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Thomas G. Allen, III 1931-2012

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#1 JustNuts



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Posted 09 December 2012 - 06:53 PM

from the lightning class site... condolences to the family - Tom was a great man.

It is with great sadness that we share with you of the passing of Thomas Allen, III
On December 6, 2012 the Lightning Class lost a great legend. Allen, better known as Tom Senior, was a champion on and off the race course. He changed the fabric of our class as founder of the Allen Boat Company. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Allen family during this time.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, December 15, at 10:30 AM at
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church,
4007 Main St, Amherst, New York 14226





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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:43 PM

yep....Good man!

Had a lot of fun with that guy.

#3 dcbsheb



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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:52 PM

This is an excerpt from a eulogy his grandaughter posted on facebook. It just gives a glimpse of some of his accomplishments:

"The world lost a legend yesterday.
He was a Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame member
He was a 4 time Lightning World Champion and 8 time Lightning North American Champion
He was 5 time Lightning Canadian Open Champion, and I have no Idea how many other regattas he won or how many first place flags he earned.
He was a gold and a silver medalist in the Pan Am games,
He was a 1968 Olympian,
He was a Champion in the Albacore and Flying Dutchman fleets,
He was an assistant to the 1996 Olympic team,
He was in the Navy
He was a man who had a heart attack, on the water, near the end of a race he was doing well in...not only did he not die, but one of the first things he asked the doc was when he could get back to sailing.
He was a man who started his own business doing something he loved, and made a life-long career out of it."

#4 jewing



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Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:38 AM

He was a legend and a rock of the Lightning class. One shouldn't forget the number of Allen boats (shop started by him, continued by his son Tom "Junior") that have won at all levels. The strength of the class today is in no small part testament to him, and his family.

Fair winds and following seas, with the occasional bullet flag at the end. RIP.

#5 12345



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:13 PM

I had the pleasure to meet him while racing Lightnings in the 90's.

Good man.

#6 Tucky



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:43 PM

Never met him, and never sailed a Lightning, but the heartfelt tribute from his Granddaughter is wonderful, and worth reading in the link above. Condolences to all.

#7 Rasputin22



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:56 PM

Sorry to hear, RIP. I noted the reference to his heart attack during a race and found that too similar to another noted dinghy builder, Bob Hoare. I just made a post in the Flying Dutchman thread, but thought I'd add it here too as Tom and Bob must have been cut from the same cloth.

Bob Hoare – a Loss of One of My Childhood Heroes…..

Posted on September 9, 2012

It is with great sadness that Parkstone Flying Fifteens have to report that Bob Hoare collapsed and died when in the lead during our Friday evening Club race at Parkstone on 7 September.

Bob had been sailing in the Parkstone Flying Fifteen fleet since its inception. He has been a major figure in the dinghy racing world both as a boatbuilder and as a competitor. He built Olympic Gold winning Flying Dutchmen and championship winning Merlin Rockets. Bob first sailed a Merlin in 1953, was Merlin National Champion in 1960 and also had successes at international level in Flying Dutchmen.

In recent years he has competed regularly in our Club races with his wife, Tessa. He has always been a competitive and canny sailor and he was a force to be reckoned with to the last.

Our condolences go to Tessa and to their family. Bob will be much missed.

#8 Kirwan



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:05 PM

Truely one of the good guys. My proudest day as a racer was the one time I finished in front of him.

We broke the mast and deck on an Allen Lightning at the NA's in Buffalo one year (a few decades ago). Spent the night in his shop fixing the mast partner, and rigged a new stick in the morning. Cool trick, one very lonnng batton with strings at the right places; fish them out, tie the halyards, and string all 4 internal lines in one shot when the batton was pulled out. Went from turtled and broken to the starting line in under 24 hours. He managed to help us with the repairs while still competing, even though we were way back in the fleet.

I bought a boat from him... and it was a good one - that I didn't win many races with it was all my fault.

Fair winds, Tom Sr.

#9 Andy's



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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:11 PM

I never met him and have never set foot in a Lightning, but Tom Allens reputation was legendary, one of the great one design sailors. Sad when a character like this isn't around any more, but they are never forgotten.
From a sunny Auckland, NZ

#10 Hike, Bitches!

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:47 AM

I met Tom Allen Sr. at a Lightning event or three. Great man. The Allen's make pretty nice boats too.

Sail on, good sir.

#11 PeterHuston



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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:39 AM

I thought i'd add a bit more flavor to the front page article. i had known TA was not well, but did not know he passed away until The Ed pinged me on Friday and asked me to write something. Having grown up around him, and learned a ton from him, it was an honor to be asked to get something up on the home page for him.

Yes, he was a brilliant sailor, but his brilliance came in a different way than most. As he's about 30 years older than I am, I obviously wasn't around in the early days, but he had such a long run that I certainly got to see him at his best at a time in my life when it all started to make sense.

I only heard the stories about the Finn trials, and never really talked to him about what happened in '60, but those from our bay that had talked him say it was the one time he was probably truly screwed out of a regatta by a protest. As I understand it, it had nothing to do with him either. But, true to form, he never bitched about it. He absolutely subscribed to the Henry Ford motto of "never complain, never explain".

