There's been a surge in interest in new J Class yachts following a rule chnage to allow hulls to be built in aluminium

This is the brand new J Class yacht Lionheart after successfully being turned over at Freddie Bloemsma’s yard in Holland. The aluminium hulled J has been developed by designer Andre Hoek who has undertaken extensive research into the performance of 20 J Class designs some of which have been built and others that have never seen the light of day.

Lionheart, at 144ft (44m) loa and with an astonishing 56ft (17m) of overhang, will be the biggest J in existence when completed by Claasen Jachtbouw in Zaandam. Her lines originate from one of the series of designs drawn for the Starling Burgess/Olin Stephens1936 Ranger project so it will be particularly interesting to see how she shapes up against John Williams’s current J Class Ranger.

Hoek’s design team has developed a highly sophisticated velocity prediction programme for J Class design using test data taken from a 19ft 6in (20m) long test tank model of a J. They have also used computational fluid dynamic software to further analyse hull shape for the five best performing yachts.

Hoek is currently working on four new Js. Besides Lionheart the next yacht is likely to be a replica of Enterprise, the first J ever built and one of the smallest although Hoek believes she will be very effective on handicap. The third project is Svea, originally designed by Thor Holm and now well advanced in design for a Dutch/Swedish syndicate. Finally, Hoek is working on a replica of a Franck Paine designed J that was never built. She’ll be along the lines of Lionheart.

With these four yachts in the pipeline, Jim Clark’s Endeavour 11 on course for an autumn launch from Royal Huisman and other designs on the boil at Dykstra and Partners (see current, February issue of Yachting World), the J Class movement, boosted by the rule change to allow the use aluminium for hull construction, is about to take a mighty leap forward.

There will be further detailed reporting on Hoek’s J Class work and other projects in an upcoming issue of Yachting World.