Im looking for a moderately priced racer/cruiser with a good PHRF track record for east coast sailing- thinking of J35, Express 34, Peterson 34, Frers 33- Any comments on how they do comparatively in PHRF(I can guage the cruising part) Any other suggestions?
The J will be the fastest boat (NE-PHRF) of around 80 and the Peterson and Frers about 30 to 40 seconds slower per mile all things being equal. However, keep in mind that some boats sail to their PHRF ratings well and others do not. What I mean by this is that on paper the and in the hands of a very skilled sailor and crew in ideal conditions, the boat should perform to it's rating. If their is any deviations from the ideal/best conditions, the boat doesn't. Other boats will sail faster or are more forgiving with respect to their PHRF rating. The reason why I mention this is if you want to race in PHRF races only (and not just one-design), look at boats that sail well or exceed their rating, not just at the raw number.
Also, in my experience, the J105 (similar sized to the J35) is a less than ideal PHRF boat as it doesn't sail well to it's rating (86/90 ish). Consequently, it often gets creamed in PHRF only races after the results are adjusted for the handicaps. This isn't an issue when it sails in it's on class since every boat is the same.
Knowing nothing about any of the boats that you have listed, if you want a fast cruiser as opposed to a racer/cruiser, I'd opted for a wheel instead of a tiller (J35). The wheel gives more cockpit space when sailing and makes it easier for the non-tiller sailors or non-sailors to helm. While the tiller may have a better feel for racing and performance, the wheel is more convenient. Also the J35 has the traveler in the middle of the cockpit. Again, not an issue for racing or single hand, but takes up room for cruising guests. The Frers 33 has the traveler on the bridge deck, so it is still easily accessible, but a little more out of the way.
The Peterson 34 looks real sparse below for a cruiser. I am only going by the one listed on yachtworld. It is set-up to be a race boat, so really a cruiser. Traverler in cockpit center and tiller.
If you like the J-boats, see if you can find a J35C. Simialr to the J-35 except has a wheel helm and a few more creature comforts, while still being fast.
Very interesting thanks- yes I think the key is how do they perform to their rating. That Peterson 34 in Yacht world, if it is red, is a different boat or configuration than then norm.Its a more stripped down version Im also interested in a T35 ( Thomas) but have never seen one on the east cast. Of all these boats the j35 is the most sparten- can anyone comment on how they perform to their rating. I saw a comment that the Express was not so god in heavy air which would be a problem on the east coast. The Peterson had a reputaion of sailing well to its rating but Im wondering considering its age if that is still true? The J has the lowest rating so Im wondering can it perform to that?Does anyone have knowledge? I know nothing about the T35
If you are going to race in a NE-PHRF circuit get a boat that sails well to it's rating and worry less about the absolute number. I can't comment on the boats below only to say that a J105 is a lousy PHRF boat because it doesn't easily sail to it's rating. A J35 is a slightly different boat and I here it does better.
Ask around and look for a boat in the 30 to 35 ft range, that can cruise and have nice amenities, but also can get up and go. Case and point, my boat a Pearson 10M, has PHRF rating of somewhere around 140. Seems slow compared to a J35 or J105, but it will sail to and some times exceed it's rating. Last week I wasn't in a race per se, but left the harbor about 300 yards behind a Tartan 3500, whose PHRF is around 111. He probably had newer sails and definitely had a more modern and faster hull design. I am guessing at the start he had about 30 to 40 seconds on us. Even though my boat has a 2 year old main and a 18 yearold 135% jib, we not only caught him, we outright (No time adjust) beat him after about 5 to 6 miles of "racing" by 40 seconds. So we covered roughly the same distance a minute or so quicker than he did. In all fairness, he may have not been "racing" us, but with a 30 second/mile advantage and 30 second head start, he should have smoked us or at least not lost a full minute plus to us in only 5 miles of light wind.
I would only look at the PHRF numbers a general measure of which boat is "faster". So if you want a fast cruiser, and only race it occasionally, get one with a low PHRF rating. If you really want to race your cruiser, get one that may not necessarily have the lowest number, but one that sails to it's PHRF, even if the PHRF is 120 to 150.
