I hate to be the bearer of this:
Jan passed last night of respiratory failure, at the age of 67.
A true giant. I miss him already.
I hate to be the bearer of this:
Jan passed last night of respiratory failure, at the age of 67.
A true giant. I miss him already.
Sad news indeed.
Thanks, Dave. A defining moment for me of the Gougeon Brothers' way was when I showed up, a day early, for the celebration of their 40th anniversary, two-three years ago.
I came to their office at say 9 am. Meade showed me around (as he always does), in his generous and wonderful way. And then took me sailing, extemporaniously, on Adagio.
When we came back, Jan showed me around Strings, his 40' trimaran, then a'building. Amazing, in its own right.
He said, "Carl, if she doesn't sail well, I'll convert her into a powerboat."
This, to me, is the articulation of the Gougeon Brothers' way. There is never a problem without a solution.
God love you, Jan. We all did and do during your too short time on earth.
May the wind be at your back, your spinnaker filling nicely, and your boat quickly jumping on a plane as you head for the perpetual finish line and victory.
Sad news indeed - sorry to hear it!
A giant indeed!
Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.
Both brothers deserve huge kudos for their pioneering role in developing and popularizing epoxy as a tool for boatbuilders and other woodworkers. Back in the 70's, I was using it both for boat and architectural millwork applications. I used the technical advice a lot, and they were unfailingly patient, helpful, and straightforward about what they knew vs. what they thought they know vs. what they suspected.
Please do not take this the wrong way. I mean no dis-respect to the poor man.
But when I read "respiratory failure" I could not help but wonder if it was partly due to a lot of epoxy dust being inhaled over a number of years.
We are all much more careful than we once were but a lot of the modern wonder products are dangerous to use.
Does anyone know if my question has an answer?
What defined Jan Gougeon as a Man to me, was in the fall of 1973 when he was still recovering from a terrible ice boating accident from the previous Winter. Racing his DN iceboat in a regatta he was T-boned amidships by another boat going down wind, probably impacting at more than 60 mph.
He could have been paralyzed, and I asked him what he would do if he could never walk again. He said; " I would still come to the boat shop every day, so I would build a platform with castors so I could roll myself around the shop so I could work." It was a defining moment to the meaning of life I never forgot.
Last edited by otseg; 12-18-2012 at 09:17 PM.
That's Jan, Jim. Not what oldsub said.
Please be gracious in respects; don't see negativity wherever you go.
This is both the best of the Forum, and the worst. Sorry, oldsub, but I think you're out of line here.
We owe them so much.
Most of modern amateur boat building depends on their work.
A great loss.
Just where in the world would the hobby and business of modern wooden boatbuilding be without the contributions made by Mr Gougeon? My deepest sympathies goes to the Gougeon family, their friends and all the folks at Gougeon Brothers. A huge loss, indeed.
I'd rebuilt one broken mast in 1974 using epoxy but it was a bit hard to use and I was so delighted when I heard of the Gougeon brothers. I loved being a very small and amateur part of an emerging technology, trying stuff, sending over ideas and getting really insightful feedback. Their continuing role in the woodenboat renaissance cannot be understated and the many later competing proprietary epoxies really owe a great deal of their success to the public expansion and usability the Gougeon brothers have built. Jan will be missed.
Bugger. Best wishes to those he's left behind. The G's technical publications and products have been invaluable to me.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem
I'd rather look back at my life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of being there saying "I wish I'd done that"
Gosh, I'm sorry to hear that....
When I was starting to mess with boats in a more serious way some 30 years ago, "G. B. Brothers on Boat Construction" was one of the first books I bought. It was (and is) a wonderful read & reference, one of the very best available on modern boat building. Clear, concise, but still easy to read and understand, it's a dandy. I especially like engineering aspect of it, seeing the boat as a structure, light but strong, not overbuilt, wasting of neither materials or time in it's construction. Their examples of home-shop materials testing are like nothing I've seen elsewhere, and they've been an inspiration to me, and others I'm sure. My copy is now moldy from years in the shop, with a broken spine from use, but still right there for me always.
I'm saddened by his loss, and I send best wishes to his family, knowing they can take comfort in the great contributions he has made. The G brothers expanded wooden boat building to a whole new generation, thank you ---
We all benifitted from his work. Toast him next time you mix a batch of epoxy.
Angels everywhere are going to get better engineered wings.
I first learned of them around the time of Golden Dazy.
Losing one of them is like losing one of the Wright brothers back in the day in aeronautics. RIP.
"A willing foe, and sea room".
