PLEASE critique my new J/80!

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Postby Guest » Sun Mar 04, 2001 11:54 am

Just put a deposit on a new fall special boat (#340). Have had larger boats in the past, looking forward to simplifying while still having great fun. Will probably daysail/race about 50/50. Here are my specific plans/questions, but I've never owned a J/80 so I INVITE criticism where you think I might be going astray. Thanks in advance for your help.

1. Are the polars on this site pretty accurate?

2. 135% genoa. We sail on Lake Michigan, decent wind spring and fall but can be very, very light in summer. Thought I wanted a 155%, but noticed old forum discussions seemed to favor the 135% and I don’t want to spring for both. According to my calcs, OD upwind SA/D is 28. With a 135% it would be 32, with a 150% it would be 34. 135% would be easier to handle, cheaper (albeit not much) and perform about the same. Frankly, I don’t know what local PHRF will do to my rating.

3. Not at all sure where the genoa tracks should go. Will consult with sailmaker and J-Boats unless one of you knows how to locate dead certain. I understand the North 135% are/can be made to trim off the standard tracks (I like their location for jib cross sheeting).

4. My boat has a 0.5oz poly spinnaker instead of the standard (.75oz I assume). If I’m reading the rules right it’s not OD legal. I’m afraid the wind range for this sail might be somewhat limited and I’ll have to buy a .75oz anyway.

5. Confused on what size a-sail comes with the fall package. I assumed it was a 65 sqm, but I see on the Harken Compu-Spec that it shows 50 sqm as the OD a-sail. Anyone know for sure? The 65 sqm works out to a mind-numbing (for me anyway) downwind SA/D of 71! Hope we can hold on!

6. I’m fine with main and jib halyard at the mast, but I do see value in having the a-sail halyard fed back to the cockpit. Understand the boat doesn’t really come rigged for this. What hardware and where do most of you add for this, I’m told it’s a common mod?

7. Planning on putting on a Yamaha 4HP 4-stroke with long shaft mounted directly on the transom. Know it’s heavier, but like the economy and cleanliness. Not sure I understand those who advocate a separate motor mount. Would I be better off with internal or external tank?

8. Have always had inboard with batteries charged off same. Not sure how to keep J/80 battery topped up. What do most of you do?

9. Planning on Raytheon ST40 Bidata (speed/depth). Also seriously considering ST40 Wind (I’m told that it will have to be disabled to be legal for class racing). Boat comes with a TackTick Compass.

10. I leave the boat in the water, dry sailing isn’t really an option. Planning on epoxy barrier coat and VC-17 (I’m in freshwater).

11. Cushions from Almar (concession to the wife although I expect they’ll fly all over down below every time we’re out)

12. Was set on converting to Harken Windward Sheeting car because my last boat had it and it was great, but noticed that most of you use continuous line for traveler control which makes WW sheeting unnecessary, and elegant solution that I picked up on this forum.

13. I will have to make provisions for some storage on the boat, hard to imagine why J-Boats didn’t provide more storage --- but easy to resolve personally (maybe that’s why).

14. Am going to try to go without rigid vang even though I’m used to one. Can a rigid vang be used with padeye/bail provided or will I have to attach additional hardware?

Thanks again if you made it this far...

Postby Guest » Sun Mar 04, 2001 2:14 pm

Welcome aboard. I'll comment on a couple of questions or concerns.

Re the .5 chute, its not class legal nor is it a chute that would qualify as being "all purpose." I believe the class rules state that it must be a minimum of .6. In my opinion, the chute needs to be of a weight that will allow it to function as an "all purpose chute." I fly a .75 (600 Airex) chute. Although, some have said that that I'm "not fast" in the light stuff, I don't think I'm that far behind. However, when the wind is blowing 25+, I'm not worried about blowing a chute, or concerned about how much money I have in my checking account. All purpose to me means a chute that can take you from 4 to 35 knots, conditions that you most likely will race in. On the average, you will probably race a good percentage of the time in winds of 7-15 knots. In these conditions, the .75 is just as good as the .6. Only in lighter conditions will there be a difference where the .6 will have an advantage. In the long run, the .75 will last longer, and hold its shape longer. As an all purpose chute, the .75 is the way to go. THe Melges 24s have already figured this out.

