The last two summers, I had the privilege of sailing our J/9—both non-spinnaker racing and daysailing. With that much time aboard, I feel very confident in writing about it.
For starters, the J/9 was designed first and foremost as a daysailer; everything about it was created with that purpose in mind. Like all J models, sailing ability is a must. True to form, the boat balances beautifully and is a joy to sail. Unlike boats designed for racing, the boat has more stability, since the crew is expected to be sitting in the cockpit, not on the rail, and may be single-handled.
Listing the key attributes of the J/9 from a sailing standpoint: stability, ease of handling, solid feeling, and pure enjoyment. When a puff hits, the boat heels but then settles in, continuing on its way forward without rounding up or struggling in any way. Very confidence inspiring—it doesn’t feel like your typical 28-footer. The cockpit is long and comfortable, a key design element for the get-go.
Being a daysailer, the boat must be quick to get underway and put away. Jeff J insisted that the boat sail well under main alone, and it does. Accordingly, the mast is further forward, and the furling fractional jib is smaller than it would be otherwise. You can sail with the main alone when single handing, but once you unroll the jib the boat just takes off, despite its relatively modest size. There is an optional short sprit and asymmetrical spinnaker package, and if you are so inclined this adds a lot of zip to the boat off the wind.
So the sailing boxes are checked, but there is much more to the J/9 that makes it a really sweet boat for its size. First, there are three motor choices: diesel with saildrive, electric inboard, or outboard. Our boat has the diesel and it has loads of power. The electric option is becoming increasingly popular, and on some small inland lakes owners have opted for the outboard. As the commercial says, “have it your way.”
The construction of the boat is solid and the hardware and rigging is excellent, including an electrical system. There is a real head below and settee berths P&S, comfortable for sitting down and changing. If you are looking for standing headroom, the J/9 is not for you, nor is it needed for the purpose the boat was designed for.
All in all, a comfortable, easy to sail, solid, well-built boat, well fitted-out, and she looks handsome on the water. There is much to like in the J/9!