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GordMay 06-16-2005 01:41 AM

A friend is considering the purchase of a 1986 J-28 (ďAthemĒ), and seeks opinion(s)

Iím not a big fan of J-Boats in general, but then Iíve only worked on a couple of larger Jís, and never sailed one - so Iím not nearly expert.

Iíd much appreciate any information and/or opinions on J-Boats in general, and/or the J-28 in particular.

The purchaser is intending the boat for club-racing, coastal cruising (2 adults + 2 children - Lake Superior), and single-handed sailing.

Thanks in advance,
Gord May

Jeff_H 06-16-2005 05:24 AM

I have always been a fan of the J-28. The J-28 was part of the first generation J-boat cruising series that included the J-40, J37c, J35c, J34c, and the J-28. These were well thought out, wholesome, and nicely detailed boats. They had very workable ergonmics (except that these never should have been offered with wheel steering. (I would avoid buying one with wheel steering since the design, like most small fin keelers requires a fair amount of steering input and the wheel is not all that well suited to the needs of the boat.) These were not exceptionally high performance boats and really never did all that well as race boats, even at a club level. Otherwise they should be a good boat for your friend.

If you friend is looking for a little more performance, he might also consider a Laser 28. They have a very similar layout down below. I had one of those foe nearly 14 years and it was a great boat for my purposes.


GordMay 06-17-2005 04:17 AM

Thanks Jeff.
Have you any information on construction details, build quality, and the like?

Jeff_H 06-17-2005 09:30 AM

I don''t have a whole lot of information specific to the J-28. I have always looked at J-boats as being well above average in terms of build quality. J''s of that era were better built than some of the earliest J''s that had reportedly more extensive delamination and core problems. The J-28 do predate the SCRIMP system, which has further improved TPI''s lamination and core reliability. The few owners of J-28''s that I have encountered were very positive about their boat''s build quality.


GordMay 06-18-2005 01:40 AM

Thanks Jeff.
I was a little concerned about the short production run (only 2 years) on the J-28. I know the mid-eighties was a tough time to introduce a new boat.

thorJ30 06-22-2005 08:59 AM

i have a j 30 which is a different animal than the j 28....

I would have boughbt a j 28 but the asking price was double of my j 30 ...

I really like my boat, its a little handfull when it blows, but you can depower easily ( twist, than reef ) or wht I do actually quite often sail with main alone ( beat a lot of boats upwind very relaxed )

I was also lookin at the laser, which is a better all around phrf boat to race ( especially in light winds ) but I didnt like the looks as much as the J and the wife didnt like the plastic/orange interieur compared to the wood of the j 30

But the J 28 is somewhat a milder race boat and a better cruiser than the j 30 ... just that i didnt have the dough ...

Meanwhile I can get at lkeast 5000 bucks more for my boat than i have spend ,, try to find that with older boats ....
Dont have any wet core, but I also check and rebedd things quite othen...

go for it, you wont be dissapointed


John_colpitts 07-05-2005 04:10 PM

Thor, if you think your J/30 is a handfull when it blows, you should thank your lucky start you didn''t buy the Laser.

The lasers are very light boats, and very lightly built as well. The boats are built for the Lakes (i.e. not much wind)

We raced our J/30 against a Laser frequently - below 10 knots he beat us consistently, 10-15 it was back and forth, but in anything over 15 knots he might as well stay at the dock.

I heard it said more than once (for what it is worth) that the Laser 28 was the reason Laser weren''t bulding boats any more.

e-27 sailor 07-05-2005 07:06 PM

I''m sure Jeff_H will have some comments concerning the Laser 28. As far a "vary light boats, and vary lightly built", there are a lot of truely outstanding boats that embrace both of these concepts, and keep structrual engeneers gainfully employed.

Jeff_H 07-06-2005 09:44 AM

It sounds like you encountered a Laser 28 sailor who was not a good sailor in heavy winds. I will say that Laser 28''s do require some skill to sail well in higher windspeeds. Proper choice of sail and sail trim makes a huge difference in boatspeed on these boats in winds approaching 20 knots.