Regarding the outboard -- the Yamaha 4 x 4 is a nice motor. However, if you plan on racing, weight does make a difference. A 2 cylinder Johnson, 4 hosepoweer long shaft is a better way to go. It weighs roughly 37 pounds. ALthough is has no reverse, you can spin the motor around. Additionally, it has both an internal and external fuel tank. You really don't need anything larger than a 4 hp motor. A 4 will send the boat off at 6 - 6.75 knots. In heavier air, when the waves are larger, a larger motor won't help -- the prop comes out of the water.

Re the motor mount, most of older boats have, what I would call, a structural design flaw -- the transom has no structural support between the two walls. Thus, when you are tightening up the motor bracket onto the transom, you are in fact compressing the walls together. Without a structural support between the two walls, you will in the long run, end up compressing the exterior transom wall, and thus separating it from the deck.

The cure for this is a separate motor mount. The layline catalog offers two. Another advantage to having a motor mount is that you will not be able to chip your rudder with the prop. One more thing, you can now spin the motor around a lot easier.

Re instruments -- I have had KVH instruments for the last 3.5 years. Speaking of nightmares, I have spent countless hours working on those electronics, $$, and ultimately sailed half the regattas without electronics.

I now have TackTick electronics, I think I have both the racemaster and speedmaster, and I have found them to be EXCELLENT. They work flawlessly, don't drain the battery, and are just "what the doctor ordered." Re other wind instruments, I really don't believe that they are necessary. Although the J/80 has a big boat feel to it, it is still an over sized dinghy. Depth is good for areas that you are not familiar with, and the speedo helps you initially to figure out what's fast and what's not. Instant fed back.

If you get TackTick instruments, charging the battery will not be a problem. The small motorcycle sized battery can easily be removed and charged again when you find yourself using running lights or the internal cabin lights.

Re the 135, although I have only raced with a UK 133, I find it hard to believe that the North 135 can be trimmed off the standard tracks. Your local wind conditions and PHRF rating should collectivey dictate what size genoa would make the most sense.

Good luck.

Martin V. Kald
USA 63

Postby Guest » Sun Mar 04, 2001 9:11 pm

On genoa tracks, I meant the standard location for the optional genoa tracks --- sorry.

Postby Guest » Mon Mar 05, 2001 10:08 am

Craig: Congats on your new boat! I know you've been looking. Re the motor. I think you may find a 4 horse a bit of overkill. I'd be interested in other opinions, but I don't think it is practical to "cruise" this boat long distances under power. If there is much chop at all, the prop bobs in and out of the water and you can't make headway (no matter how big the motor is). So the idea of needing a bigger motor when the going gets rough really makes no sense. When the water is smooth, you don't need a big motor. My point is that the only reason you need a motor on this boat at all is to get in and out of the slip and through the channel to the lake. For that, you don't need an external tank and a big motor, which will be an annoyance most of the time. I like the little (and light) 2-horse 4-stroke Honda. Plenty of pushing power for the purpose I described. Very reliable. And you will put gas in it 4 times all summer. The clamps are not wide enough, however, so you will have to modify them or, as I did, router some material out of the friction plate to make it fit. I'd use a bracket, but I can't find one that clamps both to the boat and the motor, and I don't want to mar the boat with a permanent one. Whatever you choose, have fun with your new boat!

