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A Brief History of the Canterbury J Class Model Yacht

Sailing at the Christchurch Model Yacht Club [CMYC] in 1996-1997 there was a small classic J Class model yacht named RANGER with a length of 1.2 metres and this was owned by Dave Heanly. This yacht was J1 which was eventually purchased from Dave and is now on display in the CMYC club rooms at Hagley Park.

Ranger J1
Ranger J1

A group of CMYC members decided the J Class yacht would be ideal for easy fully rigged transport and sailing in weedy conditions at Lake Victoria.

The hull of number J1 was purchased from Model Boats and the sail plan designed by Hugh Hobden. An approach was made to purchase more hulls. Euan Sargison negotiated and another 9 hulls were purchased and sold very quickly.

The J Class Squadron was formed 2 Sep 1997. Two more hulls appeared making the total at this time twelve.

More hulls were in demand and the place that originally sold the hulls advised that the mould had been lost. After investigating it was found that the original hulls supplied had been taken from a Timaru J Class yacht.

It was decided to make a Canterbury mould with adjustments. The hull was deepened by 16mm and the lead reduced by 16mm and the trim weight put inside the hull. The J Class squadron purchased the new mould with a loan from Peter Vincent and the loan was repaid from hull sales. Number J13 was the first hull

To promote the sailing class three trophies were donated by Peter Vincent.

More Canterbury J Class historical information can be found HERE

Nine of the original Canterbury Js with their owners

The basic philosophy was to have an easily sailed and economically built  RC yacht’ based on a one design principles to provide good resale value, and with racing dependent more on the skipper rather than designer/builder skill.These objects have been attained and the Class has attracted many first time sailors, mostly from the retired ranks who share the common creed, “it sure beats gardening!”

The boat can be transported easily in the average car or station wagon fully rigged. Many boats have features of the original Canterbury J Class.

The “Wednesday Windlers” can muster fleets of 30 plus for their around-the-lake sailing on Lake Victoria. Why not visit the lake on a Wednesday? Members turn out, except in the most atrocious weather, and are pleased to “turn over the controls” to any interested spectator.


377 hulls [December 2022] have been purchased and they are to be found in all areas of New Zealand and as far afield as the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK. It is a one-design yacht and all hull shells, keels and trim weights are made from moulds officially approved by the Canterbury J Association with an identification number moulded into the hull.

There are rules that, prohibit exotic materials, define a fixed minimum weight, strictly control dimensions in the three sizes of sail rigs.

The yacht can be bought as a kit or in separate pieces and assembled as the budget allows. This also allows members handy at making small components to make many of the parts and keep the price down. All parts are available: hulls white polyester, keels, brass fittings, and computer-generated sails, winches and radio gear. If you cannot find the part you want we will find it or we can make it at reasonable costs.

There is also an active and increasing North Island fleet sailing out of the Tauranga Radio Sailing Club  Gilmour Lake  Waihi , [links to external sites], Palmerston North and Auckland