Eight bells: Boat builder dies at age 67


After decades of building boats, Jan Clover Gougeon has died at the age of 67 on Dec. 18 in Bay City, Mich.

In 1969, he founded Gougeon Brothers, Inc. with his brothers Meade and Joel. They began building boats and iceboats, but the company now formulates and manufactures West System and Pro-Set epoxies for boat construction and repair.

At age 14 Gougeon 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. This year he launched his groundbreaking 40-foot 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.

This past July he raced Strings in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinaw. In 1980 during qualification trials for the OSTAR challenge, Gougeon’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 Gougeon designed, Splinter, was self-rescuing, as was every boat he’s designed since.

A celebration of Gougeon’s life will be held at noon, Thursday Dec. 27 at the Saginaw Bay Yacht Club in Essexville, Mich. A burial at sea will take place privately at a future date.

By Ocean Navigator