If you want to get noticed slicing through the waves at 40+ knots on the Riviera, then consider a J. Craft Torpedo, a super-fast runabout that stands out from the rest not only for its chic retro styling but also because, to date, only 27 have been made. That is just over one per annum since the company was founded in Sweden in the late 1990s. The J Craft therefore is eye-catching, very exclusive, and great fun judging by the joy on the faces of three of those 27 owners I spent a day with around Saint Tropez as they put their boats through their paces.
Hand-built in Viking country on the Swedish island of Gotland, this 42-foot Cabrio Cruiser has the look of a classic but is powered by the cutting-edge Volvo IPS pod drive system giving it a top speed of 47 knots, which means you can zip from Saint Tropez to Club 55 on Pampelonne Beach for lunch in under 30 minutes. The boat in fact has a range of 350 nautical miles so you can reach Sardinia from Saint Tropez in seven hours. Aside from being a fast runabout, the Torpedo also serves as a superyacht tender or chase boat.
The J Craft Torpedo has a top speed of 46 knots, what means just 30 minutes from St Tropez to Club 55.
The very first J Craft, designed by founder Bjorn Jansson and made in 1999, was a 38-foot Cabrio Cruiser that took a whole year to build. Named Polaris, it was delivered to King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and to date, it is often spotted cruising in the Mediterranean during the summer. The sleek 1950s retro-vintage styling of the boat with its strong fibreglass hull and sustainably sourced mahogany veneer attracted the attention of hedge-fund manager Radenko Milakovich and his wife Kristina in 2007, but they wanted to make a few changes including lengthening it to its present-day 42 feet and installing modern state-of-the-art technology, including the Volvo Penta IPS pods because joystick control makes boat handling simpler and gives the Torpedo its exceptional manoeuvrability.
After much discussion Milakovich bought not only the boat, but the company as well in 2008 with its boatyard of six master craftsmen, all descended from Viking fishermen who knew a thing or two about building boats for Nordic waters. It takes 8,000 hours to build by hand the 42-foot Torpedo that was introduced that year, hence the small numbers produced. However, Milakovich is scaling production up from one to three Torpedos by the end of 2022. This is not a boat designed for mass production: the couple’s aim as new custodians is to keep the original spirit of J Craft alive.
The luxurious retro look of the J Craft Torpedo is accentuated by the mahogany veneer on the cockpit.
With that belief, they also restore and upgrade the technology on vintage J Craft cruisers that, albeit rarely, come on the market, drawing new owners into this exclusive community the Milakovich has created.
The Torpedos are equipped with the latest generation Volvo Penta IPS engines (intelligent propulsion system) that steer the boat rather than using rudders. The Volvo Penta IPS 500, 600- R, or 650-RS engines give the Torpedos their speed, precise handling and range. They have regularly undertaken long trips, in the South China Sea from Hong Kong to Hainan, in the Baltic Sea between Gotland and Stockholm, and in the Med where they frequently cruise from St. Tropez to Ibiza or Sardinia and back.
The open cockpit is both luxurious and comfortable for day cruises taking up to 10 people.
The open cockpit with its glossy woodwork and two luxuriously appointed sundecks is designed to comfortably accommodate up to 10 adults and a captain for day cruises. The spacious cabin, when needed, sleeps up to four guests in comfort. With its elegant timeless lines, the Torpedo is the embodiment of the dolce vita lifestyle.
Words: Francesca Fearon