One-Off Sparkman & Stephens Admirals Cup

Up until now I had only sailed one boat with any kind of pedigree: Brigand the catamaran. That was to change when Jon called me up and invited me to join Jon as first mate aboard Barnacle Bill.


Fat as in phat!

Fat as in phat!

You can tell from the crew photos that this trip was a bit of a giggle. In fact it was a complete scream, but the emphasis, for me at least, was to learn much about navigation. This was due to Jon’s methodical and considered approach to passage planning and sailing, but when you own a boat like Barnacle Bill then you’re going to be a proper sailor, aren’t you? This boat is a real head-turner!


BB is an S+S designed wooden hull racer cruiser (yes, that IS a wooden hull but it has a GRP skin) built in New Zealand to compete in the Admiral’s Cup in 1975. Although she didn’t win it’s a rare thing for BB to be overtaken by your average modern yacht. Even in light winds she can shift, despite weighing 20-odd tonnes.


Tim and Liz

Tim and Liz

This is an excerpt from the previous ownner’s website, who went on to start up Norbaelt Yachts:


His last and most cherished boat, Barnacle Bill, a New Zealand built S&S designed one off Admirals Cup yacht was sold to finance the start up of Nordbaelt yachts. Built from the few remaining Kauri trees the Royal Navy hadn’t cut down in the 19th century. Barnacle Bill competed in the 1975 Admirals Cup representing the RNZYS and subsequently cruised the Pacific for 6 years.


In terms of the other crew members, well, you already know Liz and Tim (above). Liz joined us for a weekend in Guernsey then on down to the Brittany coast, whilst Tim and Sharine sailed with us from Guernsey to Sark. Credit to Sharine, she claims to dislike the water but she put on a brave face if this were true. Linda also flew out to join us in Guernsey and stayed with Jon and myself until the end of the trip. There was a bit of competition in the galley between Linda’s and my Thai green curries because Linda knows how to cook and I’m just competitive!


As it should be

As it should be





11 Comments on “One-Off Sparkman & Stephens Admirals Cup”

  1. Hi,It is great to see that Barnacle Bill is still going strong.
    My father built her in Taupo, New Zealand as a fast cruising boat. We were not experienced sailors,but found the right crew and we were able to sail for New Zealand as part of a three boat team in the 1974 Southern Cross Cup ( Australia ) and the 1975 Admirals Cup in England. In both events she was able to outsail other top boats which had cost significantly more. She had been sold to another person by the time of the Admirals Cup. The new owner had been a famous New Zealand “All Black” ( rugby ) and new nothing about sailing, but kept the same crew. He tragically died at a young age and the boat was sold and went to Hawaii. That was the last I heard until I found Your web site. If you would like to know more about the early history of your boat please feel free to contact me. Kind regards, Graeme.

    1. How wonderful to hear from you, Graham. Barnacle Bill really is one of the greatest boats I have ever sailed, and one of the most beautiful too. On board BB is a framed newspaper cutting from NZ from around the time you refer to. I still have Jon’s contact details so I will endevour to forward your comments and back ground; no doubt he will want to learn more. Thank you for taking the time out to contact us, it’s great to fill in some blanks. Jamie

  2. Hi,

    I was privileged to sail on Barnacle Bill in 1974 and 75 culminating in the 1975 Admirals Cup and the 50th Edition of the Fastnet race.

    The owner was Ron Jarden a very famous All Black of the 1950’s.

    Ron took up sailing with Barnacle Bill and learnt very quickly. He applied his ample energy to grinding in her big genoas.

    He would drive up from Wellington on Friday nights in his Porsche to sail and train on Saturdays.

    Barnacle Bill was skippered by Ray Haslar and the crew included Ron Jarden, Mike McCormick as navigator, Mike Spanhake, Simon Willis, Richard Cleave and myself.

    She was a great yacht and very well built. I recall one time when we needed more room to pack sails below so we cut the forward cabin door in half!

