The Year Three Westlawn
Alumni Duked It Out For The America’s Cup!
Chance, Mull, and Swarbrick Go For
it’s seventy-five years, Westlawn alumni have worked in almost every corner of
the boating industry and have had many impressive accomplishments. Perhaps no
single episode speaks more highly of the skill of Westlawn alumni, however,
than the 1987 America’s Cup. In that year, Westlawn alumni competed against each other
in not two but three America’s Cup challengers, two of which faced off in the final. Here’s
the full story from the news release of the day:
“FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA—Outside of being Twelve Meter yachts that
contend for the America’s Cup, there was precious little that the U.S.
challenger Stars and Stripes and the Australian Defender Kookaburra
III had in common.
Philosophies, personalities, and design parameters—particularly
design—was very different in the Australian and American camps. Yet, strangely
enough, there was one similarity: Leading members of the of both boats studied
at the Stamford, Connect-based Westlawn School of Yacht
Westlawn alumnus Britton Chance Jr., 48, who has been involved
in the America’s Cup since 1974, was part of he team
that designed Dennis Connor’s Stars & Stripes. John Swarbrick, 32,
co-designer of Kookaburra III graduated from Westlawn in 1981.
Since the America’s Cup
was won by the Australians in 1983, breaking the sporting world’s longest
winning streak, it has been generally acknowledged that superior design of Australia
II was responsible for the win. Thus, the 1987 Cup was considered a design
race as much as a water race.
In this series, which took place in the Indian Ocean off Fremantle, Western Australia, the American yacht Stars &
Stripes reclaimed the Cup by beating the Australian yacht Kookaburra III
in a decisive victory.
Twelve-Meter yachts are a “development” class. Anything
goes, so long as the final boat, its mast, keel and sail area fit into the
complex equation called “The Twelve-Meter Formula.”
To be chosen as a member of a design team for a Cup boat
is a distinct honor. To design the winner (or even the challenger or defender
that makes to into the finals, for that matter) is the pinnacle of the naval architect’s
craft. Westlawn alumni Gary Mull was chief of deign for the other American
yacht which made it to the challenger semi-finals: San Francisco’s USA.
That two former Westlawn students have battled out the
design criteria for the 1987 America’s Cup, is, according to Westlawn President
Jules Fleder, “a definite honor for the school and reflects most highly on Brit
Chance and John Swarbrick.”
alumni are currently on Team Alinghi and on the BMW Oracle Racing Team.
Perhaps the future will bring a repeat Westlawn A-Cup face-off!
in 1930, the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is the only nationally
accredited and state certified distance-learning school of small-craft design
in the United
As the not-for-profit educational affiliate of the American Boat and Yacht
Council, Westlawn’s primary function is to assure a continual source of highly
skilled designers to the marine industry. To learn more about Westlawn, please
call (410) 956-7100 or visit the Westlawn web site at www.westlawn.edu.