Jan Gougeon

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Geoff Sobering:
Jan Gougeon, 4-time World Champion and 7-time North-American champion,died Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at age 67.

More information is on: http://www.westsystem.com/ss/jan-c-gougeon/
and http://iceboat.org/

On behalf of the IDNIYRA Western Region, we send our deepest sympathies to Jan's family.  We have all lost not only a phenominal entrepreneur and world champion iceboater but a first-class friend and mentor as well who passed the torch to all of us in one way or another.  He will be greatly missed.  Western Region Rear Commodore - Julie Jankowski

Ken Smith:
My first encounter with Jan was in 1974 while in grad school at U of MI.  Jan and Meade presented a technical presentation to the Quarterdeck Naval Architecture group on the then-new WEST system and its use in a wind turbine blade and a 35 foot IOR sailboat.  Meade described the engineering, Jan the construction techniques.

I saw Jan at several regattas wen I became an active sailor, living in Menominee starting in 1985.  He was the champion at that time.  My next personal encounter was on the ice in Menominee about 1986 for a Northwest Regatta that did not happen, at which time I bought a set of plans for his "new" DN design, with the widest section at the shoulders.   Jan was asleep in a sleeping bag on his boat, under six inches of fresh snow, when we checked the ice Friday morning.  I built my first DN with those plans, and Jan's yellow boat (the basis for the plans) was sailed, albeit with some popsicle stick repairs and a new stern added on, until just last year at the North Americans.  Jan was a competitor at virtually every mid-west, national and North American regatta since.  Those he did not win, he was always at or near the top of the fleet.

Our rules are what they are because of Jan.  He built 8 inch high plates to sail in deep snow, before that became illegal.  He built runners with several pivots, before that became illegal.  He built 28 pound hulls, before that became illegal.  He invented the bull-nose shape of plates that is near normal now.  He innovated insert runners.  He built strip wood masts to beat the aluminum ones.  He changed the shape of our boats to the now-normal.  Read the interpretations of our rules, and its a good bet the interpretation came about because of something Jan was trying.

I visited the Gougeon Brothers plant at Bay City several times over the years, and watched his catamarans and other projects take shape there.  Jan was the brains and idea guy behind a Formula 40 trimaran with articulating amas that did pretty well on the international circuit when that boat was the hot professional class.  Wood and graphite springs on a single suspension point.  Quite a innovative boat!

Jan loved wood.  His DN trailer is all wood, except the axles.  His DN was all wood (and epoxy).  His boats were wood and fiber.  He designed wood strip masts and all manner of stuff.

The last time I saw Jan was at this last year's NA championships in Green Bay.  He got his camping van stuck when the front end broke through the ice.  About thirty iceboaters carved the ice sheet into a ramp, and a series of six vehicles hooked on by tow straps to help Jan drive the van out.  No big deal.  That van has been stuck in the swamp several times that I know of.  It is a van, but Jan drove it like it was an off-road vehicle.  And I guess it kind-of was.

Jan, we will miss you.  On the ice, on the phone, around the shop.  I hope there is a wonderful shop where you are now.  I know you are figuring out another way to get things done there.

Daniel Hearn:

Thanks for sharing this with those of us who did not know Jan so well, but are clearly benefiting from his ingenuity and vision. 

US 5352

Mark Isabell - DN5014:
Posted with much respect for a true CHAMPION.

If it were me, I would have jumped from the vehicle - but when I looked in, Jan was sipping on a thermos cup of soup!

Jan truly was a first class act all the way.

God Speed my friend.


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