A sleek one-design keelboat with deep Marblehead roots and a highly competitive racing class.

Ragtime is the J boat that started it all in 1975 when Rod Johnstone started hull #1 as a homebuilt boat project in his Connecticut garage.  In 1977 Everett Pearson, co-founder of Pearson Yachts, arranged with Johnstone for a production version of the design, designated the J/24, which was first built in Fall River, MA.  Today the J/24 is built in Argentina and Italy in addition to the U.S.  More than 50,000 people sail more than 5,500 boats in nearly 40 countries with over 150 active fleets.  A stable sailboat for families, the J/24 has also been the competitive launch pad for the careers of numerous America’s Cup professionals. 

The world-wide acceptance of J/24 design, the strong one-design rules and the strength of the International J/24 Class Association have led to the J/24 to be selected as the platform for the  International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) Nation’s Cup, the ISAF Women’s World Match Racing Championship, the Rolex Women’s International Keelboat Championship, and US Sailing’s St. Francis International Masters Championship (aged 55+).  Considered by many as the gold standard for modern one-design keelboats round the world, it’s also the world’s most popular as measured by hulls produced.

Age 8 to 80, no matter your style—racing, day sailing, or cruising—the J/24’s flared topsides make her dry on deck. Her ‘weekender’ cabin makes it possible to stay warm on cold days, and she can be sailed easily by one person with only the mainsail. J/24s are usually raced with a crew of five, but class rules require three crew. While some of the world’s best J/24 sailors have the latest version J/24, a well-prepared 1977 model, built to the same shape and weight with rigid end-grained balsa core construction, can still win sailing the class world championship even after thousands of miles of trailering. It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to acquire a used boat and gear due to the large number of boats produced. The U.S. has 136 fleets alone which offer a lot of race competition, which makes the J/24 a popular boat for beginners and experienced sailors alike.

Locally, J/24 racing takes place in Marblehead and in Beverly where spinnakers are allowed. The current fleet includes: Doreen, Firefly, Grace Under Fire, Hot Rod, Intensity, Sheldon J., Widespread Panic, and Xingu.

What do you think of this popular sloop-rigged fiberglass keelboat?  To see Karen Zieff’s Firefly, click here. To see all J/24s, simply type J/24 in the Harbor Directory search bar.