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EIGHT BELLS - Britton Chance Jr.
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The Publisher

Oct 14, 2012, 1:34 PM

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Britton Chance Jr., lead designer for the successful 1987 and 1988 Stars & Stripes America's Cup campaigns, died October 12 at the age of 72 years.

Britt Chance grew up around boats - both sail and power - became seriously interested in yacht design at 15, trained in the sciences at the University of Rochester, worked at the towing tank at Stevens Institute, studied mathematics at Columbia University, worked for Ray Hunt and Ted Hood, and went on his own with Chance & Company in 1962.

Britt has a diverse design portfolio which ranges from racing shells to dinghies to multihulls, fast cruisers and offshore racers to power boats, including the high-tech Flarecraft, as well as Meter and America’s Cup boats. Indeed, Chance is closely identified with Cup design; Britt was a lead designer in both the ‘87 & ‘88 Stars & Stripes campaigns, played a leading role in the formulation of the IACC Class, and, in the ‘92 Defense, led the joint PACT/Boeing appendage research project for all US Syndicates.

Britt’s Shark Series racing shells have won Olympic and World Championship Medals, U23 Worlds, the IRA, NCAA, NEIRA, at Henley, HOCR, as well as Canadian Henley, Canadian University Championships and English Schoolboy Championships.

Britt’s sailboat designs have won numerous awards including: the America’s Cup three times, Olympic Gold and Silver Medals, the One Ton Cup, the Gold Cup, 5.5 Meter Worlds, the Astor Trophy, the NORC, PORC, CBYRA, LMYA, Boat of the Year in Chicago and Detroit, and also: North Sea, Kiel, Marseilles, Genoa, Larchmont, and Alassio Race Weeks, Semaine de Geneve, New York Yacht Club Cruise, and Off Soundings, and have attained at least class in SORC, Bermuda, Transpac, and Block Island Race Week. His boats have been selected for various Admirals’ Cup, Sardinia Cup, NYYC, and Onion Patch teams, and have held the course records for Ft. Lauderdale, Vineyard, Key West, and Capetown-Rio Races.

An active rower and sailor, with extensive dinghy, IOR, IMS and 5.5 & 12 Meter experience, Britt was alternate helmsman in the Olympics for the 5.5 Meter and Dragon Classes. He has crewed, or skippered, in major events including the America’s Cup Trials, One Ton Cup, Admiral’s Cup, 5.5 Meter Worlds, and offshore in the Bermuda, Fastnet, Middle Sea, and SORC Races. For a change of pace, he rows competitively.

Britt has taught engineering at Yale University as well as Wesleyan and Trinity Colleges and has taught Computer-Aided Naval Architecture at the Center for Creative Imaging. Britt has presented numerous papers to the Society of Naval Architects, the AIAA, the American Philosophical Society about his work. Britt also has consulted for the USOC Sports Science & Technology Committee regarding rowing technique/biomechanics and designed for the shell supplier to both US & Canadian National Rowing Teams and reported on this work at Joy of Sculling Conferences.

Born: June 12, 1940, Philadelphia, PA; single, daughter Tamsin, 30 years old; resides in Lyme, CT; President and Chief Naval Architect, Chance & Company, Inc., Lyme, CT since 1962. Hobbies: sailing, sculling, fly fishing, music, literature, art, and mathematics.

The Publisher

Oct 14, 2012, 1:36 PM

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The Barnegat Bay Sailing Hall of Fame grew October 6, 2012 as eight inductees were added to the roster. The program to honor Barnegat sailors, past and present, who have distinguished themselves in the sport, began in 2004 and selections are made every two years.

The program benefits the Ocean County College sailing program, and Saturday’s reception served as a fundraiser for a community sailing center to be built at Mill Creek Park in Bayville. The center, officially the J. Phillip Citta Center for Sailing and Maritime Arts and Sciences, will serve multiple purposes, said Roy Wilkins, manager of the college sailing club.

Besides serving as a home for the sailing club, which competes in collegiate regattas, the center will serve disabled sailors, who need suitable ramps and equipment for access. This will be the only such facility so far in New Jersey, Wilkins said.

The program already has six Access Dinghies, small, stable boats often used by disabled sailors, Wilkins said.

High school sailing teams will use the center, and there will be a college marine sciences program and ecology center, and a community launching spot for kayaks and paddle boards.

Docks are scheduled to be in place by spring and plans are proceeding for construction of the building, Wilkins said. For information call him at (732) 255-0348.

The inductees:

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees are John Applegate of the Lavallette YC, Roger Brown of the Metedeconk YC, renowned yacht designer Britton Chance Jr., and Paul Coward of the Brant Beach YC.

Also: Mark Schleckser of the Shore Acres and Lavallette YCs, John P. Harkrader of the Bay Head and Manasquan River YCs, Charles Horter of the Island Heights YC, and Doug and Peg Galloway of the Little Egg Harbor YC, posthumously.

