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Yachtspot - J/Boats Australia Profile: Peter Rendle talks to Ray and Sandra Entwistle

by Peter Rendle, 26 Mar 2018 15:11 PDT
Ray and Sandra Entwistle © Yachtspot

Sail-World's Peter Rendle talked to Ray and Sandra Entwistle of Yachtspot about their start in sailing, and how they became involved in the marine industry. Yachtspot import the J/Boats range into Australia and Peter found out why they chose this range specifically.

Please describe both your experience in sailing prior to being involved in the yacht import business.

For our early sailing life we have been keen dinghy sailors, sailing Cherubs, 505s, International 14s to 18ft Skiffs in the UK, Europe and Australia. As the years have passed we've upsized to yachts and have learnt a thing or two about the qualities and attributes of various designs and builds. We are proud representatives and distributors of J/Boats, one of the greatest yacht brands available today, which encompass the spectrum from racing to performance cruising yachts.

Back in 2007, we decided to make the progression from dinghies to yachts. We did a lot of research and homework as we wanted a yacht with high performance, ease of sailing short-handed and with cruising comforts. The only yacht which met (and later exceeded) our expectations was the J/109 35ft cruiser/racer. Such was our trust in the J/Boats brand, we purchased the J/109 sight unseen, and having never sailed one before. We went on to be very successful racing the J/109 on the Sydney circuit and enjoyed many weeks cruising up and down the NSW coast.

We have owned a number of J/Boats models over the years and had a lot of fun racing and cruising. We were so pleased with the J/109, we purchased the 40ft J/122 'Jackpot' finishing 1st IRC Div 1 Short Ocean Pointscore and Gascoigne Cup to name a few. J/122 'Jackpot' then went on to win Pittwater Coffs in 2016 with her new owner.

Next, we owned the 36ft J/111 'Jake' racing in Div 1 IRC SOPS and OPS from the CYCA. Despite missing three races in the series' due to test sails and boat shows, we came 2nd Overall IRC Ocean Point Score Series, and 3rd Overall IRC Short Ocean Pointscore Series. Div 1 generally consists of yachts in the 40ft to 60ft range - we felt like a dinghy on the start line, but the J/111 punches well above her weight in mixed fleet racing.

Ray, what was the reason for migrating to Australia from your native UK?

Well, I am from northern England (near Sheffield) so the choice was to sail on the North Sea, drive to the Solent every weekend or move to Sydney. After competing in the European 18ft skiff circuit for five years and doing very well my crew and I were invited to Sydney to race 18ft Skiffs in the in mid '90s. This was the televised 18ft skiff Grand Prix circuit based at Sydney Flying Squadron, which travelled the country - we raced the Oracle 18 footer.

After competing in this incredible boat and experiencing this amazing country, the North Sea or the Solent never had the same appeal again. Although I do admit to missing Cowes week, the Isle of Wight race, south of France and Lake Garda.

When and how did you and Sandra meet? (with regards to both your involvement with sailing)

We met many years ago at Sydney Flying Squadron at Kirribilli where I was racing the Oracle 18 footer and Sandra was sailing an International 14.

What attracted you to getting involved with the J/Boat range?

Back in 2007, we decided to make the progression from dinghies to yachts. We did a lot of research and homework as we wanted a yacht with high performance, ease of sailing short-handed and with cruising comforts. The only yacht which met (and later exceeded) our expectations was the J/109 35ft cruiser/racer. Such was our trust in the J/Boats brand, we purchased the J/109 sight unseen, and having never sailed one before. We went on to be very successful racing the J/109 on the Sydney circuit and enjoyed many weeks cruising up and down the NSW coast.

J/Boats is a family company and their ethos is to only design and build yachts that they can sail as a family. We appreciate the design, construction methods and build quality. J/Boats incorporate features to facilitate ease of sailing, enable short-handed sailing or sailing with less crew. They include lots of purchase to the systems to minimise sheet loadings, use high stability and low centre of gravity lead keels for a smooth sea-kindly motion, and fit top-quality equipment as standard. J/Boats are built using the resin-infusion construction with the grid infused with the hull, which ensures a strong, stiff hull with 10-year warranty against osmosis.

