J/9: The Ultimate Day Sailor

By Katherine Stone

J/Boats. Billy Black Photography

When J/Boats set out to make their latest model, their thinking moved away from a boat that you had to tweak all the time, worry about having enough sandwiches to feed the crew, ensuring that you had big strong lads to do the heavy lifting and making certain that you had new sails for the big regattas. Although the J/9 is not a sport boat, it is designed like any other J/Boat for sailing first and foremost. After all, they have won over 20 awards for their sailboat designs featuring a second-generation family-run business since 1988.

“With the J/9 we set out to reimagine how to make sailing easier, more relaxing and more inclusive. This is a boat you can sail by yourself in just a few minutes or bring along the whole gang with plenty of room to spare,” emphasizes Jeff Johnstone, president of J/Boats.

Probably one of the most important values that has come out of the post-pandemic time is the need for a simpler life to enjoy with family and friends. This sleek new 28-footer couldn’t have arrived on the sailing scene at a better time.

jboats 400

So, how lucky was I to discover that there was a J/9 (with hull 9) in Canada. Not only in Canada, but right in my own sailing grounds AND at my yacht club, and owned by an old friend, Boyd Taylor and his wife Jan. Boyd hails from Newfoundland, but now makes Toronto his base, with plans to spend more time on Georgian Bay where the boat will eventually end up. The Taylors have owned many sailboats in their lifetime, some racing and some cruising, and have chartered numerous boats in lovely cruising areas. What they both wanted now was a boat they could easily daysail by themselves or that could entertain family and friends without a lot of effort and that was not a trailer boat (deck-stepped).

J/Boats. Billy Black Photography

When he explained this to Mike Wolfs, at North Sails, he suggested that they take a look at the new J/9 which just might fit the bill. Boyd and Jan couldn’t be happier with their decision to purchase the boat. Due to the fact that the boat would be built in Newport, RI, they knew that their wait time to get it would be much shorter than for a European-built boat. What they love most about the J/9 is how comfortable and easy it is to sail solo, with a spouse, family or friends with the option of a below-decks auto-pilot.


Boyd and I chose a beautiful day in July for a sail on Lake Ontario. Although famous for no-wind days in mid-summer, we had a lovely 6-8 knot breeze where we scooted across the water on Windswept doing 5 to 6 knots. All we had to do was hoist the mainsail (which has now been rigged with lazy jacks) and unfurl the jib. The mainsail is what drives this boat and the real focus of the J/Boats design. Not only is it easier to sail, but it allows for the best downwind sailing with a larger main. Surprisingly, it also sails well with just the rolling furling jib, with an option for a self-tacking jib track. Have you ever noticed that while you are out daysailing, well over half the boats only have one sail up? The aluminum, single spreader mast is keel-stepped and there is a choice of the standard 4.9’ fixed keel or 3.9’ shoal-draft option.

Another option is the carbon-fibre bowsprit, which Boyd and Jan elected to get, allowing them to have a code zero and A sail. Boyd easily hooked up the code zero and we sailed most of the afternoon enjoying the extra speed it provided.

large open cockpit 400

Two cabin-topped Harken 35 self-tailing winches do all the work for sail controls. And jib fairleads help prevent overrides on the winches.

the large open cockpit is a highlight and a pleasure.


You can easily sit in the deep, self-draining cockpit steering with the tiller, operating the 4:1 mainsheet on the ultra-slim mainsheet pedestal, while bracing your feet against the opposite cockpit seat. With all sail controls coming back to the cockpit it is a snap to solo sail. The high coamings create very comfortable inboard seating. With a 9-foot-long cockpit, it easily seats six adults on the 8.4-foot-long seats which support four corner seats. Manoeuverability to get in and out of the boat is fantastic. Step off the back onto the swim platform and then onto the dock without steps. The Taylors opted for the Flexiteek cockpit flooring which feels wonderful underfoot. There are both transom and starboard boarding gates with an optional swim ladder. Don’t forget how much the kids (and adults) will enjoy dragging their feet in the water on the way home from a perfect warm summer afternoon sail.


There are two oversized stainless bow cleats. The two handrails just aft of the mast are a great safety feature. What I liked best of all is that there is no teak or brightwork to worry about!


With the demand for a sustainable option to the diesel-powered engine, this is the first time that J/Boats has offered the option of an electric motor. It’s a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 pod drive engine with a dual-blade folding prop powered by a 48V Power -5000 lithium-ion battery.

the family 400

“In calm conditions, the range is 20 miles at 5 knots and about 12 miles at 6 knots,” explains Jeff Johnston, “It’s also much simpler to install and maintain, with no fuel tank no fuel lines, or exhaust system.”

The family are enjoying the J/9 daysailor and look forward to sailing it in Sans Souci.

Although Boyd is very conscious about the environment, he felt that the electric would put too much restraint on gunk-holing adventures, so he opted for the traditional Yanmar inboard diesel engine. A transom bracket for a 4-stroke gas outboard or portable electric engine is also available.


Moving below we find a comfortable settee on the port side with a removable backrest that creates a 7-1/2’ sleeping berth. The starboard side provides a shorter seat and a place for the cooler, creating a larger bulkhead. The bulkheads are closed off on both sides to create two very generous sail lockers in the cockpit. Cubbie holes for gear storage are located behind both settees. In total, there is accommodation for three people or a family with two small children to do a weekend jaunt.

Flexiteek floors cover the sole of the boat with a floorboard that lifts up to reveal easy access to the keel bolts and a bilge pump. There is good ventilation with opening ports on both sides and a skylight hatch as well as two optional opening ports in the aft-face of the cabin.

J9 underway 400

The marine head system is forward of the main bulkhead on the port side with a privacy curtain. Not the most luxurious, but sufficient if it is needed during a day sail. There is an optional V-berth and forepeak trim package available that is quite roomy. Forward of the v-berth is an anchor locker which is not accessible from the deck.

Definitely a good boat to consider that optimized daysailing. The base price of $115,900 US is FOB Rhode Island doesn’t include much; so do your comparison shopping carefully. I think you will find it competitive with other boats in the same size range, but it will outscore them with the larger more comfortable cockpit and sailing features of a larger boat.

Underway on a great day.

Canadian Boat Dealers:

Pat Sturgeon Yachts                                                

Mississauga, ON                                                                 


Sunnybrook Yachts 

Lunenburg, NS


 Fraser Yacht Sales

Vancouver, BC


J/9 Dimensionsft/lbsm/k
Standard Draft4.901.50
Shoal Draft3.901.19
100% SA44941.71

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