Postby Guest » Mon Mar 05, 2001 2:56 pm

Congratulations on your purchase - you will love the boat!
1. I think the polars are about right, but without wind instruments it is hard to verify and I don't think high speed planing is represented.
2-3. Consult your local sailmaker.
4. There are widely ranging opinions when it comes to spinnakers, but I doubt anyone would advocate a 0.5 oz as your "all purpose" sail even if you are not racing under class rules. I sail with a 0.6 oz poly and 0.6 oz nylon and have used them (sometimes with disastrous results) in high winds and doubt they will blow out, but they can tear from mishandling.
5. I would think the standard a-sail would be the class limit of 65 sq.m unless you specifically requested a smaller one.
6. There are several variations on the spin halyard setup, but I find the following works well: Mount a lance cleat on the mast below the halyard exit, offset such that you must pull forward on the halyard in order to cleat it. Run the tail down to a turning block on the padeye near the deck, and from there back to a cabin-top winch (if you have one) and cleat on the aft face of the cabin. If the lance cleat is properly located, the halyard can be rapidly hoisted at the mast, cleated off temporarily and the tail pulled through to the cabintop cleat at your leisure. When the line is cleated off in the cockpit, it should pop free of the lance cleat, allowing the douse to be controlled without sending crew to the mast. If you do run the halyard aft without the lance cleat, do not try to hoist from the cockpit alone in any breeze as the sail goes up much too slowly!
7. A separate motor mount has two advantages:
1) Prevents nicking the rudder with the prop.
2) Submerges the prop more deeply (useful in big waves).
Disadvantages are cost and weight.
4 hp is the optimum size in my opinion, as it is a balance of weight vs. power. In addition to be less than class minimum, a 2hp motor will be useless in anything but flat water and a reverse gear is a nice feature though not really mandatory.
Choice of tank depends on how far you plan to motor. Internal is much easier, but may not hold enough fuel. Many larger motors (>3.5) can use either, which gives you the option.
8. Unless you sail a lot at night, your battery should only require charging every few months. I take mine home and charge it in the garage.
9. Wind instruments are not really necessary and likely to be a distraction on this big dinghy. Mast-mounted speedo is nice. Upgrade to the TackTick RaceMaster if you can.
10. No experience (we dry sail).
11. Leave the cushions in the car when racing.
12. WS car not really a necessity, but I still prefer it to the continuous line.

Good Luck!

Postby Guest » Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:34 pm


Welcome to the J/80 Class!

Now to your questions. 1) It is very hard to get polars for small boats that reflect real speed numbers since so many things effect boat speed. I would not concern myself with whether you are able to hit the numbers. Just get to know the boat as the skipper and get your crew work down. That's where distance is gained (and lost).
2)A J/80 "sticks" to the water in light air upwind. No problem if your sailing class but in PHRF it's a bad thing. A genoa helps tremendously. The size of the genoa should be predicated on how your local PHRF rules work. For example, here on Galveston Bay if you have a genoa LP under 140% you get a rating credit of 3 seconds per mile. That's why some PHRF ers here use 139% genoas. Check your local rules -or ask the PHRF chairman.
3) If you send me your fax # I'll send you a diagram where the genoa tracks should go. I use my genoa tracks for cross sheeting as well with the class jib.
4).5oz Spin cloth is legal for class racing. Martin has a point regarding durability with a .75oz sail though.
5) 65sq m is the max size for the J/80 A-spinn. The Americas' Cup Rule is the system. If you are getting the J/Boats "package" the you will receive a .75oz 65sqm sail.
6)On new boats (mine is #335)the spin halyard is let aft. I will change mine and install two Harken cleats on the mast in order to get people out of the cockpit during the hoisting. For cruising short handed it is better to run the halyard aft.
7)I have a 5hp long shaft Nissan that for some reason does not hit the rudder when turning. It is a little heavier then I would like but to have a chance of motoring through waves a 3hp won't do it.
12) A windward sheeting TC needs to have a continuous line in order to pull the traveler to weather when roll tacking (skipper stays to leeward for a short time). The other thing is if you pull the traveler up you don't have to uncleat the leeward side. Then when you tack the traveler doesn't slide down -it's auto cleated.
14)A rigid vang will not hook up to the factory bails. You need to install fittings.

Jay Lutz

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 06, 2001 6:23 pm

More questions from a new owner Hull #382: Have not picked up my boat yet-am ice packed in Maine!! Note the reference to the problem of compressing the transom surfaces if the motor is transom mounted. Will this STILL be a problem in my new boat? Has J Boats corrected this??
I note concern for the danger of the prop hitting the rudder. Can't a "STOP" be rigged (a line or removable protrusion) that would limit the tiller travel from allowing the rudder into the impact area when the outboard engine is in use?? Thanks for your wisdom and advice.

