'The boat that never was'


Replica of an original design by Burgess/Stephens in 1936, reconfigured by André Hoek.

Built by Freddie Bloemsma and Claassen Jachtbouw, launched 2010

Identifying features: Black hull like Rainbow, but squared doghouses separated by an unusual guest cockpit

Odds: The longest J, so has pace, with good local knowledge aboard for Falmouth.


Ranger may have been christened the ‘Super J’ in her time, but in the modern fleet Lionheart, at 142ft 5in, is now the largest. She was built for a Dutch owner and then put on the market on the day she was launched in June 2010 after a five-year project.

Lionheart broke away from the Dykstra & Partners grip and was designed by fellow Dutch naval architect André Hoek and she’s the first replica of a boat that was never actually built – she was design 77F, one of seven rejected Ranger models from 1936.

When Lionheart was commissioned, her owner asked Hoek to recreate the fastest J. The designer undertook detailed performance analysis of all 20 original designs. “We developed a VPP program specifically for long-keeled boats and used a 20ft model to calibrate the software,” Hoek explains. “The best all-rounder came out as 77F.”

After licensing the design from S&S, Hoek configured the aluminium hull and, as they weren’t following an original build, optimised mast position and rudder design, detailing longitudinal strength, to allow an extra 10 tonnes of load on the runners compared with existing Js to reduce forestay sag.

On the water she looks more a cross between a J Class and a superyacht, with a ‘safe’ guest cockpit separating two unusual squared doghouses. Lionheart is geared to race, cruise and charter and is MCA-coded to enable that.

Whether her extreme overhangs and length, freeboard height with bulwarks and such modern deck aesthetics distance her from the true spirit of the J Class is questionable. But the more pertinent issue is how she performs on the racecourse.

Her current owner-driver has campaigned her hard and got his just deserves during the 2014 season when Lionheart won the three major J-Class events in Palma, Menorca and Sardinia. For the 2015 UK regattas she is without regular tactician Bouwe Bekking and some of his fellow Team Brunel crew – but has plenty of local knowledge aboard.


Essential figures:

Specs: LOA 39.96 m

Beam:  6.13 m

Draught: 4.72 m

Manufacturer: Claasen Jachtbouw. Hull built by F. Bloemsma Aluminiumbouw