On Wednesday, June 20, 1979, while sailing in a qualifying race for the OSTAR (Observer Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, originally named after its first sponsor, the British Observer newspaper1), Jan Gougeon’s self-designed and built 31’ trimaran FLICKA was capsized by heavy seas in the North Atlantic. Jan survived on the overturned plywood/epoxy multihull for four days before he was rescued by a passing freighter. The following is the transcript of a phone call between Jan, his brothers Meade and Joel, as well as fellow multihull designer/sailor Mike Zuteck. Their discussion takes place on June 26, 1979, just hours after the freighter that rescued Jan from FLICKA and delivered him to dry land. Continue reading →
When Jan Gougeon built Strings in 2010 one of the most interesting features he included, at least from my point of view, was the float that goes on top of the mast. Due to its zeppelin-like shape, this is also called a blimp or a dirigible. The purpose of the float is to make the boat self-rescuing: if the boat tips, the float prevents it from going any farther than lying on its side. The mast and float are then used to right the boat. Jan developed this system when designing the Gougeon-32 back in the late ’80s, so he thought it would work for Strings. Continue reading →
Meade and Jan Gougeon were inducted into The National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) in October of 2015. Meade and Jan, along with their brother Joel, founded Gougeon Brothers, Inc. in 1969. They were selected because of their pioneering work in the use of epoxies for boat construction, and because each are accomplished sailors. Continue reading →
Strings, as unique as the man who designed it, continues to be a work in progress for us at GBI. In Jan Gougeon’s first year of sailing Strings, he noticed the boat felt sticky at times. He thought it might be the centerboards jibing too much and the solution might be locking them straight. The center boards work as jibing boards by having two high spots on each side of a centerboard head creating the pivot point to get the boards to change angle, or jibe. The actual pressure from the boat going through the water and wanting to slide sideways gets the boards to jibe. Continue reading →
A visionary, ingenious, a great innovator who could see beyond boundaries, on of a few people to really have changed the boatbuilding game in his lifelong quest for speed. This is how boatbuilders and designers, sailors and iceboaters recall Jan Gougeon. A natural engineer, Jan became an accomplished boat designer and builder who was always thinking about his next boat. His vibrant boyish enthusiasm lit up the room. Jan was a fierce competitor who shared tips and technology openly, offering astute and encouraging advice to novice and veteran sailors and builders alike. Continue reading →
Jan Gougeon’s monumental launch occurred in July of 2011, over a decade after the birth of the project. Jan passed away on December 18, 2012. We miss him. —ED
by Grace Ombry
Ten years ago in Epoxyworks 17, we published the photo below with the following caption: In the recess of the Gougeon boat shop loft, something unusual is taking shape out of plywood, foam, carbon fiber and epoxy. There is a minimum of plans and drawings. It evolves, piece by piece, mostly from its creator’s head. It’s not a trimaran. Not exactly a catamaran. Technical you probably wouldn’t call this a hull. It’s more of a fuselage. (There is an aircraft canopy involved.) For now, let’s call it Project J. We’ll keep an eye on this project in coming issues and see what develops.
Cover Photo: Top image – First GBI crew building GOLDEN DAZY in the early ’70s. Bottom image – The Gougeon Brothers, Inc. team in 2008.
2009 was the 40th Anniversary of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. 1969 marked a point in the Gougeon brothers’ careers when they applied all they had learned about wooden structures and epoxy technology to manufacture, for the first time, a product utilizing wood/epoxy composite construction. The full story of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. begins long before that date and is sure to continue well into the next 40 years.
There are those who still question the longevity of an epoxy composite structure. They state that the technology is still too new to know how it will hold up long-term. Some have said that epoxy composites fail in the tropic heat; other critics have warned of the hazards of wood and fresh water. However, I’ve recently visited several boats that are living testimony to the long-term reliability of epoxy composites. Of course, careful construction and good Continue reading →
TRADER, an Andrews 70 built by AKE Ltd. in Tallinn, Estonia, won the 1993 Chicago to Mackinac, and Port Huron to Mackinac offshore races on corrected time. In the 300 mile Chicago race July 17, racers experienced mostly reaching conditions. The first boat to finish was WINDQUEST, a Reichel/Pugh 70. Continue reading →