Rovings April/May Issue 142

Professional BoatBuilder magazine No. 142
Compiled by Dan Spurr

Composite panelsCompetition Composites

When CCI partners Dave Brady and Phil Locker decided to build an 18′ (5.5m) i550 sportboat designed for construction in ¼″ (6mm) plywood, they tested composite panels as possible substitutes.

Parts and Panels

Competition Composites (CCI), a small six-year-old company in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, two years ago broke the $1 million mark in sales, largely by making parts for boatbuilders, but also for the military and telecommunications sectors. Owners Dave Brady and Phil Locker are two guys who might say that losing their jobs was the best thing that ever happened to them. Locker actually took a buyout from Nortel Networks (Toronto), but Brady was laid off from a management job at the software firm Cognos (Ottawa). Locker had already started Phil’s Foils in 2002, making composite foils for small sailboats. Brady joined him in 2007, and the two incorporated as Competition Composites.

Today the company fabricates rudders, spars, tubes, tillers, and other boat parts, working with carbon fiber, fiberglass, and various core materials—wood and foam. A typical wood-cored rudder begins with a strip-planked/epoxy blank. Any through-holes are filled with thickened epoxy; then the blank is shaped by a CNC milling machine, sheathed with fiberglass/Kevlar/carbon fiber as specified, and vacuum-bagged. Once cured, the rudder is coated with epoxy, sanded, primed, wet-sanded, and painted. Parts that don’t stay in the water are painted with Imron two-part polyurethane; parts that remain submerged for lengthy periods are coated with Awlgrip 545 epoxy primer. CCI’s website has a long list of one-design sailboats for which rudders are readily available. Custom work is another staple; recent jobs included rudders for an Empacher 70 (21.3m) and an Eggemoggin 47 (14.3m) under construction at Brooklin Boat Yard, in Brooklin, Maine; and foils for a Gunboat 55 (16.8m) being built at Gunboat’s new facility in Wanchese, North Carolina.

Hand-pumped hydraulic ramCompetition Composites

The hand-pumped hydraulic ram pushes on the gelcoat side of a panel.

Measuring potential oilcanning of the hull.Competition Composites

The first test employed a square on the back side of the panel to measure the potential oilcanning of the hull.

Recently we heard from Locker, who described an interesting project. Though Locker and Brady are avid sailors, members of the Nepean Sailing Club in Ottawa, and have made parts for numerous builders, they’d never built a complete boat of their own. Looking for a high-performance boat they could race, they decided to build the popular 18′ (5.5m) i550 sportboat, designed to be built of ¼″ (6mm) plywood and sheathed with 10-oz (339-g/m2) fiberglass cloth. As composite specialists, they investigated building the boat with ¼″ Divinycell H80 foam core, but worried that it might be too thin to “match the mechanical properties of plywood without resorting to prohibitively heavy fiberglass skins,” Locker wrote. “Remember that in sandwich cored construction, stiffness of the panel goes up with the cube of the distance between skins.”

To check their desired panels against the specified plywood, Locker and Brady made up four 16″ (406mm) square panels. One was plywood, and the other three, which they guessed would rival the plywood panel, were perforated and infused Divinycell H80 between fiberglass skins. Each panel was set up as a supported beam, supported on all four sides as a flat plate, and then pushed in the center by the shop’s hand-pumped hydraulic ram. The test was stopped when a small amount of deflection was measured.

They tested for impact resistance by dropping a 5-lb (2.3-kg) steel rod through a tube (to keep it vertically aligned) onto the panel. Result: the plywood panel showed the most damage; the foam panels showed little effect. And for panel stiffness, the men opted for the ¼″ Divinycell panel with 12-oz biaxial E-glass, ¾-oz mat, and gelcoat on one side, and 17-oz biaxial E-glass on the other.

