'The super J'
Designed by Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens. Re-worked by Studio Scanu, Reichel-Pugh, and Fred Elliott
Build: Danish Yacht Boatyard in 2002/3
Identifying features: White hull, barrel bow
Odds: She has the most racing experience (along with Velsheda), , and goes well in flat water.
Regular rockstar: Erle Williams race helm, Murray Jones tactics
As the first completely new J, Ranger is the forerunner of the new breed and interest in new replica J Class yachts. Her owner got hooked on J Class racing whilst watching Endeavour and Velsheda battle for spoils at Antigua Classics in 1998. He chartered Endeavour the following year to race the same regatta.
The formation of the J Class Association followed and class rules were set which allowed for replicas of original J designs to race, heralding the birth of the modern fleet.
Ranger is the original ‘Super J’. Starling Burgess and Olin J Stephens designed her for Harold Vanderbilt’s 1937 Cup defence against Sir Thomas Sopwith’s Endeavour II. ‘Super J’ refers to a J being built to the maximum waterline length governed by the rule (87ft). One reason it hadn’t been tried before Ranger, was that it brought with it the added concern of being able to keep the correspondingly high mast in one piece.
The original Ranger had the best record of all: she started 34 races and won 32. At 8.5ft longer than the previous defender Rainbow, and sporting a very distinct snub-nosed barrel bow, the scientific approach of the young Stephens influenced Ranger’s success. It was the first year tank tests were carried out on the models – arguably the reason Ranger defended the cup so imperiously.
Despite her ungainly flattened stern and unusual bow, model 77C was selected from eight Ranger designs as the best all rounder in 6-8 knots. The tank tests gave the designers the confidence to build such an unusual hull, and the need to keep it and the Duralumin rig as fare as possible. It was the first time a mast, boom and spinnaker booms were all built in aluminium.
Again Ranger was principally helmed and funded by Vanderbilt. She dominated the trials (averaging 11.01 knots). And once unanimously selected as the defender, Ranger went on to completely outclass Endeavour II, winning by over 17 and 18 minutes in the first two races.
Today’s Ranger is a seasoned competitor. Unlike the rest of the newbuilds, she has a steel hull (as per the original) – she is incredibly strong but comparatively heavy for the modern fleet. She sports a central cockpit wheelhouse largely made from carbon fibre, as well as weight-saving materials throughout her mahogany-veneered interior.
Ranger has been based in Antigua and campaigned impressively and exhaustively since her launch. She still remains with her original owner who has consistently updated her and kept longterm race and boat crews who know how to get the best out of her.
Specs: LOA 41.6m
Built in steel
Draught: 4.9 m
Manufacturer: Danish Yachts, Skagen