The Publisher

Oct 14, 2012, 1:39 PM

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Here are the notes that Jon Wright wrote for Britt’s induction into the Barnegat Bay Sailing Hall of Fame last Saturday, October 6.

Chance family moved to Manto in the early 50’s when Brit was 10 yrs. old.

He sailed Moths as a teenager on the BB and crewed on E Scows for his father, Runnie C and Ed O’Malley.

From Moths he moved on to racing Penguins on the Bay and at the age of 18 went to the Internationals’ in Biloxi, Mississippi where he placed third--only 4 points out of first behind future Olympic sailor Gardner Cox who won that year.

Most likely, his interest in yacht design came from those days of racing on the bay. In fact, while in high school attending Episcopal Academy he took the West lawn correspondence course for Naval Architecture.

After HS he attended The University of Rochester where he trained in the sciences, but left early to pursue his dream of becoming a Yacht Designer.

While working at the towing tank at Stevens Institute he studied mathematics at Columbia University.

In 1960 he crewed for R Colie in a 5.5 Meter that he had designed in the US Trails in Marblehead Mass. Unfortunately they lost to George O’Day by one point in the last race.

Before starting his own company in 1962 he worked for Ted Hood and powerboat designer Ray Hunt.

Britt designed many fast boats to the IOR rule in the late 60’s through the 70’s His first early success was a little 30’- err named Jet that cleaned up on Long Island Sound. This little PT -30 production boat caught a lot of attention and led to designs of his for customers in the states and Europe. A few names come to mind.

Ondine a 75 Maxi ketch with a retractable keel and folding spreaders on the mizzen
Equation a similar 70 for Jack Potter.

Warrior a 56’Cold molded sloop for a customer on the West Coast She won Class A in the Honolulu race.

Fling a 36’ cold molded sloop built in Germany alongside Warrior.

Wildflower a 50 dagger board boat for the late Randy Scarbough she is still sailing and I last saw her Beaton’s.

For years he was the designer to go to under the IOR rule.

In 1969 Bill Flicker asked him to improve on the 1967 AC defender Intrepid which went on to defend in 1970 beating the Australian challengers.

Barron Bic commission Brit to design him a trail horse for his challenge in 1970 and he liked it so much he call it Chancegger.

This led to more 12 Meter involvement over the years, but he is best known for his success as a key member of the Stars and Strips design team which included Bruce Nelson and David Pedrick.

Brit was recruited for the team by DC for his expertise in computers and fluid dynamics. He was the designer who could talk the talk to the engineers from companies like SAIC, Boeing and Cray computers. Britt did extensive work on our foils and wings.

His cup contribution continued in 1988 with his work in the design of the Catamaran for Dennis defense that year against the challenge of Michael Fay’s Kiwi maxi boat.

He played a leading role in the formation of the IACC Class for future cup racing after 1992.
While doing all this he became interested in rowing and started rowing competitively and, as in sailing, this led to designing racing shells. He has designed recreational shells along with shells that have won Olympic and world championships.

Lately Britt has been teaching in the engineering departments at Yale, Wesleyan and Trinity Colleges where he offers an all-encompassing course on the physics of sailing.

It is my pleasure to welcome Britton Chance Jr. into the BBHOF a well-deserved honor in light of all his contributions to the sport of sailing.

The Publisher

Oct 16, 2012, 10:26 AM

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From Karl Kirkman:
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Britton Chance, Jr. Brit was a complex and many-faceted individual who aroused strong opinions, but his designs were some of the most unusual and innovative of his time and we were richer for having him.

He never wavered in his interest in using the latest engineering tools available to him to try achieving breakthrough designs, and from time to time was probably betrayed by some of them.

From D. Randy West, St. Barth:
I'm terribly sorry to hear of the passing of Brit Chance. Kudos to him for also designing such wild and wonderful boats that I experienced: The maxi yawl, centerboard "Inverness" ex "Equation", the centerboard, 2 tonner yawl "Pleides", and the 21st century Harken concept sloop "Amaco Procyon" The man was the cutting edge of innovation.

The Publisher

Oct 17, 2012, 7:47 AM

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From Gregory Scott:
In my earliest days in the marine industry I came to be aware of Britt Chance. Like I did with motor racing, it was via that wonderful vehicle - the glossy magazine. While archaic in timeliness by today's standards, l learned of his great design skills and became inspired to learn and develop my own skills..Britt with his cool name and great flare was a true "rock star" and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for showing us a path.

From Scott Kaufman:
Very sorry to hear of Britt's passing. In 1967 I sailed in the Fastnet race with Britt on a German One Tonner. When the wind went very light, Britt disappeared into the bow and pressurized a device to exude Polyox from tiny tubes to improve the laminar flow over the hull. I'm not sure it made much difference to our speed but this was typical of Britt...always working on some idea to gain an advantage. He took things to the design edge. Chines were a way to maximize a dimension. Rules were made to be stretched. But he came up with some amazing original designs. He will be missed.