Locker and Brady contracted naval architect Eric Sponberg to design the carbon mast and beam for the i550, and he offered six different laminate schedules. Two tubes of each were made up and placed in a bending jig and bent until they failed. Of the laminates Locker wrote, “These were fastened into our bending jig and bent until failure, while noting deflection versus load (using the same load cell as used in the test panels described earlier). These numbers were then sent to Eric, and that’s when it became apparent that while shop-built test equipment can work very well for comparative testing, it is a different matter to try to use it for determining absolute numbers. The numbers that Eric derived for Young’s modulus and tensile modulus were considerably lower than the specifications sheet data. We suspected compliance in the test jig to be the culprit, and we made some adjustments to re-test one of the tubes, only to have even lower numbers as the result! Without very stable and accurate test equipment, shop testing is only comparative.”

The two men decided to build the smaller 8′ (2.4m) stitch-and-glue MiniMax Sea Flea hydroplane first, before taking on the more-demanding i550. Eventually both boats were successfully completed.

Meanwhile, CCI continues to grow. A major contract was producing flat panels for a U.S. military contractor supplying portable shelter walls. Other nonmarine jobs have included components for Canadian armored military vehicles and structures for housing Honeywell International telecommunications equipment.

Competition Composites, Inc., 168 Wescar Lane, Unit #3, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, tel. 613–599–69561, website

Jan C. Gougeon: 1945–2012

Jan Gougeon and the Pocket Rocket.Hugh Horton (left), Courtesy Gougeon Brothers (right)

Left—Jan designed the unusual G32 catamaran to be self-righting. He raced his personal G32, Pocket Rocket, on the Great Lakes. The youngest of the three Gougeon boatbuilding brothers died of respiratory failure last December in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was 67. Right—Jan Gougeon died last December at age 67. He was the youngest of the three Gougeon brothers, who began their careers building boats. Their company formulates and markets WEST SYSTEM epoxy resins and supplies.

The first time I met Jan Gougeon was at his family’s Fourth of July picnic, in Bay City, Michigan, the summer of 1979. The last time was four years ago, while I was writing an article for this magazine on the Gougeon Brothers’ 40th anniversary. As he had in 1979, when I was applying for a job with the brothers’ company, Jan’s brother Meade took me sailing on his well-known 35′ (10.7m) trimaran Adagio, this time with Jan along. The two brothers had built the boat and raced her together many times on the Great Lakes, taking home metal more often than not.

The Gougeon Brothers, makers of WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET epoxies, have done much to promote cold-molded wood construction of boats and other objects (in the 1970s NASA commissioned them to build an experimental set of wind turbine blades, one of which sailors around Block Island, Rhode Island, observed turning for many years. It’s big business today, and the Gougeons were prominent at the dawn of it.)

The older Gougeon brothers are Meade and Joel. Their father died when Jan was just 10, and Meade became not only an older brother but also a father figure to Jan. The youngest brother, Meade says, was small, jaundiced, and cross-eyed, which prompted others to make fun of him. Jan wasn’t good at ball games. It wasn’t until he was given an Optimist pram kit that he found himself. “He was always technically minded,” Meade says. “He liked to take apart his toys to see how they worked.” In a very real sense, Jan found his life’s calling while building and racing that plywood Optimist. His nascent interest evolved into his two passions: designing and building boats, and racing iceboats and multihulls, both of which he was very good at.

With his brothers, Jan helped build a series of acclaimed boats: Rogue Wave, the 60′ (18.3m) Dick Newick–designed trimaran that Phil Weld successfully campaigned in offshore races; Golden Dazy, which won the 1975 Canada’s Cup; Slingshot, a wild-looking proa (it could also be configured as a trimaran) conceived to break the world speed record (it did not, but was still pretty darn fast); and others. All were cold-molded of thin veneers laid diagonally over forms and locked in shape with epoxy resin.

One of the last models built for others by GBI was the G32 catamaran, a self-righting multihull designed by Jan. His motivation for the design was the flipping of his 30′ (9.1m) Flicka while qualifying for the 1980 OSTAR singlehanded race. He spent four days in the overturned boat, vowing he’d never again design a multihull that couldn’t right itself. In the years that followed, Jan kept the Gougeon boatbuilding tradition alive in a dedicated shop on the Saginaw River, behind the epoxy plant.

