Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jan Gougeon; over the bar

Yesterday amateur boat builders lost friend even though most of us had never personally met the man.  For wood butchers with poor joinery skills (like your diarist) the gap filling properties of thickened West System epoxy, dispensed via easy to use metered pumps, played a huge part in our ability to restore old boats and build (in my case "slap together") new boats that not only didn't leak but miraculously stayed intact long enough to not only get around the race course but also win an occasional race.  If you've ever used West System epoxy products you might want to pause for a moment of silence.  What follows was posted in today's Scuttlebutt.  RIP Jan Gougeon.  Your company's products and excellent tech support made countless home-built boats possible.

Jan Clover Gougeon, of Bay City, Michigan, died Tuesday, December 18, 2012
in Ann Arbor, Michigan at age 67.

In 1969, Jan founded Gougeon Brothers, Inc. with his brothers Meade and
Joel. The company began building boats and iceboats, and found great
success in formulating, manufacturing and marketing WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET
epoxies for boat construction and repair.

At age 14 Jan began building boats as an apprentice to master boatbuilder
Victor Carpenter, and went on to become an accomplished multihull designer
and builder. Over the course of his lifetime he designed Wee Three, Flicka,
Splinter, Ollie and Pocket Rocket. In 2012 he launched his groundbreaking
40' multihull, Strings. He was also a key builder on the multihulls Adagio,
Rogue Wave, Slingshot and Adrenalin, as well as several monohulls including
the 1975 Canada's Cup winner, Golden Dazy.

Racing iceboats and multihull sailboats were Jan's passions, and he
particularly loved sailing solo. His first sailboat race was in 1955 at age
10, and he competed in Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinaw aboard the newly
launched Strings in July, 2012. In 1980 during qualification trials for the
OSTAR challenge, Jan's trimaran Flicka capsized in the Atlantic Ocean. He
spent four long days floating in Flicka's disabled hull before he was
rescued by a passing freighter. The next boat Jan designed, Splinter, was
self-rescuing, as was every boat he's designed since.

Jan placed first in the single-handed Port Huron to Mackinac race in 1981,
1982 and 1983 aboard Splinter. Racing his trimaran Ollie, he won the
singlehanded Supermac in 1987 and the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society
Peter Fisher Memorial Award in 1989. He won the DN Iceboat World Gold Cup
Championships four times, the North American DN Iceboat Championship eight
times, and won the DN Great Cup of Siberia Race in Russia in 1989. He
competed annually in the Bayview Yacht Club's Port Huron to Mackinac Race,
the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinaw and the 300-mile Florida
Everglades Challenge.

Burial at sea will take place privately with the family at a future date.

TRIBUTE: "There is no group of sailors that compares to iceboaters and Jan
Gougeon was one of the reasons why," shared Eric Lind of Suttons Bay, MI.
"He had no secrets as he readily shared his vast knowledge and experience
with everyone. This interview with Jan by Ron Sherry back in '95 - - ends with a story that is
classic Jan Gougeon."

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