January 9th 2013. By Diane Byrne.

J-Class Yacht Rainbow Marries Tradition and Technology

Rainbow is a replica of the Americas Cup winner from 1934, but the new version incorporates aluminum construction and carbon spars and rigging. She also features a diesel-electric propulsion system.

The owner of Rainbow approached Dykstra & Partners in 2007 to recreate Burgess’ design. The firm has been involved with most of the Js. Like the original, Rainbow has a mahogany deckhouse, but this new version has an aluminum hull. She also has carbon fiber spars and rigging. To put her profile into perspective, her air draft is 176 feet.

Thanks to HJB and WhisperPower, Rainbow is the first full hybrid pleasure sailing yacht. Rainbow’s incredibly compact engine room features a battery bank and 50-kW genset (termed a Genverter by WhisperPower because of its generator and inverter functions). They also in turn are connected to a flywheel genset that acts as an electric motor.

Rainbow’s batteries can reportedly charge while she’s sailing. She loses 1½ knots of speed, but she also gains efficiency. Rainbow was further designed to race in battery-only mode for up to three hours. When racing, such as was needed this summer in the historic J Class Regattas in England, Rainbow carries a crew of 25 to 28. When chartering, a crew of just seven run her.


As you would expect of a proper J-Class yacht, Rainbow has a traditional mahogany-paneled interior. It’s easy to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, due to Art Deco details. The overall effect is simple without being simplistic. Dykstra & Partners collaborated with deVosdeVries design to outfit Rainbow accordingly.

When you consider that the original Js lacked interiors, and certainly luxury, Rainbow’s intimate relaxation rooms are all the more appreciated. The need to adhere to the original lines penned by Burgess meant a finite amount of space could be developed. Even with that, no one is made to feel slighted in the lounging areas.


Whether the owner is hosting family and friends, or charter guests are aboard, the formal dining area comes into play. Because Rainbow holds true to Burgess’ clean, working-deck design, you won’t find an alfresco dining table. Certainly, guests can enjoy the cockpit on pleasure cruises, but mealtimes are more suitable inside.


The owner of Rainbow wanted to have peace and quiet overnight in the master suite as well as all guest areas, so the battery bank that HJB and WhisperPower designed is quite helpful in this regard. The sleeping spaces are aft, with the master suite being fully aft. It also spans the nearly 21-foot beam.


Each of the two guest staterooms aboard Rainbow have Pullman berths. This allows a total of eight people to be accommodated on overnight voyages. The same raised and fielded mahogany joinerwork, nicely contrasted by white panels and overheads, that is found throughout the other relaxation areas adorns the bulkheads and custom furnishings.


Diane Byrne
Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the daily updated website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she also contributes to Yachts International, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association.