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Industry mourns Bremen Sails founder

Acclaimed sailmaker and lifelong sailor Frederick Alvin Bremen Sr. of Palm Bay, Fla., died Sept. 13 at the age of 89.

The New Yorker joined the state’s apprenticeship program with the renowned sailmaking firm Ratsey and Lapthorne, ultimately moving the family to Miami to open a Ratsey sail loft there.

When that business closed, he opened Fred A. Bremen Sailmakers, a business he eventually ran with first one and eventually two of his sons. He retired from that career when he moved to Florida in 1981.

Bremen Sails is still run by his son Tom and daughter-in-law Jill.

As a sailor, Fred had many achievements and won many championships, but his proudest moments involved his relationships with young people and helping them achieve their dreams through the perfect sail and years of sailing experience, reads his online obituary.

He was instrumental in starting the International Optimist Dinghy Sailing Program, and young sailors from around the world clamored to own a genuine Bremen Sail. Perhaps none was as distinctive or memorable as the bright pink sail framed with red hearts that he made for his only granddaughter, Mandy, an international champion herself.

In 1972, rather than take a long-planned trip to Hawaii for their 25th wedding anniversary, Fred and his wife, Gerry, instead purchased a 15-foot Dutch Craft travel trailer and a sky-blue Ford pickup truck and set off to “look for America.”

“Fred was a great friend with tremendous knowledge and talent. He always had something new to teach me. He was giving and kind and will be sorely missed,” Jeff McKnight, commodore of the non-profit Malabar Mariners Association, wrote in the online remembrances. “Thanks for the great memories and contribution to my life, and also to the Malabar Mariners — you have touched us all. Peaceful sails my friend.”

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