Tuesday, March 8, 2016

J/112 E Review

It's refreshing to see that J/Boats is paying more attention to style and aesthetics with their "E" series of boats. The company has always produced good looking boats but I think of them as being good looking in the sense that they are always well proportioned and functionally efficient.  However, in the E series they have gone beyond their tried and true, but somewhat pedestrian "form follows function" aesthetic standards. As I look at the stylistic progression from the J/97E to the 122E and now the new 112E, it is clear that they are taking the artistic aspect of yacht design more seriously and I think that is a very good thing.

Another interesting aspect of the newest E boat is that while the 97E and 122E were both upgrades of existing boats, it appears that the 112E is an entirely new boat. When I first saw it, I thought it was based on the J/111 or J/109, but one look at the deckplan told me it was neither of those boats. I've included deck drawings of all three below so you can compare them.

The "E" designation signifies "Elegance and evolution in performance cruising design."

The hull of the 112E is thoroughly modern, but notice that it does not have chines, twin rudders or an extremely wide stern. Those things are, in many cases, design gimmicks that don't contribute materially to the boat's performance or seaworthiness. That is not to say that those design features are always wrong, but in a boat of this type they would add nothing of value.

The underbody of the 112E shows fine waterlines forward and a deep keel that incorporates a cast iron fin and lead bulb. The rudder is made of fiberglass with a stainless steel stock. With a displacement of 11,300 pounds, the 112E has a displacement/length ratio of 152, which makes it light enough to surf and husky enough to sail to weather in heavy air. Its moderate overall proportions combined with the deep keel and powerful rudder will impart good manners in a seaway and will make the boat easily handled. These are just the things you want in a cruising boat.

J/112E Deckplan
The deck of the J/112E is just about perfect for a performance cruiser of this size. The cockpit is designed for sailing efficiency and reasonable comfort, and it's nice to see that they did not try incorporate a fixed table into it. The steering wheel is fairly large and some people may want two smaller wheels, but I prefer the arrangement shown here. The mainsheet traveler is on the cockpit sole and the sheet is led to a pair of self tailing winches on the coamings. Halyards and control lines are led aft through a gang of clutches to self tailing winches on the cabintop. Everything on this deck is straightforward and simple. This boat is going to be an absolute pleasure to sail.
J/111 Deckplan
Not quite as well designed as the 112E

J/109 Deckplan
Not quite as well designed as the J/111
I  guess this is what J/Boats means by "Evolution in performance cruising design." 

The cockpit looks spacious and comfortable, and I like the molded-in toe-rails. The backstay adjuster is hydraulic, which is probably okay, but I would prefer a block and tackle system for simplicity and reliability.

The spars are aluminum. Performance would be enhanced by a lighter carbon mast, but of course it would also increase the cost of the boat. I'm sure you could have a carbon rig built for the boat if you wanted to seriously race it, but why not just buy a J/111 instead?
The chainplates are out at the sheer so jibs are limited to about 105%. With no big genoas to trim, this is a versatile sailplan that can be easily managed by a couple, yet with a sail area/displacement ratio of 25 it's capable of delivering plenty of horsepower when needed.  The boat is equipped with a retractable sprit and the sailplan drawing shows masthead spinnakers so downwind performance will be superb.   
The slightly sprung sheer and stylishly shaped cabin-side windows look better in reality than in the drawing. 

E stands for elegant too.

The accommodations plan looks ideal for a boat of this size and type. I lived aboard a 36 foot Beneteau with very similar accommodations for over a year and can attest to the practicality of this layout. If you only race or daysail your 112E you probably won't find the dedicated chart table very necessary, but if you actually go cruising, you'll find many uses for it in spite of the fact that nowadays you can do all your navigating and weather predictions on your IPad. The V-berth is snug for two adults but a good place for a couple of kids. The large dropleaf table in the salon will seat six for meals and offers convenient storage. The head is large for a boat of this size and includes access to the very large storage compartment under the port cockpit seat.

Practical accommodations make for efficient cruising comfort.

The salon looks like a comfortable place to lounge, and the settees appear to be long enough to serve as sea berths if fitted with lee cloths. All photos courtesy of J/Boats.
J/Boats has used the SCRIMP process for molding hulls and decks for years. SCRIMP is a trade name for vacuum infusion. You can find out more about the process online, but the key things to know about it is that the process results in high quality fiberglass parts with the optimum resin-to-glass ratio and a high degree of precision in the finished part. It also has the benefit of being environmentally responsible.

I don't know what the price of the 112E will be, but if I was in the market for a new boat, this one would be at the top of my short list of must-see boats.