They say you're never more than a mile or two from a J/24 but is there a cruising future for this 1970s race design, asks Rupert Holmes


The 1970s saw plenty of innovation on the USA’s north-eastern coasts. The wide-beam almost flush deck 24-footer Ragtime that Rod Johnston built in his garage over the winter of 1975/76 went on to win almost every race she entered the following summer.

That led to an agreement for Tillotson Pearson to build the boat on a production basis, while Rod’s brother Bob, who at the time was vice-president of marketing at Sunfish builder Alcort, joined in partnership to create J/Boats.

In the first 12 months they sold 250 J/24s and in all 5,500 have been built to date. Winning the world championships was a big deal when the class was in its heyday – the list of winners in the 1970s and 1980s reads like a sailing Hall of Fame.

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Prices of J/24s vary widely – earlier boats may change hands for £2,000-£5,000, especially if little recent updating of sails and deck hardware has taken place.

However, there are fewer relatively recent boats and these were generally built to a very high standard. If they have good sails and equipment, including a decent trailer, they can still fetch well over £20,000.

Despite the flush deck there’s reasonable sitting headroom and the wide beam means there’s more space than the external appearance suggests. The J/24 can therefore make an attractive coastal cruiser and club racer at an appealing price.


J/24 specification

LOA: 7.32m / 24ft 0in
LWL: 6.10m / 20ft 0in
Beam: 2.71m / 8ft 11in
Draught: 1.22m / 4ft 0in
Displacement: 1,406kg / 3,100lb
Ballast: 431kg / 950lb
Sail area: 24m2 / 261ft2
Current market value: £3,000-£25,000 / $4,000-$34,000