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:05 pm

Hallo Craig,
Congratulations to you purchase. You will discover the true meaning of sailing. Do not worry what is in the cabin. You go sailing, just pure sailing.....Forget the storage a few light bags mabye.

I found he best place for the motor in the Garage.If you do not have one do not buy one. You bought an oversized dinghy with stability and confort.

It is a light displacement boat, the best storage soulution I have is a galvanized trade men box in my pen. The less you carry the happier you are.

The compass is all you need, maybe a speddo. Remember you bought the boat because you want it nice and simple. Keep it simple. Do not clatter the boat with things you do not need.

My concessions to confort are a rigid boomvang and a simple lasy jack , halogen lights and cockpit lights for twillight and plenty of tailbags around the cockpit for the beer and wine...

Cushions are a complete waste of time. you sail, rest enjoy every second in the huge cockpit. Make the cockpit confortable.....

Kite size: 65m2 Yeah....thats what you want, if the kite is cut properly you use the gust to plane forward rather then heel.....Thats the whole idea of the boat...

Seriously, when the boat hums the first time(vibrations) most of them do, you start to understand that you have a pure sailing boat and not a floating campervan. When you pass a 36 foot Farr on reach with 12-14knots plaining...well then you know you reached sailing heaven....who cares about the damm storage....You just enjoy the plessure of sailing where less is more.....

I just came back from a Regatta where I crewed for my friend on a Farr 38..

I can not get over the fact boring the boat is. How heavy the load is on the sheets and how frustrating it is to never the the magic 10knots on the speddo meter. yes I has radar, a sink a head proper storage..... and cushions on all the seats....I tell you what if sailing is so boring you need all of the above to be happy......

Instruments for sailing: Waste of money. use the cash for high quality sails (I use fully batten main Carbon) and learn to helm the boat like a dinghy.

Some of you habits from a heavier boat will make you slow in the beginning. The two key words are

If happen to have kids who sail dinghies they would be you best allay. Everytime I have dinghy sailor on board I do very well (win by 5 Min).

So if you happen to know a dinghy sailor invite him you be suprised who well the J/80 response to dinghy technics. Find somebody who sails a dinghy with A-symetrical kite like a 29er or a 49er and ask them to come sailing with you......

Consider hiring a dinghy coach with experienced in a-kites. Money well spend. You will start of on the right foot. Otherwise It may take you a year or two to understand the if you sail the J/80 like a "normal keelboat" is is painfully slow and very very boring.

This is an exciting racing machine, with the stability of a family boat.....Make sure you unlook the secrect early the sooner you get the hang of it the more fun you will is easy as pie, just think DINGHY, DINGHY, DINGHY...

Particulary downwind you need to completely change you technic. Whatever is fast on trational crusier is slow on a a-kite.

If you zig-sag down the course like a drunken sailor chasing the pressure and pay no regard to the mark you on the righ track......

Instruments.....I believe the hinder you learning.
Feel, Feel,Feel is the mantra....feel pressure in the sheets, feel for heeling angle....

As to batteries, I have a good size deep cyle batterie, and use a 10 watt flexible solar panel.
Run all the light, nav. ect no problems....

As far as sails concerns Jay Lutz from North is the guru for J/80 sails...You discuss you need with him and he will give you excately what you want....

Have fun with you new "GIANT KILLER". I still get a kick out of overtaking boats up to 34-36 foot, particulary downwind. The giant sail and the J/80 plains......
Ps: There is no downwind sailing on a J/80 you always reaching and as the boat speed builds you can start going lower and lower angels....

Ullmans Sails have a good article on "Sportsboat around the course."

Well that hopefully should make you keen to start.

Tell me what sort of boat you sailed up to now.

