International sports figure and North Sails president Ken Read will be the featured speaker on Saturday as students from the International Yacht Restoration School’s boatbuilding and restoration program launch their careers and the boats they restored this year at the school’s annual Graduation & Launch Day.
Read grew up sailing at the Barrington (R.I.) Yacht Club and became a global name in the sport as a sailmaker and multiple world-class champion, America’s Cup sailor and two-time Volvo Ocean Race skipper for Puma Ocean Racing. He became president of North Sails in January and now works from his office at the IYRS Mill Building.
On Graduation Day, boatbuilding and restoration students will launch a fleet of Beetle Cats, a small 12-foot catboat whose design dates from 1921; an elegant 25-foot twin-cockpit motor launch that has been restored to yacht-quality standards, with teak decks and a double-planked mahogany over a white cedar hull; a Herreshoff Fish-Class sloop, a 20-foot design created in 1916 when Nathanael Herreshoff expanded the lines from his well-known 12-1/2 sailboats; and an 11-foot Class B One-Design frostbite dinghy, a design that was originally produced at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. in the 1930s.
Graduates of the IYRS composites technology and marine systems programs, who matriculated from those six-month programs in February, also will be honored Saturday. Eighty-six percent of the graduates from these programs are now working in the fields they trained for or have continued on to other IYRS programs to round out their training.
Composites technology grads are working with companies on the East Coast, Hawaii and the U.K. that are using composite materials to build structures that include superyachts, custom surfboards and architectural designs. Marine Systems grads are working on-board boats or at marine businesses along the East Coast.
The public is welcome to join Launch Day festivities. Graduation ceremonies begin at at 10 a.m. at the IYRS campus at 449 Thames St. inside Restoration Hall in Newport, R.I. After the indoor portion of the ceremony, the crowd will migrate to the school docks to watch the launching of the fleet.