Hunter Marine Corp. founder Warren Luhrs has died after suffering an unexpected heart attack September 18. He was 69 years old.
Luhrs began in the boatbuilding business with his father, Henry, and brother, John, at Henry Luhrs Sea Skiffs. The first Hunter sailboat, the Hunter 25 designed by John Cherubini, was launched in 1973.
Luhrs was still working with the St. Augustine Marine Center, his one remaining business after Hunter Marine and the Luhrs Marine Group, which included Mainship and Silverton, declared bankruptcy.
According to past Luhrs president Roger Yarborough, Warren Luhrs spent as much time as possible with his wife and eight children. He also spent a lot of time at his businesses, addressing the majority of workers by their first name.
“He was very well-respected and well-liked,” Yarborough said. “He walked the floor. He was a very hands-on person. He was a very creative, very innovative man. He had great integrity and had a structure about his life that demanded integrity from himself and people around him. He surrounded himself with people who were honest with him.”
Luhrs became involved in singlehanded ocean racing and set many records aboard Thursday’s Child and Hunter’s Child. These designs inspired many innovations that appeared in Hunter production models, including B&R rigs, arches and water ballast.
Thursday’s Child, an Open 60-foot ultralight singlehanded ocean racer, was designed by Paul Linderburg and built in 1983. In 1984, Luhrs set the boat’s first record in the Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) from Plymouth, England to Newport, Rhode Island in 16 days and 22 hours.
In 1988 and 1989, Luhrs sailed Thursday’s Child from New York around Cape Horn and into San Francisco Bay. It took him 80 days and 20 hours, creating a new record for the first time in 135 years.
A revised 60-foot boat called Hunter’s Child was built in the early 90s and raced in the 1994-1995 BOC race. Skipper Steve Pettengill and Hunter’s Child came in second place after completing the race in 128 days.