Bob von Felten
Down Under

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 06, 2001 9:58 pm

Ralph: I do not know if J-Boats have fixed the transom problem or not. On hull 45, I have placed a U-shaped piece of 316 stainless over the transom in the area where the motor attaches. Hopefully this will prevent the crushing. FYI the motor BARELY fits on with the mounting screws all the way open. As far as the rudder goes, I have had a small eye welded onto the nut which attaches the tiller to the rudder. I affix a small line with a plastic Nabshackle onto the ring and the other end onto the stern pulpit when motoring. The length of the line prevents the rudder turning far enough to hit the prop. Of course, I only added this device after gouging the rudder (twice - I learn slowly!).
Bob: I agree that the boat is better sailed than motored, but there are two reasons to carry one:
1. If racing 1D, they are required by class rules.
2. If you sail in an area with light airs and/or high currents, etc. it is safer to carry one, even if it spends most of it's life below.

Postby Guest » Wed Mar 07, 2001 3:05 am

Ok if the motor make you feel good and the local condition indicate that for saftey you may need one, good carry one, as long as it centre and very low, defently not over the back.! This is a high performance dinghy with big keel stuck on it so you get the thrill of dinghy sailing (plaining) with the stability of a keelboat. The boat builder went to great lenght to keep the weight out of the bow and the stern. I am building a carbon fire rudder to keep the weight out of the back. To carry a motor anywhere outside the centre of gravity terrifies me.
Needless to say that my two sons which sail a skiff are breathing down my neck. I would not carry any extra sails, just pure minimum , just what you need for saftey reason. (Anker, tow line)

As far as the spin halyard back to the cockpit goes, I already bought all the fittings to change it from the mast mounted system to a cockpit system. (Hull 95).

12 months after the purchase of the fittings there not installed, I believe now that you get more benefits from a mastmouted cleat. When hoisting the spin you get a good view, see easy when you reach the top, you can see if you get a mishap such as a twist (wineglass, caught between spreaders and Main sail and all the other little things which can go wrong and will go wrong in the learning phase)

Hoist the spin from the cockpit, which looks very elegant, but what can you see....a beautiful main sail which blocks the view very effectively and you have no idea what is going on whilst you hoist the spin.....

Well that has been my experience, particulay in moderate to heavy air...

Try it out first and see what you think before you change a thing. If you new boat is rigged to the cockpit, hoist the spin by yourself and trop it from the cockpit, next time let somebody else hoist and drop it for you whilst you stand next to the mast. Now choose you prefered position.

PS: Regarding dinghy sailor, if you can not find a dinghy sailor to come on you boat, get a book and GO TO THE DINGHY RACING SECTION.

See whether you find the book called " Keelboat and Sportsboat Racing"

I believe you will learn more in 1 hour reading a dinghy racing book then studying 10 keel boat books.

Lets face it it a overgrown dinghy, a family boat on steriods. A ferrari you wife is happy to sit in....Clean good fun...


Postby Guest » Wed Mar 07, 2001 1:52 pm

Craig: I picked up my boat #331 about three months ago. The changes so far have been to add genoa tracks, I ordered 3ft. tracks from TPI so they would match the ones the boat came with. I also added a cleat on the mast for the spin halyard, got the cleat and base from Hall Spars its the same as the jibe cleats.
Upgraded the compass to the Racemaster and I like it, next will be the Speedmaster.
I have the Yamaha your thinking about it works great I like having reverse as I keep the boat in a slip. the motor comes with an internal tank you can hookup a external when its needed. I did chip the paint on the rudder the first time out.
Also if you get the genoa track plan from Jay Lutz ask him for his tuning guide, its been very helpful.
I have installed a rigid vang from Garhauer it came with mast and boom mounts,blocks,line I think it cost around $200. cheap and it works great.
I love the boat its just plain fun.
Dan Ross

Postby Guest » Thu Mar 08, 2001 10:06 pm

Hi Craig,

Welcome to theJ80 fleet. Its too bad that the forum changed recently and you cannot get the benefit of the discussions over the last nine months or so.. Many of your questions were covered thoroughly.

I'll add my two cents on a couple of things:

Regarding the motor, I need to travel eight miles (one-way) to weekly races. For that I use a six horse Johnson with an external tank. It will drive me at 6.5kt on calm water and 4.5 into a twenty knot headwind with chop. It's heavy (about 60lbs) but smooth and reliable. I sit on the port quarter and it mostly stays in the water. I found that with larger engines, the prop makes a huge difference.