I think the J35 and the Frers are good PHRF boats from what I have been told. I know the J105 isn't. Can't say about the other two that you listed.
In theory they all perform to their ratings, but that will vary locally. That's one reason why each PHRF region adjusts their own ratings. Some boats "beat" their ratings regularly in heavy weather--or light weather. If your region has the right wx...nuff said?
Then some boats are infamous for being hard to trim to a narrow slot where they will perform very well, while others don't ever match the performance, but are much easier to get 95% performance all the time. That's going to reflect on your skill and your crew, if you don't have a regular and dedicated crew, and your boat is finicky about trim...good luck.
And then there are local OD and other considerations. J/35s have been known as the "headsail of the week" club. A lot of owners put a LOT of money into them, and if that means five headsails and replacing three of them every season, you're not going to compete against them unless your wallet is equally large.
I'd suggest asking your local PHRF committee what their experience has been with those boats, and the owners of those boats, and then if you can, reach outside your region to see what other information you can get on specifics.
I would look for boats that have well established ratings in your area and ideally enough boats for one design where you will race. Most racer cruisers have a finite life and the more race they are the more finite that lifespan. A lot of race boats are raced hard and put away wet and that leads to deck core issues etc. Some boats like the Express are built to a high quality level but they are much harder to find. For racing I was at the point before I sold my Frers 36 that I was convinced one design was the only way to go for as it becomes more a sailors game than a money game. As the boats get larger and faster, having the best sails, bottom, etc really matters. Of course you have to pull a great crew together as well.
Thanks folks- great thoughts- Anyone out there have direct experience with these boats? Im especially interested in the Peterson 34. Does anyone know if it is identical or different than the OOD 34? Hull and rigging I mean, I know the layout is different
The Peterson 34 is an older IOR design and a bit of a handful downwind in a blow. I've seen one at our club retrofitted with a cruising interior which was ok inside. Don't know how much that affected performance. To assess what might be a good PHRF rating for your area- take a look at the rating band of the fleet you want to race in, assess the prevailing conditions, and then find a boat that does well in those conditions consistently to its rating. Nationally the J-35s rate 72 and can sail to that rating in average conditions with a crew of 8-9. If the prevailing conditions are light air, a Schock 35 also rates 72 and performs consistently better than the J. The Thomas 35 rates about the same but always has had issues with headstay tension and the fractional rig. Lindy Thomas (boats namesake) converted his to a masthead rig for better all around performance. Note Lindy has had a T-35 for years which might say something. Another good boat in that rating band is an Express 37 which is faster off the wind and upwind in light air than the J-35.
The other conditions that affect your decision should be the cost of sails and how many talented crew you would need to race with. The aforementioned J-105 in PHRF trim can be a weapon. Put a 150% genoa and a 110sq mtr kite and the 105 is a different animal which can be raced with 2-3 less people than a J-35.
Does it really matter? What you have to think about is what type of boats you are racing against. I raced J30s in one-design and in PHRF races in the Chesapeake. In the end a lot of times the guy who gets clean air soonest wins. From this perspective, in a PHRF situation, the fastest boat tends to win, even after the PHRF adjustment. Notice that the PHRF adjustment does not consider the boats against which you are racing. For example there is not a J35 PHRF against a J30 and a different PHRF for the J35 against the 105. PHRF only works (approximately) if you are racing against boats that are roughly of the same speed as your boat. If you are in a small community with shockingly different boats, PHRF ratings will not do the slow boats justice. Think of it this way: The PHRF concept would work if each of the boats went up the course independently, but does not consider the interactions between boats. Slow boats tend to get screwed by fast boats. That's why I liked one-design races. True talent rises up.
Just the same, great comments on mainsheet location and tiller wrt cruising. I didn't know about the J35C. Great discussion. I'm looking at a bigger boat but am concerned that it will make racing a joke if there aren't similar boats in the area. Not much yelling "starboard" if there's nobody around.