    1. Hi Robert, how fantastic to hear from you! I know Jon reads this blog occasionally so I hope he picks up your stories. Nice to get a bit of background on BB.

  3. Hello Barnacle Bill, My father James Dirksen bought the Yacht after Ron passed away. We inherited the crew and continued racing for N.Z. , my father skippered her in the 1977 Southern cross cup.
    We were on the b team. Barnacle was a little outdated compared to other yachts at that time and we didn’t do so well. Still, the Auckland team kept the cup for N.Z.
    My father retired her from racing and with my mom sister and myself we sailed the south pacific for 2 years before sailing to Australia were we lived for the next 4 years.
    MY father moved to England and after 8 years passed away from cancer. She was sold to, i don’t know. On my Facebook page I’m currently making an Album of the years we had her. I also have tons of News paper articles and the Yacht World magazine when she was built and named Yacht of the year.
    The steps on the mast and the cutter rig was done by my father. Actually a lot of modifications were made before our ocean voyage by my father and my mother too.
    Its great to see her again even if the these pics are from 2004.
    Cheers, Michael Hearn.

    1. How fantastic to hear from you, Michael. We are thrilled that this brought back so many memories for you. I will be contacting John and Linda, the current owners, shortly to tell them about your comments. They have been looking after BB very well. They are experienced sailors who love BB. She’s not a difficult boat to love 😉

  4. Didn’t think i would get a response , so this a nice surprise!
    If you would like to see some pic’s of Barnacle, when it our turn, i have some on my facebook page. Just look my name up, Michael Hearn. will make those pics public for now. We nick named her Fat Albert, much like the description above, Due to the tumble hull design, lol. I have so much BB articles and pics , its possible more than anyone else. Some pics are before we had her. News paper articles from the Wellington times ( The complete Paper, lots of those, photo copied articles, Yacht club membership cards, from Evens bay and Sydney – Hobart, Log books, oh the list goes on )
    I’ll try to copy as much as possible, maybe create a Barnacle BIll
    Facebook page now that i think about it. 🙂
    Wow what a Joy! I am so glad she’s still Loved and Looked after.

    Can’t wait to hear from you again, Hugs! Mike 485675_2833758943234_1837007985_1699587_106854943_n.jpg

  5. BY the way did you know she has a sister ship. Barnacle was originally a Flush deck but Ron had BB modified with a cabin.
    A second BB was built to original specs and Her name is Seiko.
    We met her in Moorea, I have pics of her as well.
    Cheers MIke

  6. Hi jamie,

    i have just noted the above comments and can’t believe the connections. Jon has just re teaked BB’s decks and re teaked the cockpit. He did the work himself clever boy! Fortunately all was sound underneath. New sails etc. Ready for a trip to NZ when all is complete. Time to take BB home but first a trip to the Baltic and round Britain.

    Can you forward us the contact details of the above contacts. we have to make contact.

  7. Michael,

    Fantastic to hear from you and also Graeme above.

    As Jamie mentions BB is currently owned by my parents Jon and Linda. I know they would love to hear more from both of you.

    I have just tried to track you down on facebook but there seems to be quite a few Michael Hearns so impossible to know which one is you. Would be great if you can send me a link to your facebook page. If you don’t fancy posting on here you could email me (we have Jamie’s email address if you want to email direct, Michael). I have a few nice pics of her on my facebook page.

    Hopefully you will pick this up even though we are a few months behind date of last bpost.

    Cheers
    Jamie

  8. Hi Linda & John what a chance meeting in Dartmouth today! We subsequently have read Barnacle Bill’s “history” and having lived in Taupo in the 70’s and 80’s found it very interesting – as I mentioned my cousin also built a yatch in Taupo and sailed it from NZ with his young family (3 girls 6, 4, 2 years) to the islands and then to South Africa in the late 60’s. Good luck with your 2015 summer sailing – NZ 2016?

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