Industry mourns Lightning class sailboat builder

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Thomas G. Allen III of Amherst, N.Y., an entrepreneur, boatbuilder and champion sailor, died Dec. 6. He was 81.

A passionate lover of the Buffalo Canoe Club and his summer home in Bay Beach, Ontario, Allen will be remembered for his ability to build and sail boats.

In 1961 he founded the Allen Boat Co., in Buffalo, N.Y., where he built sailboats, but most notably, the Lightning class sailboat. His boats initially were built of wood, but over time their construction switched to fiberglass. He became the largest builder of the Lightning class boat in the world. At the time of his passing, Allen was still affiliated with the company, which is now run by his son, Thomas Allen.

Allen’s sailing record is legendary. He won four Lightning world championships, eight North American Lightning championships, a Flying Dutchman North American championship, the Albacore Nationals and a gold and silver medal in the Pan American Games.

He was an alternate member of the U.S. Olympic Team in the Flying Dutchman class for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Allen was married for 56 years to Anne Smither Allen.

Click here for the full obituary.

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