Congere, Maxi – Pole thru Mainsail


Congere was a Frers 80’ Maxi, racing here in the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii. It was an aluminum hull and deck, very light weight and built for Bevin Koeppel. The deck plating in many areas was only 5/32” thick and was corrugated every 6” to keep panel stiffness.

We liked this dynamic photo of her broach. We noticed much later that there was a strange black line in the forward lower corner of the mainsail. What is that? It is a shadow, and as we looked closer, we could see the inboard end of the spinnaker pole sticking 6′ through the mainsail to windward. It had broken off the forward side of the mast, during the broach, and poked its way through the main. What a great broach and a timely shot!

Later, Congere was doing the BA to Rio race, the Owner’s favorite, when he rode her up onto the beach 300 miles away from civilization and lights. Complete darkness, no loom from land, they thought they were 14 miles out to sea, then they hit bottom. On the fourth bounce the mast fell down, thirty minutes later the sun came up and they could see the beach 200 yards away. They abandoned the boat for the beach, the 70 year old owner abandoned last.  With more bouncing on the bottom, the keel broke off. Further drift towards the beach and more bouncing, the rudder broke off. Soon she arrived on the beach and the crew got back on for the missing things to take with them, home by land.


Flarecraft – MRI’s Fastest Boat


The Flarecraft is an all carbon fiber ground-effect craft, traveling at 125 mph, 10’ above water. This five (5) seat water craft cannot gain altitude above its own wing span, because the wings are too small, so it is not an airplane, and not governed by the FAA. Instead it is a boat governed by the USCG.

When it is close to the water below the height of its own wing span, like 10’ high, the air being thrown down by the wings can’t go down because of the water boundary. The wings therefore experience increased back pressure creating greater lift capable of carrying the payload with small wings.

As Production engineer I developed all the tooling, the manufacturing process, the quality assurance program and all the systems. We made the prototype to carry three people. We kept putting on better more powerful engines, six in all, and our speed and payload went up. We helped the Flarecraft Corporation build seven (7) craft at several different facilities, affording them smooth transfer of technology. It got better and better which is the joy of mass production.

Victory ’83, Sailing to Windward

Victory '83, Sailing to Windward

Victory ’83, is a British 12 Metre, that came to the US to race in the 1983 America’s Cup in Newport, RI. In 2007 a new Owner found it abandoned in the South of France and brought it back to Newport. It got a new cockpit, new mast, winches, hardware, a new paint job, sails and running rigging. It was beginning to race again, but was missing a great many go-fast systems. They hired me in 2009 to finish it off and stay racing. I have stayed with them to this day.

We have won the last four (4) North American Championships. In 2013 we won with seven (7) firsts.



























Victory ’83 under Spinnaker


Victory under Spinnaker lg.



Victory ’83 approaches the leeward mark and its time to hoist the jib and take the spinnaker down.

One of our recent innovations is an ability to use six (6) grinders to grind the spinnaker DOWN, into the forward hatch and all the way back to the rudder, sucking it all in, making take downs very positive. It is definitely going to come down and in and never back out.

Victory ’83 Sailing Away

Victory '83 Sailing AwayVictory ’83 sails with sixteen (16) onboard. Back on a 12M during the America’s Cup, we sailed with eleven (11), and we all had 110% of a job to do. Now we have four permanent grinders and a mainsheet grinder, as well as some extra brains aft.

We also own a second 12M, Defender, a yacht I helped make in 1982, for Tom Blackaller and Gary Jobson. The Owner found her in Florida, languishing, abandoned. It was what got him interested in 12 Metres in the first place. She is a 1983 boat, so it is in the same class as Victory, Modern, no wings. He eventually bought it and brought it home to Newport to build the class. We refurbished Defender, curing some of her inherent problems. She still needs a suit of sails, running rigging and some love, then it will be set to go.