Besides Flicka and the G32, over the years his projects included the 25′ (7.6m) Splinter, the 35′ (10.7m) Ollie, and his latest, the 40′ (12.2m) Strings, an innovative mixed-media (plywood/carbon fiber) trimaran, whose length he chose because that’s what you get when you scarf together five sheets of plywood. (For more on Jan Gougeon and Strings, see “Gougeon. G-O-U-G-E-O-N. Gougeon.” in PBB No. 125.)

In winter, he loved racing iceboats. When Meade wasn’t winning a regatta, it seems Jan was, winning the DN Iceboat World Gold Cup Championships four times, the North American DN Iceboat Championship eight times, as well as other events such as the DN Great Cup of Siberia in Russia in 1989.

Writing on the popular website Sailing Anarchy, fellow iceboater Ron Sherry listed six lessons learned from Jan: “Share your secrets of speed with anyone who asks. Bring your best shit! Appreciate what you have. Even when it’s already really fun, find a way to make it more fun. Be positive and encouraging, no matter how drunk and obnoxious someone is. Be the one to say something good.”

More than 300 friends attended Jan’s memorial service in Bay City to tell stories and celebrate his life. GBI president Alan Gurski, a nonsailor before coming to the company, told how for the last six years Jan taught him how to sail. “We spent three weeks on the mainsheet,” he said, “and then three weeks on the jibsheet. Then we moved on to sheet leads…. We raced his G32 Pocket Rocket, which had two boards, two rudders, sometimes flying three or four sails; there was all this stuff going on. I remember asking Jan if I should raise one of the boards and he said, ‘Alan, just sail the damn boat!’

“Jan was such a great teacher, and I came to realize that ‘just sail the damn boat’ was a life lesson, too, that too often we feel overwhelmed by problems, health, the economy, and get so myopic we lose sight of the big picture. ‘Just sail the damn boat.’”

That last sail four years ago on Adagio, I kicked back on the tramp with my camera, Meade steered, and Jan studied the sails. “There’s nothing more we can add to this boat,” he said. “It’s completely tricked out.”

Nothing left to do but just sail the damn boat.

Big Torqeedo

Deep Blue electric outboardTorqeedo

The German company Torqeedo, maker of small electric trolling-speed outboard motors, recently introduced Deep Blue, an electric outboard with power equivalent to a conventional 80-hp (60-kW) model.

Electric propulsion is slowly gaining traction in the automotive and marine worlds. Its shortcomings, compared to internal-combustion engines powered by fossil fuels, are limited run time and power. Torqeedo, a German-made electric outboard that we first described in PBB No. 115, page 130, has won numerous awards for its innovations. PBB contributing editor Nigel Calder described the motors  as “works of art,” relying on “rare-earth neodymium-boron magnets to achieve a high power density.” The motors, he wrote, are “electronically commutated, which enables manipulation of the magnetic characteristics to achieve very high efficiency (90%) over a relatively wide speed range.” A significant difference from other electric outboards is placement of the stator inside the rotor, which, Calder wrote, “gives the rotor a much larger diameter than would typically be the case, resulting in high torque” and much higher power-to-size and power-to-weight ratios.

Early models, including the current model range of small motors, have power equivalent to outboard engines with around 1–3 hp (0.75–2.25 kW), similar to those employed as trolling motors on bass boats. Now, Torqeedo has rocked the boating world with a whopping 80-hp (60-kW) equivalent electric outboard it calls Deep Blue.

