This classic cruiser’s DNA comes from the company that redefined the racer-cruiser
The J/45 drew plenty of attention at the Annapolis boat show in October. As I stepped aboard, the stylish teak decks provided good traction. The large cockpit features halyard winches on either side of the companionway and a dedicated storage locker for lines. Long, teak-covered cockpit seats are designed for comfort and elegance. The optional cockpit table adds convenience and panache.
The companionway’s innovative two-part hatch board system retracts into the opening and is separately drained overboard. There are two finger triggers, one on each side, that raise the boards either all the way or to a midway position.
The twin composite wheels mounted on custom molded pedestals have integrated compasses and binnacle guards. Aft, the optional flip-down swim platform with a ladder makes going for a dip a breeze.
The sail controls are easy to access and user-friendly. I was impressed with the substantial nature of all fittings, the ample handholds and the minimalist approach to deck fittings. This is a boat meant to be sailed hard, but is set up to make shorthanded sailing easy.
Some of the options on the test boat included the performance Hall Spars carbon fiber mast and North Sails. Hall and North worked in tandem led by North Sail’s president Ken Read, who worked closely with Johnstone on the rig and sail design.
“We have a very versatile sail inventory with a J1, removable inner forestay for the J4, a large code 0 on a furler and asymmetric spinnaker. We also installed a furling carbon boom,” Asgeirsson said.
The J/45 is as beautiful down below as it is functional topside. French designer Isabelle Racoupeau’s touch was evident everywhere from the soft-as-a-glove settees to the euro-modern white oak joinery. Tandem 8-foot-long fixed ports in the saloon provide plenty of light.
The 45 felt spacious, which is impressive given the fact its low freeboard reduces available interior volume. The test boat was the three-cabin, two-head configuration and it had plenty of headroom for tall sailors with 6 feet 6 inches throughout the main cabin. A two-cabin, two-head layout is also available. The roominess is also evident in the long berths, which are nearly 7 feet long.The U-shape galley has a large single sink, three-burner stove and oven and there is plenty of counter space and storage lockers. There is a large top loading fridge with extra refrigerator space in drawers below. Opposite the galley, the full-size chart table with a forward-facing seat has plenty of room for navigation equipment and even paper charts.
“We have sailed more than 1,500 miles on the boat, including a 400-mile passage from the J/Composites factory in France to the UK in gale conditions crossing the English Channel,” Asgeirsson said. “It’s a magical boat to sail. It’s easy to depower and change gears with the jib or the main, combined with dependable roller furling means we spent more time sailing and not having to worry about making a lot of sail changes.”
I had a chance to find out for myself on a two-hour sail. The test sail wasn’t as ambitious as that passage, but brisk 15-knot northwesterly with 20-knot gust was the perfect opportunity to get a feel for the
The whisper quiet Volvo 75-horsepower saildrive engine provided plenty of power as we motored out into the bay. It was easy to get sailing with the full-batten North 3Di carbon mainsail with in-boom furling and a North 3Di No. 1 jib on roller furling. Steering was effortless and very responsive as we hit 9-plus knots on the way back to pick up the next batch of lucky J/Boat enthusiasts.
Sailors looking for cruising comfort without sacrificing performance and gorgeous aesthetics can’t miss with the next American classic.
LOA 45’6”; LWL 41’3”; Beam 13’11”; Standard draft 7’8”; Shoal draft 6’8”; Displacement 22,900 lb.; Sail area 1,303 sq. ft.
Base boat price: $695,000
557 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840