by Cynthia Goss
On Saturday, June 2 2012, students at IYRS will participate in the school’s unique graduation ceremony. Instead of collecting diplomas that prove hours of learning, students will launch and showcase the boats they spent the past year building and restoring. This year, a fleet of classic wooden boats will stand side-by-side with examples of modern composite construction, reflecting the breadth of programming now established at the school’s two campuses in Newport and Bristol.
First-year students in the Boatbuilding & Restoration program’s Class of 2011 launch their 12-foot Beetle Cat off the IYRS docks. The design of these iconic catboats dates to 1921; each year, IYRS first-year students work in teams of two to transform a Beetle Cat from a derelict state into a fully restored and gleaming craft ready to be returned to the water.
The public is welcome to join Launch Day festivities and see the fine craftsmanship produced by students in the school’s three programs in Boatbuilding and Restoration, Marine Systems and Composites Technology. Graduation ceremonies begin at the IYRS Newport campus (449 Thames Street) at 10:00 am inside Restoration Hall. After the inside portion of the ceremony, the crowd will migrate to the school docks to inspect the students’ work and witness the launching of the fleet.
Boatbuilding and Restoration students will launch a fleet of Beetle Cats, a small 12-foot catboat whose design dates to 1921; a 26-foot Maine-style open lobster boat originally built in 1941 by the Hodgdon Brothers of Maine; a Herreshoff Watch Hill 15; and a replica of the 11-foot lapstrake tender originally designed for the legendary S&S yawl Dorade.
Marine Systems students will showcase the refit work they did this year on the 23-foot classic motor launch Renegade. This year’s Composites Technology class worked on the construction of two Moths, a diminutive single-handed hydrofoil that is one of the fastest sailboats on the planet.
Students will hear from featured graduation speaker Richard Downs-Honey of SP-High Modulus (Bristol, R.I.). A leading figure in the composite boatbuilding industry, Downs-Honey has been involved with seminal projects that define the leading edge in the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, and other offshore contests; in projects that define the state of the art in superyacht construction, such as the building of the 247-foot Mirabella; and in the building of production powerboats and military patrol boats. SP-High Modulus, the marine division of Gurit, is a leading manufacturer and supplier of composite materials to the global boatbuilding market.
IYRS students in the Boatbuilding & Restoration program's Class of 2011 prepare to set sail in the 16-foot Herreshoff 12.5 sailboat they restored during the school term.
IYRS attracts an international class of students each year to its three full-time programs. This year, students from 10 states, the Cayman Islands, France and the United Kingdom are launching their careers as craftsmen and skilled technicians on Launch Day (see list of student hometowns, below).
IYRS is a marine trades and technology school based in Rhode Island that trains individuals for careers in the marine industry and associated fields that utilize wood- and composites-building technology. The school trains craftsmen and skilled technicians through three full-time programs in Boatbuilding and Restoration, Marine Systems and Composites Technology. The school maintains two campuses in Newport and Bristol, and each locale is uniquely suited to the programs offered there.
The waterfront campus in Newport is home to the Boatbuilding and Restoration Program and includes two historic buildings from 1831 and 1903 and the restoration of the rare 1885 chooner yacht Coronet. The Bristol teaching facility is home to the Marine Systems and Composites Technology programs and is located at the Franklin Street Marine Corridor, an industrial/educational complex where students mix with marine-industry companies.
IYRS Class of 2012 – Hometowns: California (Stockton, Wildomar), Connecticut (Branford, Burlington, Niantic, Portland), Illinois (Chicago), Iowa (Cumming), Maryland (Potomac), Massachusetts (Andover, Charlestown, Fall River, Gloucester, Milton, Nantucket, S. Dartmouth, Swansea, W. Roxbury), New York (Rye), Pennsylvania (Pequea, Wayne), Rhode Island (Cranston, Jamestown, Newport, North Kingston, Portsmouth, Tiverton), Washington (Gig Harbor), Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman), France (Rueil Malmaison), UK (London)