Just over 100 years since the advent of the Universal Rule, to which they were originally built, this year the magnificent J Class will race its first ever World Championship in Newport, Rhode Island, from 21-26 August.
The J Class Association (JCA) has recently become an affiliate member of the International Maxi Association (IMA), which administers the International Maxi Class, recognised by the sport’s governing body, World Sailing. This status allows the IMA to stage annual world championships such as the Maxi 72 World Championship, held every September in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
For the Js, this first World Championship will conclude a 2017 season heavily dominated by the America’s Cup, following the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta and the America’s Cup J Class Regatta in Bermuda in June.
From Bermuda, they will return to their spiritual home of Newport, Rhode Island for the inaugural J Class World Championship, competing on the same waters as they did in their 1930s heyday, when American yachts, led by the likes of Harold S. Vanderbilt, of the US railroad dynasty, fought off strong competition from British tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton and aviation pioneer Sir Tom Sopwith.
"With the launch of Svea/JS1 last month, the J Class fleet now has nine yachts afloat - the largest number in our history. As the JCA continues to grow and welcome new launches to the fleet, we are really excited to be holding our first J Class World Championship in Newport this summer.' says J Class Association secretary Louise Morton.
“Hosted by New York Yacht Club in collaboration with the JCA and the IMA, at least six Js are expected to grace the start line at this inaugural edition. We have long enjoyed a positive racing relationship with IMA members and are delighted now to be part of its supportive, global community.”
Notable yachts already signed up include Velsheda, Ranger, Lionheart, Svea, Hanuman and Topaz, which will be based in Newport Shipyard.
The J Class is the latest addition to the ever-expanding International Maxi Association, which includes Maxi 72 grand prix racers and the stylish Wally class as affiliate members.
The J Class in its full majesty. Photo: Ian Roman
IMA Secretary General Andrew McIrvine, who spent two years developing this relationship comments, "We are delighted with our new affiliation with the JCA. It is a project we worked hard on, and seeing it finalised is deeply satisfying. The IMA’s two World Championships for 2017 will therefore be for the Maxi 72s in Porto Cervo, and the other for these iconic vessels in August off Newport, Rhode Island.
Because of this affiliation, as many as six J Class owners are becoming IMA members. It will also further our partnership with the New York Yacht Club following on from the Maxi 72 North American Championship which we held in Newport in conjunction with the NYYC last year. To return a year later with the J Class is a great achievement.”
Following its long association with the America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club Commodore Philip A. Lotz adds,
"It makes perfect sense for the J Class to return to its spiritual home in Newport to contest its first World Championship, and the New York Yacht Club, at Harbour Court, is extremely proud to host this historic International Maxi Association World Championship. Nearly three decades ago, the duel between Shamrock and Endeavour on Narragansett Bay captivated the sailing world. We anticipate this event to generate a similar, if not more enthusiastic, response, and we’re excited to play our part.”
J Class action: Photo ©: Ian Roman
About the IMA
The International Maxi Association (IMA) represents the owners of Maxi yachts from all over the world. Recognised in 2010 as the ISAF international class of Maxi yachts, the IMA is uniquely entitled to organise World and European championships for Maxi yachts.
About the JClA
The J Class Association was formed to promote, protect and develop the interests of the existing J Class yachts JK3, JK4 (1991) and JK7, and to represent new yachts built to the original lines which conform to the J Class Rules. The JCA organises JCA events worldwide and represents the Class at open regattas, created and manages the Rules of Measurement and a rating system and created a central source of exchange of information and a private forum for debate between the Owners.