Team McLube Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:

The Publisher

Aug 7, 2008, 11:49 AM

Views: 50260

This story was initially posted on The JSA Blog, but has now been removed. Maybe it is a coincidence, but the story was removed following its inclusion in SCUTTLEBUTT 2655 - Thursday, August 7, 2008.

The numbers don't lie. The amount of Blue Jays on Long Island Sound have
slowly, but surely, been dwindling. There were a record low of 2 boats at
Blue Jay Champs this year. It makes one think: is it even worth holding Blue
Jay races next year?

We have heard our fair amount of complaints on this boat class but they have
definitely done more for sailing than they get credit for, particularly in
the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island (JSA) region. According to the
International Blue Jay Class Association, "The Blue Jay continues to be one
of the leading one-design, sloop-rigged sailboats in existence today." We're
not quite sure how accurate that statement is today, but it was definitely
designed to mimic the Lightning, which we all know to be a highly
competitive class. This boat has been the feeder for some strong sailors and
provides a firm base for every basic sailing skill such as spinnaker work,
working with a crew, and learning how to operate a heavy piece of boat.

Unfortunately for this class, the general consensus claims that the Pros
outweigh the Cons. So what do you guys think? Should we scrap Blue Jay races
altogether and let the Pixel progress, or should we keep this rich piece of
history sailing in our waters? Leave us comments, take the poll, or e-mail
JSA. We would really like to hear your reasoning on why the Blue Jay is so
awesome, or why it belongs in a bonfire. --

*At the 2008 Pixel/Blue Jay Championship, hosted by Noroton Yacht Club
(Darien, CT) on August 1 - 2, there were 23 Pixels and 2 Blue Jays.

The Publisher

Aug 7, 2008, 11:50 AM

Views: 50254
Re: [The Publisher] THE BLUE JAY: A DYING CLASS?

From William Burtis:
The Blue Jay Class management is responsible for the demise of the class in Long Island Sound, where it previously flourished for many years as the ideal trainer. When the boats were being built by Don McNair back in the '70s they were well built using a 5lb/sq.ft. foam core. The boats were structurally sound and a very good value for parents to buy for their kids, with high resale values when the kids moved up to the next level boat.

When Don shut down his building operation and started his charter business, Saybrook Yacht Yard took over the building of the Blue Jay using McNair's tooling. Soon after, they began using 2lb/sq.ft. foam for the core in the hulls and decks (this is not a structural foam, it is commonly used as floral foam). The boats immediately began falling apart in their first season ( I actually watched a 80 lb girl just fall thru the foredeck on a new boat!!). The boats were junk, had no resale value, and the Class Association sat on their hands and did nothing. All they had to do was instate a scantling regulation to require builders to use a minimum density foam and glass composite, yet nothing was done.

If the Blue Jay Class association had prevented these sub-standard boats from being built (for many years, by the way) their would have been no real need to seek out another training boat. Also, if the class had seized the moment at the time the JSA of LIS was looking to replace the Fireball with another class and had designed a larger sailplan with a modern single spreader rig that would drop into the standard Blue Jay for an advanced, high powered Junior boat the class would still be thriving and be the best value for a parent to buy for their kids after they were too old for the Opti. They could start out with the standard rig, then on to the high power rig when they thought they could handle it. The flat bottom hull with a big rig would plane very quickly and be allot of fun to sail. Too bad...


Aug 8, 2008, 11:25 AM

Views: 50143
Re: [The Publisher] THE BLUE JAY: A DYING CLASS?

I believe the loss of the Blue Jay will have a long term negative impact on the Jr. Sailors of Long Island Sound. I know she is not in keeping with the move towards more performance oriented training boats, but she did teach many generations of Long Island Sound sailors one thing that has proven valuable throughout my life. That is the proper care and maintenance of a sailing vessel. The age of the average Blue Jay sailor is such a formative time and this lesson may be lost on the new Pixels. I have seen a Pixel and although I can't comment on the sailing characteristics, I can say one thing, she is not pretty. Owning a Blue Jay in my Jr. sailing days taught me how to actually care for a boat that required maintenance. It provided me with a sense of responsibility that I do not think will come with the Blue Jay's replacement. I know my parents were their proudest when we came home from the awards ceremony with the Care and Maintenance awards versus the sailing trophies. I know they realized that a boat like a Blue Jay was teaching us some valuable lessons in life. We would spend hours taking care of the wood. Hours repainting the hull every season. We learned to use Marine Tex and learned the value of wet sanding. We were not lucky enough to have a boat that was even close to new but we did learn to make her fast, and just as important, to make her look good. Boat preparation can be one of the most important facets of a successful sailing career and the Blue Jay, especially the older ones, forced young men and women to learn these lessons. As someone who was looking forward to teaching his own children the joys of a Blue jay, I am saddened by their loss.

ps. how many people in this world don't know how to change a tire, I think there is a parallel.

