UA-8412995-1 The Southport Globe: The Schooner Yacht Brilliant

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Schooner Yacht Brilliant

If you’ve spent any time on the waters of Long Island Sound in the last 50 years, chances are you’ll have crossed paths, wakes or tacks with one of the more elegant and beautiful wooden sailing yachts afloat – the Schooner Yacht Brilliant. She was designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built by the Henry B. Nevins Shipyard in City Island, NY for Walter Barnum. Barnum specified the very finest materials for his yacht so she would be capable of a voyage around the world. Measuring 61’ 6” LOA with a 14’ 8” beam and a 9’ draft, her teak on oak frame construction was roomy and fast and, as it turns out, substantial. Her very first refit only took place in 2007, when her teak deck was replaced. Shortly after her launch in 1932 she set a record for vessels of her size, running from Nantucket Lightship to Bishop Rock Light, England in 15 days, 1 hour and 23 minutes. Although she entered several Bermuda Races and acquitted herself well, she never managed to win the race to the Onion Patch.

John Mecray, Schooner Yacht Brilliant Oil on Canvas 23” x 48”

In 1940, Barnum sold Brilliant to Henry E. Bodman of Detroit,
MI, who cruised her on the Great Lakes until William W. Spivy bought her in 1942 and donated her to the U.S. Coast Guard, who ran her as part of the World War II antisubmarine “Picket Navy” patrol out of St. Simon’s Island, GA. After the war, flamboyant yachtsman and race car driver Briggs Cunningham bought her at auction, and cruised and raced her for many years out of the Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, CT. Cunningham, the winning skipper in the 1958 America’s Cup, re-rigged her to accommodate larger sails, adding a self-tacking forestaysail and a Bermuda main (replacing the original gaff main). READ MORE:

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