Svend Svendsen, a Danish immigrant who founded a boatyard that he grew into one of the largest repair and supply businesses on the West Coast, died Monday at home in Alameda, Calif.
The founder and proprietor of Svendsen's Boat Works died of pancreatic cancer, according to his family. He was 81.
Svendsen, who emigrated to the United States in 1955, was a fifth-generation boatbuilder, according to a 2010 profile in Oakland Magazine. A Bay Area sailing legend, he was a member of the St. Francis Yacht Club and was considered the unofficial “Godfather of the Folkboat Fleet” on San Francisco Bay.
By the late 1960s he had his own boatyard, and in 1975 he constructed the world’s first Nordic Folkboat with a fiberglass hull. These Svendsen-built boats were instrumental in keeping the class competitive on San Francisco Bay.
As a tribute, Svendsen’s son, Sean, who now runs the family boatyard, has invited the Woodies fleets to participate in a sailing memorial to his father on Sunday before the Woodies Invitational regatta races.
A memorial will be held for Svendsen at 2 p.m. June 15 at the Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda.
“Svend was best known for his good nature, charisma and charm, and for the friendship he bestowed upon all who crossed his path,” reads an obituary published online by the sailing website Pressure Drop. “Svend had verve and panache and was a lover of life. He will also be missed by his employees, whom he treated with the utmost respect and loyalty. Svend will be remembered by all for the positive influence he had on his community and the world around him.”