J/111 Blur³ | downwind sails

Blur, the pros in J Lance 7 and dutch Excentric Ripper during Spi Ouest. Photo: Stefan Blom.

This is an English version of this article.

In an earlier article on upwind sails, I focused on our inventory that was basically one-design. When it comes to the downwind inventory our philosophy is slightly different.

One goal with the J/111 is to get as much fun downwind sailing as possible. The crazy downwind rides are the ones you remember after the season, and we wanted more of those. Also we wanted the boat to be really fast in light air, when many of our races are decided. Naturally we would pay with a higher rating, but we were prepared to do that and didn’t want to optimize for any rule. Just maximum fun.

Naturally we brought a lot of the thinking from the J/109, where we’ve done great with the class A2 runner in TWA 135-170 and a smaller and flatter A5 reacher in 100-135. The A5 also doubled as a heavy weather chute, especially shorthanded.

The difference with the J/111 is that it builds apparent wind much faster, that we need to get it on a plane as soon as possible and that we might miss the genoa in certain conditions offshore or going around islands.

Here’s the first version of our Sail Selection Chart. Thanks to Anders Lewander from North Sails who helped map the sails to TWA and TWS. Sail selection is always a balance between being around, without weak spots, or having rally fast sails for some special conditions. With fewer sails it’s even more important to get this right,.

Now we have started the endless task of verifying and adjusting the chart. What works and what doesn’t? Sweet spots and blind spots? With limited time, we’ve identified a short list of questions that’s important right now: primarily cross overs for the code 0 as well as target speeds and VMG downwind.

Nice with a lots of area going downwind. All photos from our sail tests in Långedrag taken by Olof Stenlund..

Asymmetric spinnaker A2 Superkote 80-60 aka “The Whomper”
Mould area: 157 m² | IRC area: 151.77 m² | ORCi area: 151.99 m²

The one design runner for J/111 is ~130 m² but we’ve chosen to make it bigger. One reason is to get more power in the light stuff, another is that we want to lower the treshold where the boat planes. If we get it going in our normal see breeze conditions, that would pay dividends. Also, with 157 m² nylon, we’ll get some exciting downwind runs throughout the register :-)

An A2 can come in many shapes. On the 109 we started out with a Quantum design that was very versatile and fast in many conditions, TWA 125-160. When we switched to North and the latest generation of pure runners for the 109, it was super fast on the run but choked at tighter angles. You can’t get it all…

On the J/111 we go low at displacement speed between 4 and 16 knots of wind. Then we want the sail to rotate to windward so we release the tack and hike the boat to help the sail.

In more wind the boat will plane, and we usually end up with TWA 140-150. High enough to generate power, low enough to sail flat. The 111 doesn’t have much stability so it’s important to find the right balance.

Naturally the design becomes a compromise since it should work in both “modes”.

When going low it’s easy to get to much twist. This can be managed with twings. On the 109 we didn’t need it since the A2 was a pure runner. On the 111 we need to experiment more.

The same sail in one design size on J-Dream, one of the faster boats in the UK fleet. Photo: Stefan Blom.

We figure that the A2 will work in TWA 130-150 in light conditions up to 140-170 when the wind picks up. Hoefully we’re able to carry it up to 24 knots before changing down to a smaller kite. Will be exciting…

Asymmetric spinnaker A5 Supercote 130-90 aka “The Reacher”
Mould area: 103.5 m² | IRC area: 103.7 m² | ORCi area: 104.16 m²

This sail is a development of the A5 we used on the 109. It’s narrow and have more twist, but still relatively powerful. It should be a weapon at TWA 120-130 when we had a blast in the 109. The competition hated when the blue A5 came up. The difference with the 111 is that we’re faster and build more apparent wind plus the boat is weaker and we have to be careful with how much sail we put up. So we still have to figure out the limitations of this sail.

We also use the A5 when it blows >20-24 knots and we don’t dare to hoist the A2. Especially shorthanded this is a sail that get many hours. It’s surprisingly stable going low as long as we don’t push it.

Very similar to the design below?


Some shape and the open leach makes it effective on a reach. Accompanied with a staysail we should be able to get going at tighter angles.

The plan is to use the A5 in TWA 110-130 in light wind and maybe 120-150 when it’s increasing (depending on stability). The sail should be able to handle 30 knots as long as we don’t spend to much time broaching.

Code 0 Aramid Laminate T1 ZL06 aka “The Code”
Mould area: 67.29 m² | IRC area: 69.42 m² | ORCi area: 63.24 m²

We had some discussions with other J/111 owners before buying the boat. The usefulness of a code was a common theme, as the boat might suffer for not having a genoa on tight reaches. Also, it’s slippery boat that might take full advantage of the extra horse power in light wind.

Our new favorite sail on board? We only had a temporary luff cable – the real one will make the luff look better.

Looking at angles in light wind it became obvious that we needed to make the sail as flat as possible as we’re spending most of our time at AWA ~40. Making the mid girth 55% was our only concession to the rating rules as this works in both SRS and NorLYS. It costs 0.02 addition to our rating in Norway, but it was well worth it in this years Færderseilas when we at times sailed 30% faster than the wind. Amazing!

You know you have a fun sail when you’re awaken at 02:20 by the trimmer laughing out loud.

It’s easy to get overpowered even in 10 knots of wind.

Our guesses ar that the code will be used in TWA 80-110 in light air and maybe 100-120 in 10 knots. But we need more time on the water.

We have OK from J/boats to tack the code with the sprit extended one meter. It’s said to withstand 4 tons straight up fully extended so it should be ok even without a bob stay. We had the choice to extend the sprit partially, but then peeling to another sail would be painful. So now we fitted the furler, ProFurl NEX 2,5, to a soft ring around the sprit and a bobstay. Seems to work great so far.

Staysail Aramid Laminate T1 ZL06
After a few seasons we learned to handle the staysail on the J/109 and we had noticable effect adobe 8 knots of wind. The geometry on the J/111 is slightly different, so we have to try different options. Many teams choose to keep the jib above 16 knots, especially on a windward/leeward course, but we’re pretty sure we’ll manage to go faster with the staysail.

We’re guessing TWS 8-20 knots and TWA 130-160.



Thanks to Olof Stenlund who shot the photos on this wonderful afternoon in Långedrag. And too Pelle Fält who provided his Stormer as the perfect photo boat.


1 Comment

  1. Arnold Teeuwen Sep 3, 2015 Reply

    Hi, I have a friend with a J122 and I showed him Blur’s dodger/sprayhood solution, which he too likes very much.
    Do you have more information about that?
    Enjoying your site and facebook a lot. Keep it up!

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