Designed by Rod Johnstone and introduced in 1985, the J40 set the standard for fast cruisers. The J40 had a production run roughly until 1995 when it was updated as the J42. There are a couple of keel options, and some different wrinkles to the main cabin layout affecting settee, table and nav station, but all owners are treated to a delightfully easy to sail performance cruiser, with a surprising level of comfort below-decks.
Though the J42 was based on the same hull mold, enhancements included a 27″ taller mildly fractional mast for a larger main (headsails, spinnakers stayed the same), a “porch” added to the back of the hull mold for storage and an after-deck behind the helmsman, and updates to the rudder and keel. The engine was moved back under the companionway to open up the galley in the last few J40s and carried forward in the J42, but requires the rudder to be removed for pulling the prop shaft. Though the weight is less centered, moving the motor back opened up the interior a bit. The beloved bulkhead table was replaced with a more conventional setup. J/Boats experimented with the last few J40’s and there are variations of J42 interior/engine placement prior to the introduction of the follow-on ’42 version.
The J42 continued as a very popular boat in both cruising and ocean racing circles for more than a decade of production after it was introduced. Though the J40-J42 does not sport the latest 2014 racing hull-form, a boat that just sails well is timeless.