I would completely disagree with you that the Laser 28''s were built for lake sailing. It is true that were somewhat optimized to perform well at the light end of things but they were also extremely good boats in higher winds, really excelling against the local J-30''s in light air. In heavier conditions, the Lasers had a tough time sailing to their ratings upwind against the J-30''s but really had an easy time beating J-30''s in heavier going if there was a reasonable amount of reaching and down wind work. As you note being pretty much an even match with the J-30''s on corrected time in mid-range winds.

I owned a Laser 28 for nearly 14 years, and raced on several sisterships (as well as J-30''s during that period). Having sailed my Laser 28 in winds that pegged the anomometer aboard a near by boat at 65 knots, I thought that these were surprisingly good heavy air boats. I would not have wanted to spend days at sea in that stuff but I was able to get her to go where I wanted her to go in those heavy conditions. I have done a lot of single-and short handed cruising in my Laser 28 and was very impressed with how she handled winds well into the low 30 knot range (albeit double reefed and rigged with a small heavy fabric 90% jib).

I was amazed at how robust the Laser 28 was. These were beautifully engineered boats, albeit a bit unusual in their construction, expecially for thier day.

You may have heard it said more than once that " Laser 28 was the reason Laser weren''t bulding boats any more" but who ever said it would be incorrect. The Laser 28 was developed independently of the company that built the smaller Lasers by Ian Bruce during the period that he did not own Performance, the company that built the smaller Lasers during that era. When Ian Bruce reacquired Performance, the Laser 28 was added to the Laser line up, but was actually still built by a separate company from the company building the smaller Lasers. That separate company continued building Laser 28''s for several years after Performance had gone belly up. In other words the fortunes of the Laser 28 really had no bearing on the separate company building the small Lasers. What ultimately killed the Laser 28 after a production run world wide reportedly of just under 400 boats was the recession of the late 1980/early 1990''s, the rapid increase in boat building materials in this period (the Laser 28 went from a price of $27,000 fully equipped, in the water, and ready to sail with a trailer in 1985 to $54,000 not fully equipped in 1990) and, perhaps more significantly, the rethinking in racing that lead to single-purpose one- design keel boats such as the Tripp 26, Mumm 30, Melges 24/30 and the J-92 and J-105.

Those who were closer to the company have always said that Performance got into trouble at the start of the 1989 recession by trying to over-diversify too quickly coming out with two different Laser like boats, a new two man trapeze boat based on the Australian skiffs (the name escapes me on this and the two Laser varients), the Laser shell, pulling boat, power skiff, and a variety of still born projects in the same short period.

Both the Laser 28 and a J-30 were good boats for their day. To me the choice between a Laser 28 and a J-30 is one of personal preference rather some universal inherent advantage that one has over the other.


John_colpitts 07-07-2005 09:06 AM


Certainly the skipper that we sailed against was not terribly experienced at heavy air sailing, but he frequently had the boat''s former owner on board, and he was a very experienced skipper, so I can''t totally blame their poor heavy air performance on the new owner. I suspect a big part of the problem was crew weight - as you know the J/30 will go to weather like a freight train with 6 or 7 guys on the rail. The laser usually struggled to get 4 or 5 people on board for a race, so that was to their disadvantage in the heavy stuff for certain. And of course crew weight worked to our disadvantage in the light stuff, along with the fact that we owed them time.

My comment on the build quality of the boats was based (perhaps incorrectly) on 2 factors - these guys frequently broke stuff in any kind of breeze, and one other Laser which came to town for a regatta had deck gear that (IMHO) was more suited to a 22-footer. Having said that, they proceed to do a horizon job on most of the fleet in a 4-day light-air regatta, so I guess the gear was good enough for what they needed.

Thanks for the history lesson, Jeff. I didn''t mean to trash the Lasers. I was just expressing an opinion based on what I have seen and the prevailing conditions here in Nova Scotia.

YMMV (and it obviously did)


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