Sean Joyce
Blue Jay sailor in the 80's
#4242 Etchells BJ is sitting in the garage hoping to be used for the next generation (I guess not)


Jul 10, 2015, 4:49 AM

Views: 44795
Re: [The Publisher] THE BLUE JAY: A DYING CLASS?

Fast forward to 2015.. The class is alive and kicking at Niantic Bay Yacht Club. 6-8 Boats with kid crews were on the line for the 4th of July Series. Dave Dickerson recently bought a new boat from a new and improved deck mold from Allen Boat Co. He’s also been active in refurbishing the club’s boats, with several in great shape. The Frostbite Series has been strong at NBYC for years and gets 6-10 boats on the line from October-November. This series is open to all comers. Please write back with the status of your club’s fleet. Hoping to revitalize the organization.


Jul 10, 2015, 4:55 AM

Views: 44794
Re: [The Publisher] THE BLUE JAY: A DYING CLASS?

BTW Mr. Burtis, my BJ, built by Saybrook Yacht Yard, is still going strong after about 30 years. Same goes with most of the fleet at NBYC. The test of time and abuse has proven they are not junk now and never were. Basic maintenance and care required of course.


Aug 17, 2015, 7:03 AM

Views: 44341

I gew up sailing Blue Jays on Barnegat Bay and we had 20 - 30 of them in the late 80's and early 90's at the local level. I have since moved on to Lightnings, which I still sail today. Several of us Blue Jay alums in the Barnegat Bay area are looking for a double hander for our Optis to move into (with the intent to get them out of the Opti by age 11 or 12). I would love to re-establish a Blue Jay fleet, but there is a lot of resistance due to the fact that the class seems to have been basically abandoned. We demo-ed some Feva R/S boat as a potential alternative, but after sailing one I have some reservations that it may be a bit too technical and tippy for a training boat. I think there would be some serious consideration given to re-establishing a Blue Jay fleet on Barnegat Bay. One sticking point, however, could be the cost of a new boat, which I heard that Allen charges something like $9K.

Mark Vian

Aug 25, 2015, 4:02 PM

Views: 44184

I've just taken possession of a wooden BJ, and I plan to make it whole over the winter (it's in pretty good shape all original sails and rigging).

The hull number is 2755. Is there a way to find out where and when it was built?


Aug 31, 2017, 9:40 PM

Views: 25222

The BJ is a dying class because it is an older design. I bought one recently hull 7202. I remember using them in the 1970s. I have a Sunfish and wanted more boat. I must say that the BJ has it's good and bad points. The design is sound. The mast is a pain in the ass. The cockpit is cluttered and requires constant moving for a 2 person crew. The sails, particularly the Jib is puny hence with is not a fast boat. It is about as fast as my Sunfish.

What am I gonna do? I can't change the design of the hull or it's weight but I am ordering a much larger jib (Genoa) for more sail. I *think* this will increase the speed a bit and certainly make things more exciting in heavy wind. ....I will report back when I get and test the new sail. If it works it could mean new life for the BJ as a recreational sailboat vs the 420 and other similar sized boats. Cool


Oct 8, 2017, 3:39 PM

Views: 24328

After sailing the BJ 6 times in winds from 2-15 mph, I have decided not to obtain a larger jib. This boat IS what is IS. A trainer for teens and adults. The most annoying thing is the HUGE centerboard housing. Teens can hop over this monstrosity easily. I can't lol I am selling the BJ and getting a Vanguard 15. It's faster and a bit easier to move around on.


Oct 11, 2017, 11:02 AM

Views: 24264

Yes. Tom Allen does charge too much for a Blue Jay. He makes great boats though, and the new deck on Dave Dickerson's boat is beautiful.
So, the answer is to fix up an old boat. I restored 4845 recently, and I know of a few more ready to be redone by a person willing to devote some time and restoration money.
The frostbite fleet at NBYC could use some more boats. We are currently racing them as single handed or double handed. In light air single handed has the weight advantage. In heavier air its best to have a light weight crew to manage the jib to make efficient tacks. Fall breezes are often from the Northwest and are shifty. Fast tacks make the difference in climbing the ladder to windward.
Check out the Blue Jay Sailboat Class page I made on Facebook


Oct 13, 2017, 5:10 PM

Views: 24180

Wanted: 4 glass blue jays, with tanks, for a camp sailing program.


Nov 19, 2017, 2:22 AM

Views: 23410
Re: [TwiceRejected] THE BLUE JAY: A DYING CLASS?

Mine is a 2000 in very good condition. Email me:

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