A racing boat built by an innovative engineer
Shazaam is only 36 feet long but more than able in open water.
“She’s the boat I won the most ocean races with,” islander Andy Green said.
Green built the boat, and 2,800 others, over his long career. He’s a pioneering engineer who designed airframes and racing cars and developed innovations that transformed the way automobiles are manufactured.
His abiding interest, however, has always been sailboat racing.
Green studied structural engineering at Lamar University in Beaumont and in 1954 went to work at Bethlehem Steel Corp. in Beaumont where he helped design the first offshore mobile oil-drilling platform.
In 1955, though, at a new job with Convair Aircraft Co. in Fort Worth, later part of General Dynamics Corp., he encountered the material that would mark his future, and the future of manufacturing.
“I joined a staff of about 3,800 engineers working on airframes,” Green said. “Since I was the new kid on the block, I was put to work analyzing composites, which were then regarded as superficial elements in aircraft, just ‘paint and bed sheets.’
“There was no published data on them at that time, so I went around the country to learn from people who were working with composites.”
Composites are materials such as glass or carbon fiber that when woven, matted or fused in combination, are stronger than either alone, Green said. He became an expert in the materials and saw their structural potential.
“I became the guy to see about composites,” Green said.
After eight years with General Dynamics, Green launched his own company, PlasTrend Corp., to provide structural composites for the building industry.
At age 36, Green joined Ted Turner, founder of CNN and a famous racing sailer, to compete in the 1968 Olympic sailing trials in a 20-foot, two-person, Flying Dutchman class boat.
“The first boat I ever built was a Flying Dutchman,” Green said.
Turner and Green then turned to ocean racing, and Green designed and built something new for that. The Phoenix, a 32-foot fin-keeled sloop, was built at Green’s shop off Teichman Road on Offatts Bayou in Galveston. The scale test model still hangs in his bayside island home.
Phoenix proved an able competitor in many ocean races, especially in light air, when she could ghost through the fleet of bigger boats to win.
Shazaam, a Carter 36 built in 1973, embodies Green’s innovations in structure and materials.
The boat has two transverse bulkheads, fiberglass-coated stringers running fore and aft and integral flooring. It’s encased in a “stressed skin” body and engineered to distribute the load of mast, stays and shrouds throughout the entire structure. The hull is strong and light, with about half the weight concentrated in a deep fin keel.
Green sailed Shazaam in the Texas Ocean Racing Circuit. She was a consistent winner. Her second course record in the Harvest Moon Regatta — Galveston to Port Aransas — still stands.
In 1973, Green contracted to design a Gran Prix racing car for Lee Iacocca at Ford Motor Co. Working on a tight deadline, he rethought the chassis design, using a “stressed skin” unitary platform. The result was a lighter, stronger body far more rigid than older designs.
For the first time, American cars began to win Grand Prix races. His basic design is now universally used in racing cars and commercial automobiles.
A few years ago, Green donated Shazaam to Sea Star Base Galveston for its community sailing program.
A fit 86 with a strong handshake, Green no longer sails in ocean races, but early in the morning, six days a week, he sets out in his rowboat onto Galveston Bay.