From Rodger Martin:
Patty & I were sad to hear on Friday, that Brit had died. He was an inspiration to me and a hero!

I worked on Equation (later Sorcery III under Jim Baldwin and Rattlesnake with the Annapolis Academy) and she was a model for slim, fast, light (for her time) beachable boats. Well ahead of her time as a well-behaved, safe, seaworthy boat when other IOR boats were not. She was a 68' round-bottomed sharpie with a 68' mainmast. I often wondered if Britt was a follower of Commodore Ralph Munroe's writings. She was the first big boat in which we sailed often and easily above her hull speed at 13-25 knots in 25 knots of wind. I wondered why nobody else seemed to notice!

Britt was a brilliant and technically-sophisticated designer. His wonderfully-precise engineering drawings for Mariner & Equation in the drawing files at Dercktor's where I worked in the '70s were very impressive.

One image I have of him was of his arrival at a party in a big tent after the first day of the Newport Sailboat Show in the early eighties, where he swept in, adeptly snatched a rum & something from a table at the entrance and marched, with the assured intent of someone who Knew His Stuff towards the far end of the tent! I was impressed! I wanted to make this life mine!

A quiet & genius hero missed.

The Publisher

Oct 18, 2012, 6:18 AM

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From Bob Austin-LaFrance:
Like many I was saddened by the news of Britt Chance's passing. This past Saturday I had a wonderful way to reflect on the man, the myth, and the legend - I raced the Thunder Mug out of Duck Island YC, CT. on the Chance Custom (31.55') Arabesque.

To put things in perspective, I was intimately involved in building this distinctive, dark blue IOR racer 30 years ago in a garage in Bozrah, CT. Thank you Jonathon Lathrop! She has been scrupulously maintained by her current owner, Bob Bruno, and could pass for a brand new, albeit a strange design... blooper included.

At the end of the day Saturday, Arabesque won her class, sealing a first in class for the 2012 season, Eastern CT Sailing Assoc. Thanks Britt for 30 years of magic and memories - what a legacy!

The Publisher

Oct 18, 2012, 5:26 PM

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From James Gretzky, NA:
I was lucky to get to work closely with Britt Chance in my role as the Technical Manager for the PACT Program in 1991-92. We had some of the best and brightest minds working with us from inside and outside yacht design including folks at Boeing and Britt was one of our core people. He was always pushing and looking at new design tools and techniques.

Long before Google, he was using the internet to search for technical journals and studies that might have an application in yacht design. Not only did he find them but he devoured them. After one meeting in Baltimore, Britt and I made a trip to Philly to see the Boeing wind tunnel facility and he was all fired up on what they could do for us.

Designs - there really are too many fine ones to count. Even the ones that didn’t turn out as expected still had more innovation then anyone ever realized! You have to push the envelope if you want to succeed and boy could he push! That was Britt - always looking outside the box. Hats off to you and I hope the fly fishing is good up there!

The Publisher

Oct 19, 2012, 5:11 AM

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By John Longley
Very sad to hear of the passing of Britt Chance (in Scuttlebutt 3697). He was a terrific bloke and a lateral thinker in the mode of Ben Lexcen.

After the 1988 Deed of Gift America's Cup, I was put in charge of running the first Cup Protocol that had been signed by the then existing and past Trustees of the Cup - NYYC, RPYC, SDYC and the current Challenger RYNZ.

One of the tasks was to decide on the class for the next match. Twelve metres remained in the frame (John Marshall was opting for a bigger rig) and the catamaran world was knocking on our door. But a group of us decided we needed a new class. That group was Derek Clarke from the UK, Iain Murray, Tom Ehman and Britt Chance. Ken MacAlpine provided the technical expertise and I pulled the project together.

The culmination of our efforts was a meeting in Southampton to which every recognized America's Cup designer in the world was invited and most came. The rules of engagement were simple: You had to pay your own way, no fees, and you had to come for the whole 5 days.

At the end of what was an incredibly exciting, creative week, Rob Humphries was charged with designing the first IACC yacht which he did on the Thursday night. This design was tested at the Wolfson tank in Southampton and all attendees were subsequently given the lines and the test results.

The line in the sand had been drawn and the gun fired. One hundred one of these yachts were subsequently built over the next 18 years with their era ending in the final race of the 2007 match when Alinghi beat the Kiwis by one second.

Britt Chance was right in the thick of it. All week long he was running around lobbying everyone who would talk to him for elements of the class that he supported. He was always pushing the edge, for example he was a strong advocate of carbon spars when at the time many felt it was one step too far - seems weird from this distance but it was a major discussion point at the time.

Interesting to reflect on all this just after watching the sad sight of the Oracle 72 slowly being destroyed by the Bay ebb tide.

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