And Deep Blue is different, as Chris Carroll, vice-president for sales and marketing, explains: “Our other motors are run by smaller brushless motors which are located in the hub of the motor, providing direct drive to the propeller. With a system this big it is not possible. The motor is in the head of the engine, much like a combustion engine, then through a gear reduction in the shaft, where it is transferred to the propeller. The motor is a very complex piece of machinery. There is also a connection box mounted inside the boat which is managing all the systems, taking and feeding information from the motor to the connection box, taking and feeding information to the battery system, and also collaborating all that information and feeding it to the user by way of touch-screen interface on the console. The result is maximizing efficiency while keeping the system running in the safest way possible.”

Because it operates on 325VDC, the company will sell Deep Blue only to boat manufacturers willing to install it during original construction of the boat. Torqeedo recently announced its first two installations: on a Zodiac military/professional RIB and an Everglades boat.

Here are some highlights:

  • A vector-controlled brushless motor, said to be 98% efficient, is suitable for saltwater cooling, and is waterproof to IP 67 (Ingress Protection rating).
  • Electronic controls have CAN interface NMEA 2000/J1939.
  • A hub-vortex-vane propeller derived from commercial ship technology minimizes turbulence caused by the hub, and incorporates a “mini propeller at the end of the hub.”
  • Onboard computer and 5.7″ (145mm) touch-screen display with 14 different screens show GPS-determined speed over ground, range remaining, and other data.

The lithium batteries, installed in a weight-conscious location, were developed for Torqeedo by Johnson Controls (Plymouth, Michigan), and are based on the latest automotive technology. The batteries have a nine-year 80% capacity warranty.

Installed with three batteries on a 1,102-lb (499-kg) Palena 6.2 model from German boatbuilder Rivers and Tides, the motor delivered these results: 13 hours run time at 5.6 mph, covering 72.7 miles; 2.03 hours run time at 12.4 mph, covering 25.5 miles. Top speed of 31.1 mph allowed the boat to cover 22.1 miles in 42 minutes.

The motor weighs 276 lbs (125 kg); total system weight with two batteries is 999 lbs (453 kg), and 1,656 lbs (750 kg) with four batteries.

Now for cost: $19,999 U.S. for the motor unit. Two batteries will run $32,998, and four $65,996. The company says that if your fuel costs exceed $6,000 per year, you’ll save money with its Deep Blue system. More data on the cost of electricity can be found on the company’s website.

Torqeedo North America, 171 Erick St., Unit A-1, Crystal Lake, IL 60014, tel. 815–444–8806, fax 815–444–8807, website In Europe: Torqeedo GmbH, Friedrichshafener Strasse 4a, 82205 Gilching, Germany, tel. +49 (0) 8151 268 67 0, fax +49 (0) 8151 268 67 19.

Rockler Router Tables

Rockler router tableRockler Woodworking and Hardware

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware offers a variety of router tables, the best of which is the ultra-flat 1½″-thick (38mm) cast iron Bench Dog ProMaxRT.

Rockler, a tool distributor specializing in woodworking, recently redesigned its line of router tables, including one made of 1-1/2″-thick (38mm) cast iron. The reason for cast iron: superior vibration absorption. The one-piece top measures 24″ x 32″ x 1-1/2″ (61cm x 81cm x 38mm) and weighs 100 lbs (45 kg). The company calls the surface “ultra flat,” having been ground to within 0.008″ (0.2mm). A 12-point leveling/locking system keeps the working area flush and the aluminum router plate securely in place. Rockler’s ProFence is milled aluminum; two sub-fences, adjustable without tools, are made of medium-density fiberboard. Accessory tracks include a standard miter track and a Universal T-track that accepts three kinds of bolt heads (1/4″/6mm and 5/16″/8mm T-bolts, and 1/4″ hex bolts). As with the other redesigned tables, there’s a 2-1/2″ (64mm) dust port for attaching a vacuum hose.

Price of the Bench Dog ProMaxRT router table is $599.99. The HPL and Pro Phenolic tables sell for $249.99 and $399.99, respectively.