Iím sorry to hear of Janís passing. I never met the man but through *GB on Boatbuilding* book I feel he has been with me since 1979.
Fair winds to the next port.
I never met him, but reading about him, I wish I had. He sounds like someone I would have liked to know. My condolences to those of you who knew him.
Await dreams, loves, life; | There is always tomorrow. | Until there is not.
Grieving love unsaid. | Tomorrow will fail someday. | Tell them today, OK?
I get by with the judicious use of serendipity.
Jan and and his brother certainly have had a huge influence. I think the first I heard of them was when they had a trimaran in the Yachting one-of-a-kind regatta. It was a fascinating boat, but I couldn't learn much about it. I think that was the first year the multihulls beat the A scow. I believe that tri had flexibly mounted amas, a concept they returned to later. There was so much ingenious, original thinking in that boat. For me, that boat reflects the pattern the brothers followed after that. Wish I could find a picture of it.
On the trailing edge of technology.
My God! What a shock! What a loss to all of us!
Here's his obituary, courtesy of WEST System today:
Jan Clover Gougeon, of Bay City, Michigan, died Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at age 67.
1n 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, Ollieand 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.
That is a fine memorial. Its hard to know, which came first. The Sailor or the Boat builder. I believe Jan built an Optimist Pram when a Cub Scout. A 26' sloop, The Half Ton's Accolade and Hot Flash should be added to the list too.
We lost another friend to the sea this summer, and over supper we were talking with our young daughters for something to ease the pain of our friends Sandy and Jan passing. It is the memories of our favorite things that helps us through. My daughter wrote down the song tonight that helps her most, and the grown ups too.
That's fabulous, Jim! I can almost hear her singing it....
I like that he is being buried at sea. Very fitting.
Jan Gougeon at the 2011 DN Worlds (from above). I imagine he was looking forward to the winter ice-boating season
and would appreciate the fun these guys have: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8KArtcP4o0
"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." ~ Mark Twain
Thanks for letting us know Carl, fair winds and condolences. Rick
I started the other thread, on the bilge. I last saw Jan about two weeks ago, while he and Mead were working on some trailer parts. I'm glad to have talked to him one more time.....sure will miss him...
I can see Jan in my mind now when he would explain something. He would hold his hands like he was cradling an invisible crystal ball. Maybe that's where his ideas came from because he didn't copy others.
It makes me laugh when I think back on things. Meade Joe and Jan would buy things in threes. When Hobie's came out they bought some 16's in quantity and became dealers.
Jan discovered that the secret to making a Hobie 16 go to weather was to load up the rudders. The limitation was that they were a hard plastic and flexed. A few days before the nationals Jans idea was to rout out a 2" wide flat channel on each side of the plastic rudder and fill it with an 1/8' of uni carbon fiber. Carbon fiber back then was a 50K tow that gougeons flattened out and you laid in place one by one.
He was so excited when he came in the next morning to try them. He flexed the first rudder by clamping the head in the bench vise. Both cured carbon strips popped off the plastic like shot from a gun. Really, the look of 30 seconds of dismay, followed by the light bulb of inspiration is impossible to describe.
He grabbed some sitka spruce and sawed and shaped two replacements. They were flow coated with Epoxy mixed with Aluminum powder. Because they were under weight for the Hobie rules, they received a triangle of lead correction weight near the tips. Neadless to say, showing up at the Hobie Cat Nationals the next day with the only gray rudders with a black triangle and going faster in a sea of white plastic was cause for some discussion. Meade, Joe and Jans New ideas were often followed by new class rules.
Cross posted from SCAMP Envy and lust thread.
I knew that Jan Gougeon was not well, but the space in my psyche where the Gougeon Bros live was not ready for him to depart. At this time of life though ( I'll be drawing my universal superannuation in just over 12 months) its inevitable though that the ranks of the "heros" who have shaped ones life are beginning to thin. I walk along my bookshelf and note that William Garden, Phil Bolger, Dynamite Payson, John Leather and now Jan Gougeon will not write again, they leave big shoes to be filled. I hope that we are found worthy.
It was the Gougeon Brothers book on boat construction that set me on the design path that eventually produced SCAMP. The whole construction system is based upon information from that book, the epoxy resin with various additives to produce the several products from coatings to adhesives, high and low density fillers, fiberglass tapes and cloth skins being a large part of it. But also, the engineering of plywood structures, the mapping of stress paths and using that information to calculate the distribution of loads around the structure being something that I'd not considered "BG" ( Before Gougeon) and it has lead to boats like SCAMP where every single piece of material in that boat contributes to its strength and stiffness making a lightweight but extraordinarily strong structure.