Most other times, and during major regattas, I keep a four horse Johnson down below.

I use an external tank for several reasons:
1) I use more than an internal tankful to travel eight miles.
2) The same tank services either of my engines.
3) I don't like to store fuel belowdeck and the external tank stays topside.
4) It marginally reduces the weight of the engine.

If you won't be commuting to races, I would recommend against a big engine like the six, but I would also caution against going too small. I believe a four is a reasonable minimum.

I have been looking at the four stroke engines. They are heavy. I also have noticed that some manufacturers use the same basic engine for four, five, six, and even eight horsepower. The primary difference is in the carburation, not the weight. Also, when storing some four cycle engines, they must be rested on their sides to avoid spilling crankcase oil. If that is the case with the Yamaha, check to be sure you have an appropriate storage area.

I have used a 30 amp-hour gel cell with a flexible solar panel to charge. I run under lights and have instruments without any problems.

My silva instruments work fine and were relatively inexpensive six years ago. There are probably better choices today. I discontinued putting on the wind instrument several years ago. It's a toy for a different game.

Most of the Fleet 1 boats use the hybrid spin halyard technique described by Chris Morland except that I don't know what a lance cleat is. We use a standard Harken cam cleat on the mast. I'm interested in Chris' description that the halyard uncleats from the mast when the cabintop cleat is tensioned. Saves reaching up and popping it off - and also saves the fire drill when you start a douse from the cockpit and realize that the mast cleat is still engaged.

Bottoms are subject to budget. I had VC17 (fresh water) and found it needed work every year. I developed blisters after the second year and had the bottom done with a barrier coat - Interlux 2000. I had VC offshore put of over that and wetsanded to 400. The VC offshore is hard enough to give a tough smooth finish and it stayed that way for four years. Just had the VC offshore redone and expect at least another four years. My boat is in the water for six months a year. If you are going to pay someone to apply the VC17 - consider factoring in the expected life of the job and the per-annum cost. For me, VC offshore is way cheaper and a better bottom.

Now that you have all of this advice, I would recommend that you put your new boat in the water factory stock, and sail it for a few weeks to see if any of this stuff makes sense.


Postby Guest » Thu Mar 08, 2001 10:59 pm

The Lance cleat that Chris describes is made by RWO. I was the first in the Houston area to use one but I must credit Roland Arthur with using the first that I had seen at the 1998 NA's in Kentucky. RWO makes several models, but you'll need the "MIDI" and I'd recommend #R3608. That model is a few dollars more expensive, but the metal roller holds up much better than the plastic ones. If mounted properly, the line pulls out from the cleat and leads under the roller when tensioned from the cockpit. Alignment is critical to proper release function, so the halyard must be led through the turning block at the mast base and tensioned when mounting the cleat. You can see and/or order the cleat at the RWO website below, or you can call them at 770-945-0564.

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 09, 2001 3:12 am

Dear Craig,
You seem to get a lot of different advise on various issues regarding "customizing" you new J/80.
The best piece of advise probably came from Bob.
Put the boat in water factory stock and sail it a few weeks, before buying the "right" motor, try one from you dealer, before you commit yourself to one.

A lot of the recommendations are personal preferences, it is important that you "customize" you J/80 to YOUR PREFERENCE, YOUR LOCAL CONDITIONS, AND YOU PERSOAL STYLE OF SAILING.

Whatever you do you will be very happy with the J/80. It is a great boat...

Personally my experience was that a lot of the little changes I did to my boat, really were not necessary and only very marginally improved the situation.

The pleasure of the boat is in the overall design and most "improvements" are either cosmetic or very marginal indeed.

You bought a top boat....Enjoy


Postby Guest » Sat Mar 10, 2001 10:41 am

Bob Lemaire,

Read one of your messages above and had a question for you. You mentioned that you had blisters, and I was curious about whether TPI footed the bill for repairs? I believe the hull comes with a 10 year warranty for blisters? Anyone else have any experiences with this?


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