Rockler also sells a wide variety of power and hand tools made by leading manufacturers.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, 4365 Willow Dr., Medina, MN 55340 USA, tel. 800–279–4441, fax 763–478–8395, website

Breathe-Easy Longboard

LongboardHPM Engineering

HPM Engineering’s line of articulated aluminum longboards are fitted with vacuum-hose connections for dust removal. Boards are 15cm (6″) wide and available in 1m, 2m, and 3m (3′4″, 6′7″, and 9′9″) lengths.

File this in the category “Why didn’t I think of that?” Already in the file are the bright ideas of putting wheels on suitcases and a motor in your toothbrush. Seen at METS 2012 (Amsterdam), in the Italian pavilion, was a longboard fitted with a dust-extraction system, perhaps the first of its kind. Its manufacturer, HPM Engineering, specializes in dust control and containment in the workplace. It makes a wide variety of equipment, from vacuums, filters, and enclosures not only for sanding but also painting, laminating, cutting, sandblasting, gluing, and application and removal of other coatings. Its portable, soft-sided enclosures would be of particular interest to builders and repair yards as spray booths and bottom-paint-dust containment.

HPM’s longboards are made of articulated aluminum sections that retain the flexible synthetic board and abrasive. They’re available in 1m, 2m, and 3m lengths (3′4″, 6′7″, and 9′9″). Width of the boards is 6″ (15cm). HPM has partnered with SIA Abrasives (Cassolnovo, Italy) to supply sandpaper for its longboard in grits from #40 to #320. The hook-and-loop paper is available in up to 82′ (25m) rolls, and it’s perforated with a pattern of holes so that dust created on the surface is exhausted through the paper and pad to the vacuum hose. The vacuum hose connection for the 1m and 2m boards is 13/16″ (30mm); for the 3m board the connection is 1-1/2″ (38mm). HPM makes a variety of mobile extraction/filtration vacuums, utilizing polyester prefilters and active carbon filters, fitted with large-diameter exhaust hoses of any length desired.

HPM Engineering, Via della Lora, 40, 50031 Barberino di Mugello (Fl) Italy, tel. +39 055 19 99 22 82, fax +39 055 19 99 22 72, website

A Visit With George Cuthbertson

George CuthbertsonCuthbertson & Cassian (BOTH)

George Cuthbertson designed the Viking 33, top, in 1973. He says he did not design a swept-back keel, but to reduce wetted surface simply “removed” a triangular aft section of keel from an earlier design, retaining the same leading edge.

Prior to attending the reunion of C&C Yachts employees and friends last year in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (which I reported on in this column in PBB No. 138), I was fortunate to visit with George Cuthbertson, yacht designer and a founding member of the company. His story is told in some detail in PBB No. 92. To briefly recap, Cuthbertson, a graduate engineer from the University of Toronto, began building boats in 1953. His first big design commission was for the 54′ (16.5m) Inishfree, which enjoyed a successful racing career. His 40′ (12.2m) Red Jacket, purportedly the first balsa-cored boat, won the 1968 Southern Ocean Racing Circuit and accelerated Cuthbertson’s rise to fame and perhaps a little fortune. He’s now retired in Burlington, Ontario.

DS: What are some other highlights besides Red Jacket?

GC:Red Jacket defined the direction we were to go for a variety of reasons. Not just fin keel and spade rudder. Spade rudder is a story in itself. Most designers, including Olin Stephens, hung the rudder on a skeg. We did not. We had a pure spade. The reason is it came out of tank-testing from Stevens Institute [of Technology]. There were hard reasons for it.

DS: Does that explain the scimitar-shaped rudder? How did that evolve?

GC:Red Jacket was tank-tested at Stevens Institute. The model was showing a very strong weather helm, which I couldn’t understand. So Peter Desaix said, “Why don’t you tuft the model and have a good look at the water flow?” So we tufted it with strings and so on, and it was obvious there was a strong cross flow under the counter as the boat heeled. It was from the windward side to the leeward side, because the rudder was impeding the cross flow, and the cross flow was driving the stern to leeward and the bow to windward and giving the appearance of weather helm. We took the rudder off the model, ran it again, and the cross flow was just the same, but the boat balanced fine. That told me to absolutely minimize the connection between the rudder and the hull. That’s why for years we had a scimitar-shaped rudder to minimize the breadth of rudder at the hull to allow the cross flow to pass under the counter unimpeded.