Although they personally have been somewhat in the background of late, enjoying the fruits of their labours, the work that the Gougeon Brothers have done has had a huge influence on our boating lives and will continue to do so for a very long time.
I'm sorry that I did not meet Jan in person, but feel that he, along with brothers Meade and Joe, have been a part of my life for many years and will continue to guide me. I'm sorry he's gone, long may he live.
An expert is but a beginner with experience.
Over the years, the Gougeon Brothers have come to my rescue, many times by answering questions and giving sound advise. Jan was always ready with astute and enocuraging advise as to what their products will and won't do. I always wished that I could have met him in person! Now that opportunity has passed until Styx freezes over and I can sail an ice boat sail over to be greeted by him and his pal Peter. Till then I will just have to stay warm in the glow of his shadow in the resin.
What a great man he was and a great family they all are!
I miss him,
From Sailing Anarchy:
Michigan iceboat superstar Ron Sherry says if everyone lived like Jan Gougeon, the world would have a lot more fun. On his death, Ron put together the following story to celebrate the man.
I could write a book titled “What I Learned From Jan Gougeon” but it would take volumes. So I am going to tell you a few stories about building, racing, and dealing with people that we all need to remember and try to live by.
Jan always was looking towards the next project. He was not what you would call a party animal. However, one of my first real good memories of Jan was in 1980 when Meade won the DN North Americans. Jan was so happy to see his brother win the North Americans he was heard by many to say, “I haven’t puked in a long time, let’s get drunk tonight”. We partied well into the next morning and we carried Jan to his room. You would have thought he had won. I know when I finally won Jan made sure to help me celebrate and I thought that was so cool.
In 1982 Jan and I were at the top of our game taking first and second in every event we entered. We knew we were going to Germany for the Worlds and kidded each other on the starting line in the one and two starting positions at the Detroit Invitational, saying, “It’s going to be just like this in Germany”. Little did we know it would really happen.
Jan had traveled to Europe before and was the victim of a little team racing that kept him from winning. With his new veneer mast, he had enough speed that no one could stop him. He also strategically placed himself in the final race to make sure I ended up second for the regatta.
One night during the regatta all the national teams were working on their runners in one big barn. Every team had the most sophisticated equipment I had ever seen. They had light bars and you could change the angle on their sanding machines to what ever you wanted. Jan walked into the room carrying his front-runner and the room got real quiet. Every one was looking over their shoulders to see what he was going to do. He asked if he could borrow a machine and Christoph Schmidt said sure. He took his runner and set it on the belt free handed first one side than the other dragged his fingernail across the edge said thanks and walked out. It took all of about 2 minutes. All the teams were sure he would not use that runner and said he only did that to try and psych them out. I just thought it was great.
Jan’s Lesson #1: Share your secrets of speed with anyone who asks.
FAST is FUN. The faster you make others the faster you will be. Jan always shared information and technology. He honestly would let you know how he built things and what he was trying to accomplish. He knew fast was fun and wanted everyone to have a piece of the fun. He never tried to tell you what to do; he knew everyone has a little creative genius inside them and just tried to coax it out. He had a way of putting everything in layman’s terms that made it look simple.
When Jan dominated the DN Worlds on Barnegat Bay with a new hull design, he went home and made a detailed set of plans so anyone could build the boat. These plans are still today the official plans the DN Class uses and sells.
Jan’s Lesson #2: BRING YOUR BEST ****!
Jan is one of the only people on earth with more enthusiasm for iceboating than me. I called him often, and when we talked, by the time we were done telling stories on racing and what we were building we were on the phone for one and a half hours. But we would always end with the same things. Number one he would say, “Thanks for the core dump”, and then he would say, “Bring your best ****”. Because when we sailed against each other, there were no excuses. If you looked at Jan’s boat he always had a lot of adjustments so if someone was beating him, he could match their tune and learn. There were at least two Worlds and one North Americans that we finished first and second. I knew I was starting to get it when the conditions changed; we got to the starting line and had made the same changes to our boats. I know that when Jan said, “Bring your best ****” it was about all of life, not just sailing. Lets all try to bring our best **** no matter what we are doing. We always ended our conversations with I love you. It took a little while for Jan to get used to that but it made me real happy when he would beat me to it.
Jan’s Lesson #3: Appreciate what you have.
