Brilliant (schooner)

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Brilliant (schooner).jpg
United States
Owner: Mystic Seaport
Builder: Henry B. Nevins, Inc.
Yard number: City Island, Bronx
Completed: 1932
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Tonnage: 30
Length: 61 ft 6 in (18.75 m)
Beam: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
Height: 81 ft (25 m)
Draft: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Installed power: Sail, Diesel Engine
Propulsion: Detroit Diesel 353
Sail plan: Schooner
Capacity: 12

Brilliant is a schooner located at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, United States. Brilliant was built in 1932 on City Island, Bronx, by Henry B. Nevins Yard to a design by Olin Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens for Walter Barnum. Brilliant was built as an ocean racing yacht, and on her maiden voyage crossed the Atlantic Ocean in just over 15 days, 1 hour and 23 minutes,[1] a record for a sailing yacht of her size. Brilliant ran from Nantucket Lightship to Bishop Rock Light, England.[2]

According to the Sparkman & Stephens blog,[3] Brilliant was designed to a "rigorous" standard.

During World War II, the schooner was acquired by the U.S. Coast Guard and used to patrol the New England coast for enemy submarines. During this time, two machine guns were mounted on Brilliant's deck.

After the war, Brilliant was purchased by the accomplished sailor Briggs Cunningham, who attempted to increase her speed by outfitting her with a larger rig. The new rig consisted of taller masts, a self-tacking forestaysail, and a Bermuda-mainsail, replacing the original gaff main. During this time, Cunningham also invented what became known as the cunningham, a tie-down for the tack (the lower, forward corner of the mainsail) that allows the sail to maintain a more efficient shape. This makes Brilliant the first boat to have the device, now standard on racing boats of all sizes.[citation needed] Despite his modifications, Cunningham was unable to significantly improve the Brilliant's speed and he donated her to Mystic Seaport in 1957.

Mystic Seaport now uses her as an offshore classroom and features her as part of their collection of watercraft.[4] This use was a requirement of Cunningham's gift to Mystic Seaport.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BRILLIANT: Auxiliary Schooner". Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  2. ^ "BRILLIANT: Auxiliary Schooner". Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Design 12- Brilliant". Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Brilliant - Auxiliary Schooner". Mystic Seaport. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  5. ^ "BRILLIANT: Auxiliary Schooner". Retrieved 21 April 2014.

Coordinates: 41°21′45″N 71°57′55″W / 41.36250°N 71.96528°W / 41.36250; -71.96528