DS: What about the swept-back keels that were popular before appendages became more vertical?

GC: One of the primary objectives going away from the full keel was reducing wetted surface. If you look at a design of ours from that era and look at what immediately preceded, there was no difference. We just removed a lot of wetted surface; the leading edge didn’t change at all. Look at the C&C 43. We didn’t change the forefoot, just took all this [deadwood] away that gave the impression of swept back.

[Referring to the hull/rudder interface mentioned above:] I also tended to sometimes over-rake the rudder. I was interested in getting the lateral plane as far aft as possible. I overdid it at times. You run into these problems.

DS: What was the consequence of moving it too far aft?

GC: If I’d raked it more, it would have come out above the waterline.

Red Jacket was significant, but she wasn’t optimized. She showed the direction to go. When asked what boat other than Red Jacket I was most satisfied with in retrospect, I have to say the C&C 61 [18.6m]. There are various reasons for that, not the least of which is that the larger a boat is, the less the human beings count. At 61′ we didn’t have to have a cabin trunk, or deepen the sections to get the floorboards down. The 61 was large enough we could carry our thinking to where we felt it should be.

To read the full interview, go to

Getting a Grip on Accelerations


Equipped with a GPS, the recorder’s route can be superimposed on a chart or Google Earth image to show where the boat went and what events occurred along the way.

Dyena Acceleration RecorderDyena

To comply with the E.U.’s Whole Body Impact and Vibration Directive, Dyena’s Acceleration Recorder, easily mounted on any boat, records boat motions resulting from wave impacts.

Germane to our recent series of articles on scientific attempts to understand vessel and human body accelerations in high-speed boats (“Analyzing Accelerations,” Parts 1 and 2, PBB Nos. 140 and 141), a relatively new company in the U.K. has developed an intriguing device that is easily installed on any boat to measure the effects of wave impacts on the vessel and crew. James Glover of the company Dyena says that while there are knowledgeable people investigating the issue (as cited above), no one had produced an easily used device to assist companies in complying with the E.U.’s Whole Body Impact and Vibration Directive. That is, until Dyena. Glover calls its Acceleration Recorder a “whole body vibration monitoring system” intended for health safety, not as a scientific data logger.

The E.U. Vibration Directive (2002/44/EC) requires employers to observe certain daily exposure limits (see “Practical Impact-Exposure Testing,” page 52).

From Dyena’s September 2012 press release: “With configurable color thresholds, warning levels can be altered to suit the customer’s requirements. Overlaying data from multiple days or different vehicles allows you to compare the crew’s exposure on different routes and alter their daily routine to reduce any health risks. The data also contains the numeric values for the daily vibration exposure in 3 axes as required by the EU Legislation in both RMS A(8) and VDV. Raw data can also be viewed including time, position, speed over ground, course over ground, RMS, and peak g’s in all three axes, and the combined RMS g.”

Recording speed over ground, as you might have guessed, is possible because the Acceleration Recorder is coupled with a GPS, which adds interesting and valuable information. For example, a charter operator could install the recorder on the boat, which requires only a simple mount (near crew) and power supply, and later, after the vessel has been returned, remove the Micro SD card, plug it into a computer, and see a display of the vessel’s track superimposed on a 3D map. With the acceleration data, the vessel’s owner can tell whether there were any unusual impacts requiring investigation and possible repair. Glover says that should the lessor be involved in an accident, the recorder can verify certain circumstances and events, which could be invaluable in the case of ensuing litigation.

The Dyena Acceleration Recorder sells for €2,239 (approximately $3,059); there’s an optional mounting bracket and “tamper-evident security seal.”

Dyena, 115 South Western House, Southampton S014 3AL, U.K., tel. +44 (0) 2380 231 991, website

The end.