Lars Halvorsen, a father of a Norwegian family of seven (five boys) with Viking blood in their heritage and only pennies in their pockets, migrated to Sydney via South Africa when he was thirty-seven years of age. But Lars already had a formidable bank of boat building knowledge and skills, tremendous energy and a dedication to hard work. `he arrived alone in late 1924. Within weeks when he had established a beachhead, he was able to send for his wife and children.
He was already commissioned to build a 9 metre yacht. Working eighty hours a week on that job with his eldest son, Harold (fourteen) beside him, he had the vessel launched, complete, in mid-1925. Sydney yachtsman saw the quality of work and the cascade of orders followed for dinghies, skiffs, launches and yachts.
All of the Halvorsen sons, as they grew, learned the trade from their father and inherited his eye for design and the characteristics of a boat’s behaviour in various conditions according to its shape. Later they added the scientific study of naval architecture and engineering. Science apart, they could look at a boat out of the water and tell you almost at a glance what to expect of her.
They also learned to respect their father’s devotion to the Lutheran Church, his occasional role as a lay preacher, and his spontaneous generosity to lone Scandinavians, especially those who needed a helping hand.
The sons and their two sisters worshipped their mother, Bergithe, a wise and patient matriarch who, with her husband, taught them that honesty was the path to follow for peace of mind and success in life.
And success most certainly came for them.
Lars Halvorsen Sons became a byword for a good job well done. Sound business sense and intelligent recognition of opportunities to develop and divert their efforts, according to the ebb and flow of financial tides, sustained them and the next generation of this admirable tribe.
This was an extract from 'Wooden Boats, Iron Men. The Halvorsen Story' By Randi Svensen