Henk Wiekens, who helped transform Pendennis from a one-location sailing-superyacht shipyard into a multi-national builder, refitter, and restorer, died suddenly on October 19. His age is unknown.
“Words cannot express what a hole this leaves in the Pendennis family,” a statement from the shipyard reads. It credits him with not just growing the company, but also inspiring “generations of talent from all areas of the marine industry.”
Wiekens’ yachting career dated back decades. Having worked as an engineer, he initially managed his own new-build yards in The Netherlands and New Zealand. After 12 years in this capacity, he joined Pendennis in 1988. The then-local builder had moved to Falmouth Docks that year, under the ownership of entrepreneur and yachtsman Peter de Savary. The Docks had been a base for de Savary’s America’s Cup challenge that same year. Afterwards, de Savary identified an opportunity to construct sailing superyachts there, to compete against Dutch builders. Wiekens and Mike Carr, currently Pendennis’ joint managing director and then part of the management team, bought the shipyard from de Savary in 1993.
Fittingly, the same day that Wiekens and Carr officially took over the yard, the Pendennis team signed the contract to restore the famed schooner Adela. Not coincidentally, the 170-foot (51.8-meter) Adela returned to Pendennis multiple times in the ensuing decades.
Meanwhile, Pendennis’ first significant new build under Wiekens and Carr was a custom ketch for an American owner. Taramber, which splashed in 1991, measured 125 feet (38 meters), with naval architecture by the late Ed Dubois. She was the first of many projects between Pendennis and the designer. (The yacht is still cruising today, as La Cattiva.) Next up came the refit of the three-masted sailing yacht Adix, a 228-footer (69.5-meter) that the shipyard credits as the one putting it on the global map.
Equally noteworthy, Pendennis was quite a small company when Wiekens and Carr took over. Specifically, about 70 to 80 craftspeople worked on site. Today, upwards of 450 tradespeople have jobs, and a thriving apprenticeship program trains more. Additionally, about 30 new builds, including motoryachts, have launched from its Falmouth location. Pendennis also expanded into Europe, with two service and refit sites, in Palma and Barcelona. In total, about 300 refits have passed through its various sheds in the UK and Spain.
“Henk was so proud and felt privileged to have worked with so many wonderful people over the years,” the shipyard statement adds. It notes his “love for life, energy, and endless enthusiasm,” too, concluding, “Our thoughts are with his much-loved family.”