“It was a really nice experience sailing her downwind in 17-20 kts of breeze on a 160nm delivery trip from Marstrand to Falsterbo (Malmo).
We had Peter Gustafsson of BLUR.SE sailing fame onboard for the first leg down to southern Sweden. There is also a fun video from the downwind ride,” reports Fredrik Rydin, the proud new owner of the J/121 JOLENE. Here is Peter’s report below.
“I have been intrigued with Fredrik Rydin’s process of bringing his new J/121 up to speed in Marstrand. His focus is on shorthanded racing and the appropriate sail wardrobe, instrumentation and systems to make sailing shorthanded effective- in fact, many of those elements are similar to my J/111 BLUR.SE.
It has been hectic to get everything done, so there was no traditional testing of everything before the delivery from Marstrand to Stockholm. The plan was for Fredrik and his father Axel to do the delivery/sail to Stockholm and it was possible for me to join them on the first stage. It was especially exciting for me, since the weather forecast for the Marstrand-Malmö route promised a windspeed of 8-10 meters per second (about 16-21 kts).
When I landed in Marstrand, it was still a full-on commissioning process! Sikaflex and cartons everywhere! But, somewhere one has to draw a line, and it felt like order was necessary to get the ball rolling. It is easy under estimating how much work it takes to get a bigger boat commissioned and how many things can go wrong. So, it felt like Fredrik and Axel were happy to finally get away sailing on their new ocean greyhound!
Once out of the pretty harbor of Marstrand, we hoisted the main, then went straight to the A3 asymmetric! But, we soon switched soon to an A2! Bigger, faster! Time to celebrate with morning coffee (see Fredrik here).
Even though the boat is only meter longer than the J/111, it feels like a much bigger boat. For better or worse, everything gets a bit heavier, but the sailing becomes a bit more comfortable.
So, when the wind pressed at 9-11 m/s (~17-22 kts), we completely trucked downwind! We were doing a steady 12-13-14 kts with tops of 18-19 kts on the knotmeter. The boat has very responsive steering, despite two steering wheels. And, no trouble placing the boat right where you wanted it in the waves. She also felt stiffer than J/111 and, in places where BLUR probably would broach, one could easily get back to onto course and dive down the next wave.
After sailing both the 88 and 111, and now the 121, I think the VMG downwind planing threshold is moved slightly up the wind scale relative to her smaller sisterships. If the 88 planes at 7-8 m/s (13.5-15.5 kts), Blur at 9-10 m/s (17.5-19.5 kts), you’ll really like 10-11 m/s (19-22 kts) on the 121 to make it really fun! But, then it will go really fast, “sending it downhill” so to speak!
There were no good polars yet for the boat (the only one that it had was the ORC polar chart from ORC for the J/121 JACKHAMMER from the United Kingdom, which has a different configuration). So, we drove using BLUR’s numbers downwind. TWA seemed about right, and in conditions where the 111 was always on a plane, we were steady at 100% planing on the 121. Fun for BLUR… but, as I said, a little more wind, the 121 will simply fly away- you could tell going down the waves, the 121 is a reaching/ running speedster, hitting 19 kts was not hard for this boat- effortless, in fact. This boat will surprise a lot of sailors at its ability to go fast offshore- a reaching machine that can still go upwind like its legendary predescessors.
The cockpit is incredibly comfortable. Easy to get around and good ergonomics for both skipper and the trimmer, who can sit in front of the steering wheel and have good contact with the skipper without being in the way. All fittings are where they should be, although there are clearly some adjustments needed to be made for how Fredrik wants to sail the boat.
We dropped past Vinga and down towards Nidingen. Perfect conditions and steady 10-13 knots boatspeed (planing mode, obviously) with sporadic bursts of 16-17 kts. The route took us far west, but we chose to drive safe.
We experienced another gorgeous sunset. I estimated that this was the eighth full night sail this year, which feels very good. Swedish summer nights out on the wild blue sea are something special. It is twilight all night long!
The last gasp of breeze was at Gilleleje, before the wind turned southeast and dropped to 2-3 m/s (3.5-5.8 kts) at Höganäs. Pretty much as the weather routing had predicted.
After a little motoring at Helsingør, we could sail on a reach in the light wind down towards Ven. We tested the water ballast (small windward heel effect in the light wind) and compared the performance between jib and J0 (a big jib or small code that is rolled out flying from the top of the mast and end of the sprit pole). Useful data collection, and we were able to work around the sail chart and the experience we have on BLUR.
Here is what the white sail wardrobe looks like: a 104% Jib LM (40 m2), a J0 (JIB ZERO 61 m2) and a heavy air #4 set on its own inside of the foretriangle (30 m2).
Here is what the North Sails sail selection chart looks like for the J/121 JOLENE.
So, the sail chart is very close to what we have on BLUR. But, on J/121, you’ve been thinking right from the start. One big difference is that J0 is placed on the end of the sprit and masthead and stretched tight with a 3:1 ratio; that gives good sail shape and enables 55 TWA sailing upwind in light airs- a big advantage!
The interior has the same layout as the J/109, the “owners cabin” on the port side aft and a giant head and storage locker on the starboard side. There is a great forepeak dedicated to sail handling, but can also accommodate two pipe berths.
The interior is perfect for single or doublehanded racing. But, offshore you should not sail more than six to be comfortable in the two main cabin settees and swing up bunks. But, with water ballast it should be just right to sail with six.
Well, it was now time to find the dock in Malmo after the Öresund Bridge. We then started the autopilot, which required a little change of settings and will need adjustments in further “sea trials”. Many things to be adjusted on a new boat!
We finally make it to the dock in the Falsterbok channel. Many “thanks” to Fredrik for letting me go. And, congratulations on a beautiful boat!
How does it compare to a J/111? It is the same concept, but with a clearer focus on offshore racing. This boat is best for stretching its legs out at sea. To Bermuda, Hawaii or a quick Gotland Runt Race. It does not feel as sporty (powered up) as a J/111, or even a J/88. But, in offshore weather and waves like we experienced, you will reel off the miles offshore without getting tired- it is a very comfortable boat! And, with a smaller crew.
Right now Fredrik and Axel are in Kalmarsund. They drove with the A2 asymmetric spinnaker from the canal to the cutout and got the chance to pump in 400 liters of water into the water tanks; they were sailing with a TWA 135 at 7-9 m/s (13.5-17.0 kts). There is no question, the water ballast definitely makes a difference. We wish them a nice trip!”