I am not gonna claim that I am a J24 god or anything close but I do have some solid experience with one. I hope this doesnt come across wrong.
I was a little surprised by the strong opinions people were posting in response to the guy (Tom) in a thread discussing sailing one from FL to NYC. I do not believe they are nearly as fragile as some people were stating. We raced one out of waikiki for 3 years or so several days a week. We had that boat in some sizeable swells and typical 15-20 knot trades many many times. Sure that side is protected and the swells are smaller but when you round Diamond Head heading east there is some big water there and the J24 handled it just fine. There was a larger 35ish ft racer that usually raced there that was knocked down twice in seas the J24 handled just fine. Maybe that was in part due to it having an extreme racing profile and maybe it was partly how the crew handled it. I just dont believe for a second that the J24 is so fragile as some think.
Would I sail off into the deep blue with one? No way, no how. Would I suggest someone buy it for even day cruising, nope. Would I recommend it for the trip that guy was taking? Nope.
There are some advantageous with learning on one though. You can get one fairly cheap. You get to learn alot about sail trim as you can feel immediate response from very small adjustments on the vang, downhauls, outhauls, stay and shroud tension and the list goes on and on. I am not pointing fingers here or questioning people sailing knowledge but after sailing that J24 for a while we learned alot about trimming a sail and rarely did we ever see a cruiser that had their sails trimmed as good as they should be. Maybe thats just the attitude you get when you sail offshore for many miles but I cannot see myself cruising around in anything with poorly trimmed sails. I dont know as I have never been offshore sailing.
Does it take some knowledge and a careful hand? Sure, but it is a capable boat in even 20-25 winds with 15-20 ft swells. You have to be careful to not get broached but the best sailing moment I have had come on that J24 surfing big swells downwind.
There just seem to be a lot of them sinking during bad weather. Generally because the hatch and slides weren't in place during a broach or a knockdown while racing.
It's a day racer, not a coastal cruiser. Great to learn on, and to race round the buoys on. But each design has its limits. I'm not sure I'd welcome 15-20' swells unless the wave period was really long, and probably not even then. And while a lightweight racer might handle the conditions, the motion may be pretty quick and will tend to beat up the crew.
I wouldnt dream of sailing it in bad weather and I wasnt implying that you could load it up and cruise around in it just fine either. The posts I saw though implied that the boat wouldnt handle anything but a gentle breeze in a sheltered bay.
One of the biggest problems with a J/24 is the cockpit lazarette. Never sail with that locker open and keep it dogged shut if you can. If the boat gets knocked down, even if the dropboards and companionway are closed, the lazarette can sink the boat if it is open.
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