Cakewalk, America’s Largest

Cakewalk, 281'


In 2007, I went to work for Paul Derecktor in Bridgeport after closing MRI. Cakewalk was just starting to weld its first pieces together. I was hired as Planner and Scheduler, and as part of upper management, and as a boatbuilder, I became part of the Launch Committee. The boat and cradle were going to weigh 2,000 tons, 4,000,000 pounds, so our 600 ton travelift would be useless. The boat had to move 1,400′ to the bulkhead, which was eight feet (8′) above high tide. It then had to transfer over the edge onto a drydock, or something, and finally be lowered twenty feet (20′) until it floated off its cradle. Bridgeport had seven feet (7′) of tide, and of course, as the weight is transferred to the drydock it sinks down under the load, so water has to be pumped out to keep things level at all times. It would take time all while the tide is going up and down, very tricky!

Three years later, Tom Derecktor was in charge and we successfully transferred it across and launched without a scratch. I am proud of his leadership, and his inner strength. I pride myself for being an instrumental part of the team, that did what seemed to be an impossible task.



Cakewalk and a 600T Travelift

Cakewalk and a 600 ton Travelift


In building Cakewalk at Derecktors Bridgeport, CT , I wore several hats one of which was Production Engineer. The hull modules were made of steel and could weigh 150 tons each and were fabricated up-side down. With the chief engineer, I was tasked to figure out how to roll them right side up and then how to lift them to altitude to properly install them to the ever growing larger main module. The main module wasn’t in its final production station, because of earlier projects occupying the space.

There came a time when the main module was large enough to weigh 550 tons, perhaps the last opportunity to be lifted by our 600 ton Travelift. This last pick would enable us to reposition the main module into its required position in the 300′ bay. It was also the opportunity to place it onto the launching cradles which had sixteen (16) modules themselves. So pretty early on, the Launching process had to be defined and committed to, in order to build the cradle modules and stand ready for production to flow smoothly. This photo is the main module, being lifted for the last time in the Travelift.

Cakewalk fills Building

Cakewalk fills Building


This gigantic building at Derecktors is 300′ long with a 281′ yacht filling it. The door is 80′ wide and 70′ high. It was my job to define how we lift the upper most modules to altitude and walk them forward to be installed on the top, in the middle. With our Aerogo airslides lifting the boat 4″ before sliding out, we ended up with only 6″ of clearance to exit the building. The Mast Module had to be installed outside.

It is difficult to paint such a large object. It had to be done in sections. Another hat that I wore was painting advisor. We had to invent ventilation and exhaust systems, tenting, and scaffolding. It is hard to fair such long flat runs of surface, traditional long boards are too short to serve as guidelines. Our two paint subcontract companies were wonderfully skilled and worked the second shift for years. I learned a lot, even from our novice paint manager, Carl, who worked hard and was wonderfully inventive. I liked him a lot. The paint job was definitely yacht quality. I was very proud of it.

Cakewalk exits Building

Cakewalk exits Building


That fateful day finally comes when the yacht, Cakewalk, exits the building. It is rotated slightly to align with the Dry-dock, which will be the next step in movement towards launching. The staging is left behind, no longer needed. The building had been so full, for so long, that we were all used to it, and it is a little depressing to see and feel it empty. Perhaps it is like giving birth.

Cakewalk in Cradles on Airslides

Cakewalk in Cradle on Airslides


The cradle was made up of sixteen (16) steel I-beam modules, connected by a side longitudinal beam P & S, as well as the boat. There were two Aerogo airslides under each module P & S for a total of thirty-two (32) airslides. Each airslide was a palletized hovercraft,  5′ in diameter and capable of lifting 100 tons up 4″. The total lift capacity was 3200 tons and the ship and cradle’s projected weight was 2,000 tons, so we were safe. The airlsides needed a good smooth surface to be effective , which we had, and it was tricky to cross the bridge to the dry-dock. The dry-dock had an elevated ramp to help with altitude, but also offered a good smooth air tight surface for the airslides.

We had seven (7) compressors supplying compressed air to all of them. One of the orange valve manifolds is just to the right of the two men in the foreground. To the left of them and in the lower right corner of the photo, too, are guiding posts with two forklift solid rubber tires on them. The longitudinal side beam of the cradle could roll against them and keep on track. Once you are up on air you would start going downhill, off track perhaps, so we had rollers to guide us.

We were concerned about gaining speed and speed was our enemy. In fact we still had to pull against friction to get things to move downhill toward the water.  To the right of the cradle you can see the five sheave pulley and cables which are running to the biggest winch I have ever seen. We had an equally big winch at the other end of the cradle for braking.