Owners, skippers, designers and managers of J Class yachts ancient and modern were in evidence at the big trade exhibitiion in Amsterdam last week

Interesting J Class chatter last week at METS, the trade exhibition in Amsterdam.  After an inevitable slow down in new build projects things seem to be picking up again no more so than at Freddie Bloemsma’s aluminium hull building company, HJB (Holland Jachtbouw) and the Dykstra design office who will be collaborating on the design and build of a new Rainbow.

Chris Gongriep, who sold his beloved and much sailed schooner Windrose of Amsterdam recently, has signalled that this project should progress without delay. The hull of the new J is taking shape at Freddie Bloemsma’s yard, the fabricator of choice for those looking for a top quality specialist aluminium shell.

We met Chris Gongriep at the RAI exhibition centre where he was with Richard ‘Bicky’ Bicknall of North Sails, Auckland who has been asked to quote for the new J and Cees Rem, a long standing member of the Windrose team,  who was pricing other equipment for the yacht.

Gerry Dykstra & Partners are the naval architects who have developed Rainbow from the original lines drawn by William Starling Burgess in the 1930s. Rainbow was launched in 1934 and successfully defended the America’s Cup against Sopwith’s first Endeavour in the same year.

The interesting thing about this programme is that Chris Gongriep will be able to draw on the large crew who so successfully sailed Windrose – and she took some sailing on the race course – so they should get her up to pace soon after her launch in 2011. Her hull will be turned over in January and she will be transported to HJB shortly afterwards for completion.

Also in Amsterdam were Simon Lacey, Endeavour’s skipper and the man who manages the J, Jon Barrett, who were talking to prospective re-fitters. Endeavour is currently still in the southern hemisphere where she was last seen on the public stage at the sailing Olympics in Qingdao but now it appears her owner is keen to get her back into racing trim.

Yards in Europe and New Zealand are being considered but it is not yet certain whether Endeavour will join the existing Js on the race course.

It looks as though the next new J to launch will be Lionheart some time in the new year. This project with Andre Hoek doing the design work on one of the original Ranger models that was never built, has been slow to finish at Claasen Jachtbouw in Holland, but we were assured at METS that she will now be completed and finished in fairly short order. Her hull was also built by Bloemsma and her black hull looks superb.

The other news is that John Williams’ Ranger has been on the market seriously for sale but we understand that plans for a new yacht have now been shelved and that he will remain with the Danish built version of the Super-J Ranger.

Next meeting of the Js is likely to be in Antigua in late April.