I know this will seem a little silly to you folks who have been sailing your J/28's for years, but this past Sunday was my first under sail in the beast. I bought my J/28 near the end of last summer, had it trucked from Oriental, NC, up to Maine, where it wintered over--and, yes, it's a long winter here. "Ruffian" went in the water about three weeks ago, and I've been working to get it all together before casting off. By this past weekend, it was ready.
We sailed all afternoon in 15 kts, gusting 20+, and had a ball. Nearly everything worked and the boat sailed very nicely, indeed. (I had managed to install the cunningham tackle backwards, so it was inoperative for the duration. Duh.)
After fighting the wind for a while, we brought in the genoa (it appears to be about 125%), and the boat did beautifully on main alone--no weather helm. It balanced on all points of sail except did try to round up when hit by gusts under just main, but I don't think I can complain about that. I thought it was reasonably stiff for a 28' boat and had plenty of opportunity to push it hard to find out. All in all, it was a good, exhilarating trial.
One problem I had from inexperience with J boats that have wheel steering was getting the mainsheet hung up in the binnacle. One time on a jibe, I grabbed the mainsheet high, close to the boom, to set the sail across, and the lower part of it, temporarily slack, got tangled up on the throttle. Try that in a good breeze! So, I have a ways to go on the learning curve, but it shouldn't take too long.
More sails to follow soon. Tomorrow, it's back down to Rockland (which is 1.3 hours from home) for more work on projects.