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Jim Brown and his wife, Jo Anna, were the first to go to sea in a modern trimaran, their Piver-designed Nugget, in 1959.
Unlike many of the early multihull enthusiasts, Jim entered the field with a wide back ground in traditional, ballasted boats. Beginning sailing as a teenager on Long Island Sound in a 50-foot sloop, he sailed in many fine yachts and eventually served as mate in a 150-foot Caribbean charter schooner. Several close calls in that experience made him receptive to the nonballasted, unsinkable multihull, and then began designing trimarans in 1963. With no formal design training, but with a firm empirical grasp of the requirements of a good sea boat, he has devoted full time to designing, writing, and sailing for nearly 20 years. Completely self-taught, he specializes in cruising trimarans designed to be built by their owners. His Searunner series has attracted more than a thousand owner-builder clients, each of whom receives a graphic apprenticeship in backyard boatbuilding through the pages of his Searunner Construction Manual.
Jim has sailed far and wide in his designs, but he regards his most formative voyage to be the three-year Central American cruise made in the early 1970s with his wife and two sons aboard their 31-foot trimaran cutter Scrimshaw.
The Browns now reside in the Tidewater area of southern Virginia, where Jim has developed a method of simplified boatbuilding for the introduction of low-cost, high-performance, sailing, working trimarans in Third World nations.