the Santana 30 and the J-30, which have similar ballast to weight and hull weight (the Santana Hull and interior being approximately 250 lbs heavier) I would expect the J-30 to have a substantially stronger and stiffer hull than the Santana, and with its more sophiticated internal framing system and lower keel and rig stresses, I would expect the J-30 to hold that strength longer. But of course this is dependent on the hull coring being intact. And that is a big item. Any boat with a cored hull needs to be inspected more carefully by an extremely competent surveyor. (Unlike a deck) if the hull is relatively free of core problems after all these years it will in all probabilty remains so in the future. But if it has problems, the repairs are expensive and likely to be problematic if ignored.
The reality is that the J-30 remains as a popular one design class so there are a lot of J-30's out there which were or are still raced. Many if not most of these boats have been structurally maintained and upgraded over the years. You can find J-30's very reasonable prices with well maintained hulls, modern sail inventory, electronics and deck gear. The same cannot be said of the Santana 30's.
The third mistatement is that the J-30 does not sail well in light air. Like any boat of this era, the J-30's light air performance is not as good as the better designs which followed.
In the Sailing World review of the J-30 they said,
"The J/30 is noted for heavy-air performance. It holds its own in moderate and light air as well, but really excels when it’s windier. The boat has several cruising amenities (standing headroom, enclosed head, large icebox, and hot water) for those who want to dual-purpose."
"Holding its own in light air" is not the same as "being a pig in light air". In fact its the opposite. Having raced a Santana 30 and against Santana 30, I would take the J-30 any time across the entire wind range, but especially at the light and heavy ends of the range.
Lastly as a cruiser, one of the really nice things about the J-30 is that the J-30 starts out being much easier boat to sail short-handed than the Santana, and it can be set up with a cruising sail inventory which allows minimally overlapping heads sails capable of extremely wide wind ranges, making it even easier still.
In contrast, the rig proportions of the Santana result in a dependancy on huge overlapping genoas in lighter air and therefore result in the need for more headsail changes to obtain performance in higher winds due to the headsails being the primary driver in this rig. In a heavier breeze, changing down to a #2 becomes more critical to carry enough sail for drive and still not overwhelm the Santana's significantly lower stability. In my opinion, this makes the Santana 30 a clearly inferior cruising boat from a sailing standpoint. There is virtually no useful difference between the interior layout of these boats except that the J-30 has a little more room and slightly more headroom in the main cabin and slightly less headroom in the forward cabin.
As someone who knows both these boats well, and who does not have a horse in this race, a J-30 in good shape is a no-brainer winner, hands down over a boat like the Santana 30 in equal condition.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies
Last edited by Jeff_H; 01-02-2012 at 01:27 PM.