I talked to Jan about a month ago, and he told me about the Fibrosis of the lungs he was suffering through. The problem started when he knocked down a wall in the house he bought in Florida and inhaled a deadly concoction of dust and mouse poop. He told me that it would never get any better. The only hope would be to slow the advancement of the problem. He was on oxygen and was thrilled about the trip that he and Patty had just taken to the Galapagos Islands. He started to break up when he said he didn’t think he could sail his DN any more. I thought to myself, “You might as well cut my arms off” and I knew he felt the same. He also could not fly his planes any more either. He knew the end was coming and called it a ****ty deal. Then in Jan’s fashion he turned it around and said what a great time he had in life and how lucky he was to live the life he had with all the great sailing, Great duke-outs and most of all, great friends. He was making plans to take oxygen on the boat so he could still sail.
I called him last Tuesday to tell him about the Western Challenge Cup and how great my son, Griffin, had done. He was busy building his trailer with his brother Meade so he could take his catamaran, Strings, to Florida. The call was short so he could get back to work, but it ended the same way, “Bring your best **** and love you lots”. He wasn’t able to work on the trailer the next day, but Meade took him to lunch. The next day when Meade took him to lunch, he knew it was time to go to U of M hospital. U of M tried everything they could but the writing was on the wall. The doctors gave him options and he chose his path. Understandably he didn’t want everyone to know, but at Jan’s request he got to say his goodbyes to his brothers, Patty, and close friends. He did not want a funeral- he wanted a party, so let’s not let him down.
Jan’s Lesson #4: Even when it’s already really fun, find a way to make it more fun.
Enough of all that, back to what I learned from Jan. One afternoon on Cass Lake after racing was done for the day we went back to Cartwright’s house to have some venison Sloppy Joes and talk about the racing. It was a beautiful evening and Jan went back out sailing. It was probably a good idea to go back out side because, the Venison tasted amazing but it created a reaction that needed to be released out side.
We weren’t going to let him have all the fun so we joined him. After a couple of speed runs, Jan came up with a great idea. He said, “Let’s just keep on doing laps and who ever is in the lead has to do a loop around the leeward mark.” Can you imagine that in an iceboat? Jan got just what he wanted. We had 8 or 10 of us out there and everyone had to do a loop at the bottom mark. We must have done about 24 laps. Our arms were falling off but everyone had a time that will never be forgotten.
Jan’s Lesson #5: Be positive and encouraging, no matter how drunk and obnoxious someone is.
One year on the Port Huron to Mac race, I was sailing on a Santa Cruz 70 called Equation. Jan was sailing a new G-32. We exchanged leads several times. The crew on our boat was getting really pissed off when he was passing us again on Sunday night. I let them know that we were duking it out against a true God of sailing and that should not be discouraged. I knew exactly who it was and when I said hi Jan, he said, “Is that you Ronny? I thought that was you”. The crew quieted down.
When we got to the island Jan and I were standing at the Pink Pony telling stories. A young man came up to us and said he was an iceboater. Neither Jan nor I recognized him. He had been well served, and went on to tell us how he was going to kick our ass this winter. I smiled and looked at Jan. Jan asked him what kind of equipment he had and went on to tell him what conditions that equipment works really good in. He also told him how to tune it for the different conditions. I followed Jan’s lead and told him how great it is to learn things from different sailors. Needless to say if Jan were not there, the conversation would have taken a different turn.
Jan’s Lesson #6: Be the one to say something good.
The last lesson I will tell you about is one of the greatest of all. We were at an iceboat event and we had a big group standing around talking about a jackhole who had really pissed us off. Every one in the group was telling stories bitching about this guy. When it was Jan’s turn he said, “Ya that stuff is all bad, but at least he got this right”. Jan went on to tell a story about the person that was positive. What a great lesson. From that day on I always try to be the one that says something positive even when everyone else is bitching about someone. If you look, you can always find something positive to say about anyone.
Respectfully submitted with heartfelt love and appreciation. Let’s all try to live our lives using the lessons we learned from one of the greatest people ever born, Jan Gougeon.
"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." ~ Mark Twain
This is sad news! God love You, Jan. I use His epoxy in my boat building. My condolences to His family. Sincerely, Jimmy Lee
I never met the man, but 30 years ago, someone handed me some epoxy to do a boat repair. Knowing nothing, I called the number and Jan walked me through it. Even called back to see how I made out. This is was relatively small and inexpensive repair by a private individual ( aka--"dumb kid") and no reasonable hope of me becoming a steady commercial customer.
I continue to talk them up to this day.
There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.
Jan died a year ago. Not sure why this thread reappeared now. Did I miss something? JayInOz
I am at a loss for words, simply to say that all my clients and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of other people rely on Jan's [and his brothers] epoxy for their lives.
Don't know many with shoes that big.
Delayed but heartfelt condolences to all the family.