Building Courageous

by Stephen Lirakis

In 1973 I accepted a job at Minneford’s Yacht Yard to build aluminum boats lured by the assurance that I would build the next Sparkman & Stephens twelve meter; the first in aluminum. Interestingly the decision had been taken to supply the offsets in metric; a departure from tradition. The reason being that it would be more precise– the plans for the keel were supplied in tenths of a foot. Finding metric rulers in 1973 was not as easy as today, as well having to find a tape in tenths.

The plans for a twelve meter were delivered in the fall of 1973. This boat was originally going to be sailed by Bill Ficker and his team. We even built a mock-up of the boat which we could heel, Bill and the crew came to try the layout and make suggestions. Due to circumstances Bill and his team were out. Olin instructed us to continue work on the boat as he looked for a new syndicate.

Only two of us were assigned to the build during this time. To further retard our progress; no scantlings existed for aluminum twelves meter. We developed scantlings that we proposed to Lloyds and then had to wait for their approval.

As we laid down the lines of Courageous it became clear that her design was an evolution of Constellation and Intrepid; with subtle and progressive innovations, all within The Rule.

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We built all the fittings at Minneford’s, Including the cauldron in which we melted 50,000 pounds of lead for the keel which we poured into the mould made of 50,000 pounds of cement. The pour took place over a 24 hour period with breaks for food.

Even though the keel mould had cured for at least 6 weeks, once we started the pour of molten lead into the mold the steam coming from the cement was frightening. I was concerned that the whole thing might explode. Happily it did not.

Looking back, I went to Minneford’s to be involved in building a 12 meter, never imagining Courageous would be the last two-time defender.