12 meters and the America’s cup

The longevity of the 12 meter class is owed in no small part to  Lloyd’s scantling rules. They were strict and the boats were indeed inspected for compliance. These boats were overbuilt certainly by today’s standards and the result is that they are still here today.
In fact while I was building “Courageous” at Minneford’s Yacht yard one of my jobs was to co ordinate with Lloyds, as we were building the first ever aluminum 12 meter.


12 meter world championship day one

The first day of racing started almost on time, the wind at 6-8 knots at 11 am, building to 15-18 knots in the afternoon with relatively flat seas. The racing was tight, in some cases three boats crossing the line overlapped. Three races were completed, which always makes a race committee happy, creating a cushion in the event of bad weather.

Once more I am indebted to my good friend Jimmy Gubelmann for inviting me out to watch the racing.

How I Learned To Love Math

I don’t know about you, I struggled with math throughout school. I, like so many, could never see the necessity of knowing much math.

I loved sailing and wanted to know everything there was to know about boats. I worked building sails, building boats. I started lofting the designs; drawing them full size, This is the moment where any errors in the initial design appear. We would re-fair the lines. But for me, suddenly there was a reason for math. It all became so clear. I could define the “lines” of the boat with a formula. Math had a purpose, and therefore became a useful tool.


When I was lofting “Courageous” at Minneford’s on City Island; Phil Rhodes would come around the yard. He was retired from yacht design, but I never met anyone who had been involved in boats to let go just because time had moved on. Boats are a passion. It was clear that for Mr. Rhodes it was no different. We would chat; It must have become clear to him that I shared his passion. He started bringing work sheets with technical problems of various sorts for me to solve. The following week he would collect the “homework” and give me another set of problems to work on. I would receive the corrected sheets with comments. Something that continued until his death.

last snow of 2008

It is snowing. I am waiting to shovel, burning off the calories of the holidays.

It seems Bernie Madoff is the poster child of the unraveling of the economy. perhaps even a candidate for man of the year, he is the manifest icon of what happened.
On to the purpose of my post: Ted Turner at the end of the 1974 America’s Cup trials, In the photograph Ted has just been notified that “Mariner” the Britton Chance design has been eliminated from the trails. The syndicate tried everything even major surgery to the boat in the middle of the summer, all to no avail.The boat was just slow, finishing last in the consolation race, even losing to France 1, sailed by Baron Bic.  I sailed aboard the boat for that race.
During the winter of 1973-74  while I was building “Courageous” at Minneford’s in City Island; I took a class in tank testing at Stevens Institute in Hoboken taught by Peter Desaix. Peter, at the time was exuberant about the results produced by “Mariner” in the tank, claiming a breakthrough. He would later recant his claim realizing a flaw in the test data.
It was a bitter blow for all involved. The relationship between Ted and Brit soured,hence the poster circulated during the Southern Circuit. Ted felt betrayed by Dennis Connor, who had been his tactician, but recruited by “Courageous” as a starting helmsman. Brit Chance’s career was put in jeopardy; although he recovered with his design of the one tonner  “Resolute Salmon”.
These events probably contributed to Ted’s choice of “Courageoous” for 1977; a proven quantity. Not taking any chances. Surrounded by his “inner circle” those who stayed loyal to him.