When were you appointed the official importer of J/Boats into Australia?

During our ownership of the J/109 we were in contact with Alan and Jeff Johnstone (Designer and President of J/Boats) and built a strong relationship. In 2008, such was our enthusiasm for the product, J/Boats offered us the Australian distributorship, we setup our company Yachtspot and haven't looked back. We are very proud of increasing Australians awareness of the J/Boats brand, and seeing fleets building across the country. There is not a month that goes by without someone saying they have raced or learnt to sail on a J/24! The J/24 design is now 40 years old and is still a strong one-design class with a loyal following in Australia. People are inherently familiar with the J/Boats name, but some haven't yet make the link with the newer models.

What models are available to Australian buyers.

All models are available in Australia and we are fortunate that J/Boats manufacture in both France and the USA so we can supply from the country with the most favourable exchange rate.

J/Boats offer two streams of design, and the model numbers are linked to the metric size (eg J/88 is 8.8m).

The Performance Cruiser range is the 'E' series with 3 models being the J/97E, J/112E and J/122E. They have beautiful interiors for cruising but are no slouch on the race course. The J/112E and J/122E have been very successful in blue-water racing such as Fastnet Race, RORC Championship, OSTAR Race, Bermuda Race, Middle Sea Race to name a few.

The Racing range are all one-design class yachts, with 4 models being the J/70, J/88, J/111 and new J/121. The J/121 was launched late last year and the first J/121 is due into Australia in March 2018, being hull #5. The J/121 is a 40ft offshore racing yacht designed to sail with 5 or less crew. She has water ballast, carbon rig, with sail handling equipment and setup to enable distance racing without the need to find 8-10 crew.

What are the most popular models in Australia?

All the J/Boat models are popular as there is a design to suit the type of sailing you enjoy. The 'Racing' range, particularly the J/111 (36ft), is very popular in Melbourne. We have five J/111's regularly competing one-design class racing from Sandringham. One of our J/111 owners has competed in three J/111 World Championships.

The J/70 (7m sportsboat) is the fastest growing one-design class in the world – over 1,400 J/70's have been delivered worldwide since its launch 5 years ago. We have 20 J/70's sailing in Australia with the class growing. Several of our J/70 owners have enjoyed competing in the World Championships and European events – they just take their sails and charter a J/70.

The last Worlds was in Sardinia with 175 J/70's competing – such an amazing and unforgettable experience. The J/70 has been attributed for increasing sailing participation and reducing the age demographic in sailing clubs around the world. The class rules are very sailor friendly with no weight limit (J/70's are generally sailed with 3-5 crew), no hiking (2 crew can sit legs out) which encourages people of all ages, male and female to join the class.

The J/70 can be easily towed behind a family sedan as the keel is raised for trailering and can be crane lifted or ramp launched. The J/70 comes standard with carbon mast, carbon boom and carbon retractable bowsprit.

The Performance Cruiser range ('E' series) are very popular in Sydney/Pittwater as the 'E' range offers outstanding racing performance and luxurious cruising - great for the eastern seaboard. The 36ft J/112E was launched just last year are we already have 4x J/112E's on the harbour enjoying club racing.

All the J/Boat models are designed to be sailed with less crew, so they really broaden the appeal for owners who just want to enjoy sailing without the hassle of finding large crews.

How do you see the market developing in this country and what are the plans for future expansion?

Two of the positive growth areas in sailing today are one-design class racing, and short-handed racing for skippers tired of having to round up lots of crew. Owners have been sailing their J's offshore for years and their enthusiastic feedback has fuelled J/Boats' continuous pursuit of designing the world's most comfortable sailing boats. Sailing comfort means sailing without stress - like having clear visibility from the helm; easy access to vital sail controls to allow short-handed sailing; a smooth sea-kindly motion; numerous handholds and foot braces both above and below decks for secure movement; and a highly manoeuvrable, responsive boat. Sailboats that inspire confidence inspire their owners to sail more.

Yachtspot will continue to offer individual service to our customers, focussed on providing the best and most enjoyable sailing outcome for our J/Boat owners.

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