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News: JB Composites Again Takes up Construction Work of Famous J Boats

March 29, 2010 by Superyacht News
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The decision by the Commercial Court in France’s Roche-sur-Yon on 3rd March 2010 signified the end of J Europe and confirmed the resumption of the emblematic J brand by a triumvirate of share holders gathered together under the JB Composites denomination. The assets of the J Europe yard, which were referred to in a safeguard procedure on 19th November 2009 and part of a receivership plan on 20th January 2010, have just been bought back by the aforementioned shareholders. Indeed alongside local man Yves Roucher, creator of Kirié and Alubat, as well as Holding Fast SAS, Didier Le Moal, the man who back in 1994 launched the capital J brand in France, has taken on the role of Managing Director. His aim is to gently but determinedly go about restoring the prestige of a yard which, until 2008, he helmed with great success. A confirmed racer and former 470 crew with French medal winner Christine Briand, this 50 year old from La Rochelle, trained in the marine industry at Gibert Marine, introduced, built and distributed the famous J 92 in France. The saga of the J Lances, the yard’s promotional boat, was a precursor to the impressive growth of a range which was tremendously successful amongst those who relish the thrill of racing.

Didier le Moal gets down to business…

“I’m starting up again without a sense of revenge, at the head of a young, motivated team” explains Le Moal placidly. This is a task of some seriousness, in a difficult economic climate. “I have a workshop which is virtually empty, but with a list of orders which need to be honoured urgently.” As such Le Moal has gone straight back into his workshops in Olonne-sur-Mer and is now endeavouring, from morning to evening, or longer, to re-establish the ‘process’ of manufacture and quality which, only a short time ago, made the J range’s reputation. “Some new orders are being added to those we have to honour in our markets” continues Le Moal. “Our dealer network and clientele are watching us very closely. We’re facing things head on so as to regain our economic dynamism and productivity. Nothing has been developed here since 2008, and we can move forward on all levels whilst controlling our productivity costs. The plan of action on an economic scale will involve leaving the costly premises in Château-d’Olonne after the summer. However, the Js will remains in Les Sables, which is fantastic news for 34 of the original 41 employees kept on within the company prior to receivership.

A balanced range in phase with the expectations of the market

“We’re starting out with a limited team and without the sense that peril is imminent” explains Le Moal. “Our already well established range will continue to develop and we’ll be able to move back into the various markets thanks to a sense of competitiveness that we’re confident we will quickly become synonymous with again. For the moment we’re going to concentrate on delivering one J 97 a week (the latest of the range) whilst building all our other models at one time. In this way the J 80, J 92S, J 100, J 109, J 122 and J 133 will evolve thanks to the experience and ingenuity of Le Moal and his team. Three hundred and seventy J 109s, multiple winners of the Spi Ouest France, have already been built under the leadership of Le Moal. Indeed, at this hugely popular sailing event held in Brittany over Easter Weekend, nearly a third of the boats participating in 2010… will be a J!

Whatever happens, a J will remain a J!

Historical reminder

The history of the J boats is a classic tale, a true American success story. Indeed, with 20,000 dollars in his pocket, Rod and his brother Bob Johnstone launched a fast sailboat from the family garage back in 1977. The J 24 measured 24 foot and has gone on to become the most widely distributed and most popular keelboat in the world. In the commercial ‘racer/cruiser’ sector, J Boats established themselves through their performance quality and ease of use, which meant that they were accessible to the whole family.

To date, the construction of J Boats has been entrusted to two yards worldwide: Pearson Composites in the USA, the Johnstone’s historical constructor, and J B Composites in Olonne-sur-Mer in France’s Vendée region. 400 Js are launched onto the planet’s oceans each year. The models manufactured jointly by the two builders are the 80, 105, 109 and 133, to which we add the 92S, J122 and the brand new J 97 built at JB Composites. The 80 and 105 are the range’s spearhead one-designs. The 105, the first model equipped with a bowsprit, has been reproduced over 600 times since its launch in 1991.

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