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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I live in the midwest and have raced dinghies and catamarans. I am looking to move into a bigger boat for open fleet races. Right now I am considering a Sonar or a J/24. I have no experience on either boat, but they both seem in the right size/speed range that I am looking for. What are the pros and cons of each? Are there any other boats I should look at?

Thanks,
 

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I have sailed only the j24 and mostly as crew. The j24 is a very uncomfortable boat, but a good racer. It sails very well to its rating, but the best point is one design racing. Simple, the boat who finishes first wins. There are good fleets all over the world with some very good sailors. There are some areas that have good Sonar fleets for one design, but I do not know if there are any near you.

The j24 is usually sailed with 5 crew. The Sonar with three. The Sonar is supposedly a very comfortable boat and sails very well. The j24 is probably a harder boat to sail well due to a fairly small rudder, but it CAN be sailed very well which makes it a fun challenging boat. Finding two others to crew for you is easier than finding four.

The j22 is also a great boat with huge one design fleets. It is usually sailed with three.

If you want to race PHRF then there are many other boats that are great.
Capri 25, San Juan 7.7, S2-7.9, Etchells, Merit 22 and 25, Ranger 22 and 25, Soveral 27, Impulse 26, ect. ect.

The 20 foot sportboats look awesome. Viper (my dream boat) , U20, Melges 20, Open 5.7,
 

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I'd add the Olson 25 to that list. :)
 

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J24 comfort is a ***** :(

The helmsman and trimer get comfort EVERYBODY else sits on top of the boat which when your racing is not bad as you need them on the rail

BUT the slide across the deck every time you tack is not everybodys idea of fun
 

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I never sailed a J/24, but have sailed Sonars a few times. No cabin at all, except a cuddy for fender and cooler storage. Handles and turns on a dime. Fun, dry in the cockpit. Seems fast, especially compared to my Seaward. (A rowboat's faster than my Seaward!)
Never liked going forward to drop the headsail, though.
Mike
 

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I raced on a Sonar a few years back. I liked it; it has generous cockpit. As others mentioned, the cabin is small, but I'd rather have the cockpit space. I have also raced on a J24. It's a racing machine, but has a relatively small cockpit with a traveler in the middle.
 

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Fleets near us have both Sonars and J/24's racing. When the Sonars start first, some of the J/24's end up finishing before some of the Sonars. When the J/24's start first, some of the Sonars end up finishing before some of the J/24's. They're both relatively quick boats. As some above have mentioned, the J/24 is more crew-dependent, and is less comfortable for racing. (For racing, you really only want the helmsman in the cockpit. Everyone else is up on deck, and changing sides in a tack is a mad-dash inverse of running hurdles as everyone tries to duck the boom, not get tangled in the vang, and not fall down the main hatch while the boat swings around.) The Sonar is much more comfortable, with contoured cockpit seats and an angled seat back to lean against. I believe Sonar class rules prohibit hiking as well. They're both decent boats, though, with good competitive fleets nationwide, and used versions available at reasonable (less than $10k) prices. Your best bet might be to talk with people from any fleets near you and see who you like sailing with better.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for the great conversation. It looks like I couldn't go too far astray with either pick. And thanks for the other options as well. I don't see a fleet springing up in this area anytime in the near future, so I won't have to worry about sticking to a class one design. It looks like I will just have to start watching for the right opportunity to present itself!
 
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