We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Bob Johnstone nominates the J/105

“The J/105 revolutionised downwind sailing in the sport as the first boat over 20ft with a retractable bowsprit and asymmetric spinnaker,” explains J-Boats founder Bob Johnstone. “The system was pioneered on my son Peter’s One-Design 14.” Peter’s college housemate was then Jonathan Pudney, son of famed International 14 sailor Jeremy. When Peter was looking for ideas for a more exciting boat, Jonathan suggested the system being used on a Cross-3 Int 14. “The rest is history,” adds Johnstone.

“The J/105 became the most popular offshore one-design over 30ft worldwide with over 700 boats racing from Chile to the UK. A J/105 has been RORC Boat of the Year, won the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and also won many double-handed races.”

J-Boats went on to develop the sprit concept on many cruiser/racer designs. He adds: “The earliest use of the system with a retractable sprit that I could find was on fishing boats in south-west England called ‘Sprit Boomers’ in the 16th or 17th century.”

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty

Make sure you check out our full list of Coolest Yachts.

J/105 stats rating:

Top speed: 15 knots
LOA: 10.51m/34.5ft
Launched: 1991
Berths: 4
Price: $50,000 (used)
Adrenalin factor: 60%

Bob Johnstone

Bob Johnstone and his brother Rod co-founded J-Boats after Rod built the first J/24 in his garage in Connecticut in 1977; it became the most popular one-design keeboat in the world. J-Boats went on to build 14,000 yachts over 40 designs. In 2002 Bob founded power brand MJM Yachts, and this year pubished his autobiography, Maverick Marketer.

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