The modern interpretation of Sir Tommy Sopwith’s 1936 J Class Endeavour II.
J class yacht Hanuman is the modern interpretation of Sir Tommy Sopwith’s 1936 J Class Endeavour II. Named after a Hindu monkey god descended from the wind god Pavana, this formidable J frequently competes with John Williams’s Ranger, also a modern interpretation of the original yacht.
The competition between the two has rekindled interest in the last J Class battle for the America’s Cup in 1937, when Harold Vanderbilt wiped the floor with Sopwith’s second Endeavour by unleashing the original Super-J Ranger, designed by Starling Burgess and a youthful Olin Stephens. It was a match that brought down the curtain on pre-war J Class activity and the class itself.
As recently as 1989, predictions were made that this effortlessly handsome class would never again see the light of day. Hanuman is now the fifth yacht to disprove that.
Hanuman is owner Jim Clark’s third superyacht from builders Royal Huisman in Holland. They have all been very different in concept. He still owns the 198ft, Gerard Dykstra-designed, three-masted schooner Athena, a vast private yacht which vied with Mirabella V and Maltese Falcon for the superlatives when launched in 2004.
He also commissioned German Frers to design the 156ft Hyperion, not only a very large sloop when she was launched in 1998, but one equipped with computerised control systems. Netscape founder Clark launched Seascape to develop the controls for Hyperion – Clark wrote many of the programs himself and their derivatives are now common on large yachts. It was said he could control her via the computer in his California office wherever she was. Today he could probably do it from his mobile phone.
Royal Huisman fabricated Hanuman with an all-aluminium hull shell and deck, and she has fine lines to her deck superstructures. The companionway deckhouse is notably subtle compared with those of Velsheda and Ranger.
Hanuman’s deckhouse comprises a carbon fibre carcass skinned in teak and with her sweeping laid decks and matt-finished deck hardware, achieved through bead-blasting the fittings, she is one of the best-looking Js afloat.
Her black hull, with its gold cove line, looks magnificent. More than 47ft of the 138ft hull is overhang – just look at that bow! – and there’s a lot of tumblehome, designed to increase her righting moment, but restrict the width of her deck.
For the interior, Jim Clark stayed loyal to the designer behind Hyperion and Athena, Pieter Beeldsnijder. His style has been particularly successful aboard this yacht – intricate carvings of the god Hanuman complement a spectacular French walnut finish achieved by art and architectural renovation experts Acanthus International.
Hanuman is a subtle blend of historical J and 21st Century technology. Although Endeavour II was the last word in British design in 1936, created by iconic British yachtsman Charles E Nicholson and benefiting from her owner’s aviation background, she lost her mast twice in 1936 and was widely condemned by pundits for being too extreme to continue at the forefront of big-yacht racing.
That didn’t deter Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith. For his second tilt at the Cup in 1937, he took a veritable armada across the Atlantic, including the first Endeavour, only to be trounced by Ranger, a snub-nosed, barrel-bowed Super J that was light years ahead in design.
While the English still regarded yacht design as an art form, the American approach was entirely scientific. Ranger was the product of long hours in the test-tank with models and the 4-0 thrashing of Endeavour II was the sobering result.
It is perhaps ironic then that an American chose to recreate Endeavour II. Gerard Dykstra’s design office, now led by Thijs Nikkels, was responsible for transferring Nicholson’s lines to a modern format. Dykstra has been the naval architect of choice for reconfiguring all the Js currently afloat, although André Hoek is behind Lionheart, a Ranger model that was never built which will be the biggest J afloat when launched this spring.
Building a J today costs in the region of €25 million and to make them worthwhile they must perform as cruising yachts, charter yachts and hard-sailed racing yachts.
To this end, Dykstra has developed the lines to accommodate the paraphernalia of a modern superyacht. The freeboard has been raised to compensate for the yacht’s sitting lower in the water.
As a result the original maximum LWL of 87ft has been discarded for rating purposes, although restrictions remain for the rig and there is a general adherence to the original hull lines. Dykstra has invested much effort in fine-tuning the J Class rule and while owners chase line honours there is growing acceptance that the rule can offer equitable racing, so smaller Js like Shamrock V and the soon-to-be-launched Rainbow have a good chance of success on corrected time.
Specs: LOA 42.09m
Manufacturer: Royal Huisman