Canterbury J Class

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The Canterbury J is a project that lets existing or newcomers to the sport of radio sailing, get started quickly with a good handling model yacht that is easy to build and cost effective. Additionally it has ease of transport and a good resale potential. The Canterbury J is a 1.22 metre (48″) yacht with a main and foresail rigged to a 1.6 metre mast. 350 hulls have been sold and they are to be found in all areas of New Zealand and some as far afield as the USA, Canada and the UK. It is a one-design yacht and all hulls come from official molds approved by the Canterbury J Owners Association. Each hull has a unique identification number molded into the hull.

The Canterbury J is registered with the NZ Radio Yachting Association as a nationally recognised class.

It is not uncommon to see groups of Canterbury J’s approaching the finish line together, particularly in calm conditions, when their ability to sail in the lightest of airs poses a challenge to other classes of yachts. A great Canterbury J attribute is the ability to negotiate weed and shallows because of the integrated keel / rudder profile; and it is this characteristic that has boosted our membership, making Canterbury J’s the predominant class of yacht sailed in Christchurch.

Another benefit is that within the basic parameters of the rules there is a great deal of freedom for the average builder to reflect ingenuity and skill, with the rigging, hatches, internal layout of components and deck layouts and composition.

The Canterbury J class history

In 1998 weed was the scourge of the Christchurch Model Yacht Club at Lake Victoria, making sailing long fin boats almost impossible. At this time Dave Heanly had purchased a commercial glass fibre hull of a traditional long keel yacht. This model, 48″ long was based on a MAP plan of the famous J Class Ranger, the last of the pre W.W.II defenders of the Cup, designed by Olin Stephens. Dave discussed with Hugh Hobden ideas for developing a rig for the boat with the idea of retaining some of the traditional form with model practicality. The resulting rig worked well and with two smaller ones for higher winds, it coped with a wide range of weather. The possibilities of this design seemed ideal for Lake Victoria

Peter Vincent and Hugh Hobden, after some protracted negotiations, purchased hulls and built up boats. With three boats sailing, others saw the potential and the rest is history – and an active Owners’ Association has been formed, a set of class rules drawn up and Championships sailed.

The basic philosophy was to have an easily sailed and economically built RC yacht based on a one design principles to provide good resale value, and with racing dependant more on the skipper rather than designer/builder skill. These objects have been attained and the Class has attracted many first time sailors, mostly from the retired ranks who share the common creed, “it sure beats gardening!”

The boat can be transported easily in the average car or station wagon usually fully rigged. Many boats have features of the original J Class in the form of deck layouts, hatches and names like Shamrock (No 1), Thistle, Endeavour etc.

In Christchurch it is not unusual to see “The Wednesday Windlers” muster fleets of 25 plus for their around-the-lake sailing on Lake Victoria.

A rapidly growing fleet also meet at various venues and days in the Bay of Plenty area thanks to the Tauranga Radio Sailing Club.

Why not visit the venues?    Members turn out, except in the most atrocious weather, and are usually pleased to “turn over the controls” to interested spectators.

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© The Canterbury “J” Class (One Design) Owners Association Incorporated.

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