Friday, November 14, 2008

Testimonial - Buying a New J/105

Chris & Carolyn Groobey have been racing their J/105 JAVA in the very competitive Annapolis fleet on Chesapeake Bay for over 10 years. Last summer, after reviewing all of their potential boat options, the Groobeys decided to trade in hull #58 for a new J/105. Sailing writer Carol Cronin recently spoke with Chris to get his take on the new boat and the continuing success and appeal of the J/105 class.

JB: What was the original inspiration for buying your first J/105?
Chris: I owned a Tripp 26 with a co-owner. We each got married and wanted a one design race boat that was dual purpose. Over the years the J/105 has turned into more of a full-on racing program for us, and now we travel with the boat to Key West and Block Island Race Week.

JB: What is it about the class and boat that you like most?
Chris: We’ve made friends around the country as a result of this boat. That’s why we chose to stay with the J/105 when it was time for a new boat. We looked at the Melges 32, but it was too pro heavy. We appreciate the sail limitations and limitations on pros in the J/105 class and really like that we don’t have to travel, as we have one design racing every weekend. For our season-ending regatta this weekend in Annapolis we have 22 boats signed up. The fleet’s still very strong, which is really amazing. Best of all, there’s a great bunch of people in the fleet and we all like each other.

JB: Why buy a new J/105?
Chris: It’s our old boat with a new car smell. Our old boat was built in 1993, and it was time to move to a new boat anyway. J/Boats started talking about a new boat from a new builder, and they asked current owners for ideas about what options should be standard, etc. I was involved from the beginning, and we were certainly aware of US Watercraft’s reputation and confident we were going to get a great boat. So even though we’d never seen one, we were confident enough to make the commitment. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the high build quality.

JB: How long have you had it, and how much have you sailed it?
Chris: The boat was delivered in early September. We’ve been racing every weekend since then except the Annapolis Boat Show, where the boat was on display. The switch from the wheel to tiller has created a little bit of a learning curve, as I haven’t steered with a tiller for 10 years!

JB: Tell us a little about your team/crew.
Chris: The core crew is Carolyn and me and friends we’ve sailed with for years. Peter Scott and I have raced together for fifteen years. Linda Ambrose, another great friend, is a regular. In our local Fleet 3 we have a head count rule in addition to weight rule that allows for four men and two women. That’s an attractive family friendly rule that other fleets are considering. We’ve never sailed with pros.

JB: What was your best finish in the old boat?
Chris: Our goal at Key West was always the top ten, and we made it once. Usually we finish in the low teens. In recent years we’ve been sailing less since our lives have been crazy, and other programs have become more serious so they’ve passed us by. Goals with the new boat are similar: top five for local high point. We hope to sail Key West next year, and finish in the top third. One nice thing about the new boat is that it’s raised our excitement level again.

JB: Anything you’d like to add?
Chris: Please put in a good word for US Watercraft, and especially Ken Comerford of Northpoint Yacht Sales, the J dealer in Annapolis. Everyone was extraordinarily helpful in getting our boat up to speed, and it was a great buying experience.

J/105 website