1933 VelshedaIn a testament to tradition, six J Class yachts are on the water- three restorations and three replicas. Four more are under construction, and a fifth is in negotiation. If all are completed there will be twelve boats total, two more then the original ten, which were built from 1930-1937.
This week, two J Class yachts will compete in Newport, R.I., the original battleground for America's Cup J Class racing. Velsheda, an original 1933 J Class designed for Mr. W.L. Stephenson, owner of the Woolworth chain of shops, and Ranger, a replica of a W. Starling Burgess and Olin Stephen's design that was launched in 2002, will race everyday from June15-19th at 1PM. (In support of the war effort the original 1937 Ranger designed for Harold Vanderbilt was sold for scrap in 1941.)
J's are marked by their elegant, narrow beam, 165ft + masts, and massive sail plan. Michiel de Vos, an engineer who worked on the interior of Ranger and crews aboard Shamrock V, the first J Class built and only one still sailing made of wood said, "(A J Class) is so narrow that the rail is near the water or in the water at all time, the the bow doesn't ride over waves, it slices through them. If you're trimming on the low side take care."
Velsheda before restoration
1937 Ranger at Bath Iron Works
1937 Ranger Interior
Captain Sopwith pilots Endeavor
Velsheda (right) and 2002 Ranger (left) in Newport Harbor on 6-16-2011