Pip Hare feels right at home on the JPK 1030 – a quick, no-nonsense boat that’s ideal for short-handers
You know the feeling when you meet an old friend and just pick up where you left off – there is no small talk, the conversation flows and you get straight into discussing the meaningful things in life? Sailing the JPK 1030 was just like that.
It felt incredibly familiar: every rope and every footrest was where I expected it to be. There was no need for a warm up, we just stepped aboard, the water ballast went in, the main traveller went up and we were on the pace without a second thought.
This freshly launched model from the Lorient-based boatbuilders is set to replace the successful JPK 1010 and had been afloat for just ten days at the time of my test.
At first glance you can see the 1030 is squarely focussed at the short-handed sailing audience. The hull is powerful, with high topsides, a full-length chine and a full but not radical bow. The cockpit has a clear, functional layout, with minimal seating so crew would be forced to sit either on the rail or behind the helm.
The boat is straightforward and simple but that simplicity demonstrates a wealth of design knowledge and experience of what the short-handed sailor needs. Following a quick tour of the boat, we set sail and allowed the JPK 1030 to speak for itself.
King of trim
Helming the 1030 upwind was easy and fun. In 18 knots of true wind we carried a full mainsail and a J2, using the 300 litres of water ballast. The helm was light and the boat easy to control in gusts. Filling the water ballast gave a significant boost to performance – we heeled less, picked up speed and the boat became less twitchy in the gusts.
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We ghosted down the Hamble River under mainsail alone, the water slipping silently past our red hull in the grainy…
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The single backstay proved a powerful tool for trimming the test boat’s carbon mast and I sat happily playing both backstay and traveller while steering to maximise our upwind potential. JPK has opted to keep the head of the mainsail small enough to pass through a single backstay, helped by a good length mast crane on the carbon Axxon rig projecting the stay further back in the boat.
The tiller is mounted forward in the cockpit and two large carbon footrests sit convivially next to each other to allow a second sailor to sit behind the helm. This makes it more comfortable for crew to keep weight aft when the spinnaker is up and also gives the helm an uninterrupted view of oncoming conditions, even when the main is being trimmed. For a yacht this size, trimming the main from behind the helming position makes a lot of sense.
All controls, mainsheet, traveller and backstay are easily accessed from either seated position without interrupting each other. Despite lumpy conditions the steering position remained dry, however there would be no protection from oncoming waves in a big sea – during these times it would be important to strike the right balance between staying dry(ish) and hand-steering the boat.
With the autopilot on, an on-watch skipper could sit behind the coachroof on one of the small seats and afford at least some shelter from the elements.
The water ballast on the JPK 1030 uses a no-nonsense system, employing a central scoop, with large diameter transfer pipe, and gate valves which can be operated from the cockpit. Filling takes two minutes, and transferring a matter of seconds. This is easy-to-use ballast at its best – simple and effective.
Upwind speed was impressive and the groove easy to find. We quickly accelerated to over seven knots and even with the ballast on the wrong side of the boat before a tack the helm remained easy to handle.
Tacking itself is a swift procedure on the JPK 1030 – the helmsman eases the mainsheet a touch, while the crew lifts the two gate valves in the cockpit floor to allow the water ballast to drop down to leeward. As soon as the leeward overflow pipe spits, tack the boat, helmsman passing over the back of the tiller, crew taking all the room forward. Out of the tack with the water ballast on the new windward side the boat is powered up quickly.
Aft of the main traveller, a large top-opening lazarette gives roomy access to the tops of the rudders and the autopilot rams – great for troubleshooting. The test boat also had a rope system that allows the adjustment of rudder toe from on deck – a neat feature, which is managed on other twin rudder boats by sailors crawling into small spaces at the transom and winding on bottlescrews.
Adjusting the alignment of twin rudders is a racing essential which may not seem important to the cruising sailor, but bringing this adjustment onto the deck is a clever move for gaining that extra half a knot of speed.
Off the breeze the JPK 1030 is like poetry. The asymmetric spinnaker flies from a retractable bowsprit, which adds another half a metre onto the boat when extended. There is plenty of power in this little boat. We were able to catch and stay on waves, prolonging surfing time with the helm responding to every tiny twitch.
Even when reaching under spinnaker, I felt fully in control of the boat. When the tiller did load up, an ease of the kicker had us back on our feet again and flying down the waves. We recorded a top speed of 13.8 knots, which is impressive for a 33-footer.
There is plenty of room for crew to sit behind the helm downwind to keep the bow up. The spinnaker sheets cross the cockpit to a winch just in front of the helming position and can be easily trimmed while driving. Inside gybing even in 20 plus knots of breeze was smooth.
The traveller comes up to windward, you surf down a wave, gybe the spinnaker – there is plenty of room between the forestay and the spinnaker luff to pull the sail through – then once the kite is full on the new side, pick another wave and flip the mainsail over.
Below decks the JPK 1030 is smooth and functional. There are no frills but it is nicely built and, due to the lack of forward bulkhead, the interior feels roomy. The bow contains a double berth and there is provision to put a further double in the port aft cabin with the heads and a pilot berth to starboard. As our test boat was fitted with water ballast, the two aft cabins each contained single pilot berths.
The most notable feature of the interior is the dual navigators’ stations, with ergonomic U-shaped seats on each side of the boat. The main nav station was to starboard, however a second screen was fitted over the galley on the port side, with the fridge lid providing a flat surface, which would suffice as a desk.
This allows monitoring of navigation from a comfortable position on either side of the boat and made me reflect a little on how sensible it is to have two positions from which the boat’s progress, AIS or radar can be monitored below decks.
There is a smooth sophistication about the JPK 1030 – it is well-designed, well-built and demonstrates a deep understanding of the needs of a short-handed sailor. The boat is fun to sail but it’s also serious and I have no doubt this boat will be in demand on the double-handed circuit. It is more expensive than the competition in this field and it’s not going to be easy to get your hands on a new one; the current lead-time for a new boat is 14 to 16 months. Is the long wait and the extra cost worth it? To me it is; the value of a well-thought-out, easy-to-use boat for short-handed sailing makes for a more pleasant sailing experience, with less mistakes and the ability to keep on going for longer.