I thought of making a post about the JPK 1180, the new cruiser racer that will certainly follow the success story of its smaller brother, the JPK 1080, that is winning all major IRC races, but I believe that JPK deserves more. This small shipyard deserves to be much more well known due to the excellency of their boats, not only pointed to racing but also with a line specifically designed for cruising.
JPK stands for Jean Pierre Kelbert, the owner of the shipyard, and on his time a champion windsurfer (European champion in 1988 and 1999). He started to design and build windsurfer boards till he met a Naval Architect that became a friend, Jacques Valer that is going to design all JPK and become also an important part of this success story.
In 2002 Jacques Valer design the JPK 9.6, Jean Pierre built it and the racing results started to appear proving and validating the design and built quality. And not only on inshore regatas but also on offshore races and Transats, namely the Transquadra.
The racing success story was continued with other boats, the 11.10 ( 2005) the 998 (2008), the 10.10 (2011), the 10.80 (2014) and this year with the 1180. These boats won everything that was to be won in all types of races, from Transats to around the cans, Fastnet, Middle Sea race and Sydney Hobart where they won its class on the two last years (1080).
When I was looking for a boat, around 2006 I visited JPK shipyard and had a nice talk with Jean Pierre. I was interested in seeing if the JPK 11.10 had the storage I needed for sailing and living on the boat for about six months in the year. I had no doubts that boat would suit very well my sailing needs, storage was the issue.
|New JPK 1180|
I was impressed with everything on the shipyard, the quality and the sailing knowledge of Jean Pierre that understood very well my needs while a solo sailor and was making very valid suggestions regarding possible boat modifications. No wonder, Jean Pierre after the windsurf had become a top sailboat sailor, winning many regattas, the Transquadra (in duo) and even the Sydney Hobart.
Unfortunately the boat had not the required storage and the access to the central cockpit locker was difficult through a relatively small hatch.
I don't know if this small talk with a cruiser that wanted a fast boat, one more versatile than Pogo, but well adapted to solo sailing, had any influence on his decision to build a cruising line but the fact is that some years later the boat I wanted from JPK was on the water, the JPK 38. Unfortunately it was too late for me but it is probably still my favorite boat, as a personal one.
The JPK 38 was followed some years later (2016) by the JPK 45, pretty much the perfect fast voyage boat, if that is the size that suits a given sailor. The quality of the boats have been recognized not only on the racing field but by the specialized media that elected the 1080 as the European Yacht of the Year on its category.
This year the JPK 45 was nominated for the contest and I would not be surprised if he won it. It was already elected boat of the year by the french magazine Voile, as it was before the 38.
A word about the building, that you can see on the movie below (last one): the boats are built the same way many racing boats are, a sandwich hull using vacuum infusion and a 3D process that allows the structure of the hull to be infused with it, forming a unique piece.
The JPK that started to build just some boats a year, are now building over 20 boats a year and not more because they have not more building capacity, having a waiting list of more than a year and a half. Some of those waiting for boats are very good sailing teams and the news is that they are not only French but also many British.
Not surprisingly since a Russian team won the Middle Sea Race with one. JPK has become a brand with international customers and I bet it will not take long to have to change to bigger installations.
Or maybe not since Jean Pierre does not seem the type of guy that is much worried about making a fortune. He is now preparing himself to sail the second part of the Transquadra, the French Transat for amateurs that he won on the last edition, of course, sailing one of his boats (beating a new SF 3600).
More information about the cruising line (38 and 45) here: