Mystic Seaport honors Hall of Fame Johnstone brothers

On Oct. 21, Mystic Seaport presented the brothers with its America and the Sea Award. Nine days later, they and seven other luminaries were inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Rod and Bob Johnstone independently arrived at the same conclusion 39 years ago before launching the perennially popular J/24: The wave of baby boomers who were having so much fun sailing Hobie, Sunfish and other beach boats were marrying and having children and primed for owning a performance family sailboat.

After a lifetime of building and racing boats, Bob, 82, who lives in Newport, R.I., and his brother Rod, 79, of Stonington, Conn., have taken home an armload of silver for their and J/Boats’ contributions to sailing.

On Oct. 21, Mystic Seaport presented the brothers with its America and the Sea Award. Nine days later, they and seven other luminaries were inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Rod Johnstone

Rod Johnstone

“Over the past 39 years the Johnstone family and their company have influenced American yachting and the sport of sailing in incomparable ways,” Mystic Seaport president Steve White said. “They have established a record of accomplishment that few will ever challenge, and they have instilled in countless Americans a passion for enjoying time on the water with family and good friends aboard good boats.”

The J/24 was the first of J/Boats’ 40 designs — altogether 14,000 J boat builds, including 5,700 J/24s. The Johnstones say their designs reflected the kind of boat they wanted for themselves through the seasons of their lives.

“I designed Ragtime for myself,” said Rod, J/Boats’ boat designer. “It was fun to take eight people out on the boat in 20 knots of wind with the main up. With other boats, if it was blowing 20 you wouldn’t go out.”

Bob Johnstone

Bob Johnstone

“Our strategy from day one was for our boats to be the best-performing boats of their kind out there, whether sail or power,” said Bob, who oversaw J/Boats’ business side.

J Boats still builds 13 models from 22-1/2 to 40 feet, and J boat racing continues to flourish. The J/70 class was the biggest at Key West Race Week from 2013 through 2016, Rod said. The scratch sheet for the 2016 event showed 54 entries in the class.

J/Boats’ management has been turned over to a second generation of Johnstones, but Rod still helps design the boats. Bob, foreseeing boomers moving from sail to power as they got older, is marketing a Down East line of luxury performance power cruisers that are economical and have the latest joystick and dynamic positioning technology.

The other Hall of Fame inductees were: three America’s Cup sailors — helmsman Ed Baird, helmsman and campaign manager Malin Burnham and skipper Bill Ficker; world cruisers Exy and Irving Johnson; Tom Perkins, owner and developer of the 21st century square rigger Maltese Falcon; and sailor, sailmaker and Olympic coach Dave Ullman.


Polaris Names CEO and CFO

Previously interim executives, Michael Speetzen was named the CEO and Bob Mack the CFO of the Minnesota-based powersports company.

Sanlorenzo Reports Q1 Financials

The Italian builder continues to gain market share and expects to debut five models at Cannes in September and launch three new lines in 2022.

New Hope for Killing Algae Blooms

Researchers are experimenting with injecting ozone nanobubbles into waterways that burst and cut off the algae’s food supply.

Mercury’s Impact on the Local Economy

A new study shows that the manufacturer has a more than $5 billion annual impact on the Fond du Lac, Wis., community.

Lippert Posts Record Q1

The quarter marked a “watershed moment” for the component supplier, as net sales hit $1 billion.

Rollick Reaches 100th OEM Customer Mark

Customers that use its Aimbase marketing technology represent 65 percent of U.S. marine unit sales.

Safe Harbor Adds Lauderdale Marine Center

The Florida superyacht facility was acquired in a deal worth $340 million.

Don’t Throttle Back Now

As pandemic restrictions ease, folks will be getting back to leisure activities that often compete with boating.