I did get to see his FD '72 Olympic trials upclose as they were held at the Canoe Club. It was an awesome fleet, 30 some boats, and full ot talent. I was in my early teens, so don't remember all the details, but I do remember following the home town favorite every day. Our beach house was literally steps away from the club, and the regatta was at the end of June, so I was out of school with nothing to do except soak up everything I could about the regatta. TA had Bill Bergantz as a crew, and they were in a position to win, with two races left, and in the second to last race they broke the topping lift. That was the difference in going to the Olympics or not. I remember being with Bill, alone, at the boat the day they broke down. TA never complained, they just to to work fixing it.

During the 70's TZ was still pretty much on top of his game in basically any boat he sailed. He'd jump in an Albocore on occasion, but he left that class to Bill Shore, who was living in Buffalo at the time and working for him. The two boats he spent the most time in were Lightnings and FD's. In Lightnings, Bruce Goldsmith had a hot hand for three years running, but TA was always in the hunt. Always.

He still stayed in the FD class, and made another run at the '76 Games. The Canoe Club hosted the '75 FD Worlds, which was an incredible experience for the club, and all of us around it, because the greats like the Rodney Pattison, the Pajots and Diesch's all game. TA wasn't really in the hunt at the top of that class, because by then the FD class, and probably Finns and Solings were at the start of fully funded governmental teams - I distinctly remember the French coming with a Tornado that they had turned into a camera boat, taking film of the races for coaching purposes. It was amazing the US stayed as competitive in the FD as long as we did.

TA sailed with Peter Jones in the '76 FD Trials in Ass Island, but they didn't win - Norm Freeman and Jack Mathias, who is also from the Canoe Club did. So what did TA do next. He found a Tempesta, and sailed it every day for a couple of weeks, and then sailed in the Tempest trials, I think finishing third to DC (who had also sailed Lightnings, crewing for Carl Eichenlaub in the early '60s), and maybe Don Cohan, but memory is exactly clear on that one. That was just one glaring example of his versatility and adaptability within classes other than Lightnings.

Then in the summer of '77 the Lightning World's were going to be in Lake Thun, Switzerland, a tiny mountain lake. TA was always the sort of guy that tinkered around with the boat, and sails, as the tolerances in Lightning's are wide enough to make a difference. That's really where I learned the most from him, was how to look at things in the context of expected conditions, and the various factors you had as a sailor, given crew weight ect.

So for several weeks before the World that summer, TA would be out sailing in the bay, testing sails. I spent 4 or 5 days with him just the two of us, going upwind in flat water, looking at jibs mostly, and main leech shapes. He had a sail loft in Crystal Beach, at the other end of the bay from the club, and after a couple of hours, he's go back an recut a jib, and we'd look at it after lunch. A couple of those jibs had more pin holes in the seams than seam by the end of the week. Ultimately, he picked a really flat jib and main combination, and utterly dominated that worlds, winning at least 4 races that I remember, with his son Tommy and daughter Brenda as crew.

As I mentioned in my front page piece, he really was a very quiet guy, but you could always tell he was focused and thinking. He was pretty big on simplicity. In a day when people were really starting to trick out their boats, he'd just sail with the very simple and standard deck layout. Funny thing, you look at the people like Larry MacDonald and David Starck who are frequently on top, and their boats are equally as simple.

From that sort of thing, the legions of us that were around him learned pretty quickly what mattered most. Obviously, for a very long time, he did it far better than most. And even as the years past, he still had it when he wanted to. It probably wasn't all that long ago (maybe 10 years), but I remember Bruce Heine sailing with him in a regatta, they had been up and down all weekend. Not much was said between races, or during races for that matter. But just before the start of the last race, TA just looked at Bruce and said "let's get a bullet now". They won the race going away. He had the ability to just turn it on at will.

If you haven't spent any time around the Canoe Club, or the Lightning Class, it is probably hard to really hard to understand the impact his presence had on the group. TA was a very quiet guy, probably a classic introvert. Hardly the bigger than life personality of some of his contemporaries, but his quiet dignified manner spoke volumes. He set a standard for a very long time that forced all of us around him to get better, and to this day that standard still exists.

For those of us who grew up in his shadow, it was such a benefit to be around a guy who just elevated all of our games in a wide variety of ways. There is no doubt that the experiences I have had in the sport everywhere else, and to a large extent how that has rubbed off other aspects of my life, is due largely to the fact I had the good fortune to be raised in a time and place where I had unlimited access to such talent, who let you learn if you were willing to be patient and pay the price.

Thanks TA. You were a master of the sport, in all respects, a winner on and off the water.

#12 Gouvernail



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Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:56 AM

In 1962 the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club hosted a n event for Lightnings called the First Annual Cornball Regatta. One of the rules was, "All protests had to be filed in advance on the inside bottom of an unopened beer can."
I asked my Snipe sailor / RC helper for the weekend Dad about that rule and he told me it didn't matter because of two reasons.
1. The regatta was supposed to be a totally fun event and it wans't a qualifier for any nationals or anything like that.
2. The guy from Buffalo Canoe Club would win no matter what.

82 Lightnings showed up and I sailed out near the course to watch from my Optimist. One boat seemed to have a lousy start in every race and then sail through the fleet and be way ahead by the end of each race. I was pretty well convinced that skipper guy was the best sailor I had ever seen.

Of course it was Tom Allen

#13 Bunch of Weenies

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 07:18 AM

Tom was a great guy. Generous to fault, put us up at his place at the beach a bunch of times at regattas. He came to all of our local Flying Beaver regattas over the years to support the fleet. My condolences go out to Tom, Jimmy, Anne, Jane and Brenda. Tom sr will be missed!