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

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29 thoughts on “One-Off Sparkman & Stephens Admirals Cup”

  1. Barnacle Bill is still in the ownership of Jon and Linda Wilkins resident in the uK . Barnacle Bill is back in The Azores after the Brexit :Covid debacle currently lifted out on Santa Maria Island . She is still loved and cared for by her skipper . If anyone would like photos please let us know .we would also love to have more information about past build history and sailing adventures . We have had contact with Jennifer Harden and Helene – Seika’s owner .

  2. All these wonderful stories regarding Barnacle Bill. I bought sister ship Seika in 1979 in Tauranga NZ and sailed her with my family being Wife & 4 young children plus my wife’s sister up into the Pacific Islands. We woke up one morning in Cooks Bay Morea to find Barnical Bill had anchored right by us in the night. Neither of us knew that the other was even in the Islands so what a coincidence. There were no other yachts in the bay that day. Barnical Bill was enroute to the US. We had good time getting acquainted however we had to keep moving as we were then bound for Pango Pango so we lost touch. A year later My Wife and I sold Seika. I lost touch with Seika however in 2017 while sailing my latest yacht Elixir, a 2001 Dufour Classic from Ireland to NZ I came across Seika again in Noumea. That ageless S & S design was still drop dead beautiful and wonderfully maintained. The memories she carries bought tears to my eyes and put a lump in my throat, I still love her so.

  3. I don’t have any direct links to Barnacle Bill but as a teenager sailing dinghies in Wellington in the mid to late 70’s I used to see her sailing in all the harbour races and in my opinion was the best looking boat out there.

    Many years later I saw her in a marina on the Gold Coast; couldn’t believe it, same name, same red colour; really pleased to see she was still sailing.

    To come across this site and read that Barnacle Bill is still sailing 40 something years later and being well cared for is unbelievable. Well done all.

  4. When Seika was owned by Ray Zander of Taupo , circa the 1970s ,we sailed out of Tauranga on it .Sister ship to Barnacle Bill , she was a beautiful ly balanced mono-hull..

  5. Jennifer Jarden

    Hi Everyone, with NZ just having won the America’s Cup in Auckland, it got me thinking back to when my father Ron Jarden sailed Barnacle Bill in the Admiral’s Cup England. So I decided to google Barnacle Bill to see if I could find any info about her and found this blog. I’ve just been reading all the comments. So lovely to hear all the wonderful comments about her. And really great to read that she is well looked after and still sailing the oceans. I see there was a comment about her coming back to NZ in 2012. I wished I knew then, so I could see her again. I have some wonderful memories of sailing in the Bay of Islands (with Andy Stuart on board) and then in the Sounds when Dad brought her down to Wellington and the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. I have the big photograph the Auckland crew gave Dad when he left Auckland to bring her down to Wellington. It’s framed on my wall – great photo. Linda and Jon if you’re ever back in the NZ with Barnacle Bill please look me up. My email is and live on the Kapiti Coast, not far from Wellington. My mother Joan is still around – she’ll be 90 soon. I can’t wait to tell her about all these comments.
    Best wishes
    Jennifer Jarden

  6. Hi Keith and Gary you 2 guys made a big impact on the sailing yacht club in Taupo when you built BB and seika I worked for Doug Johnson at Johnson motors the ford dealer when it was being built also seika was being built for ray zander I also remember that you 2 guys built I think a 30 footer for rod Macfarlane he called I.t upanof it was painted yellow my email address is

  7. Helene Saglibene

    Hi Linda. It’s Helene and Jean Noel the owners of Seika. Are you still in the Azores? Here our email adress to share some photos if you agree:

    I also tried to send an email to Rod to contact Gary Adam. But I’ve never got any answer. Did he receive it?


  8. Hi my name is Keith Dobson and I built Barnacle Bill in Taupo NZ with Gary Adams. It was my first project after my apprenticeship which set me up in business. I then went on to build many more cold molded timber boats.
    The last timber boat I built was an 8 metre racing yacht which competed in the 8 metre series in Germany. At age 70 I am still building boats my latest project is an all mahogany runabout.
    I would be very interested if anyone can advise me as to the whereabouts of where Barnacle Bill is today. I have lots of fond memories of building Barnacle and can still relate to all the timber specifications.

    1. Matthew Debono


      I believe you built my yacht Cobweb. Laurie Davidson 35ft 3 skin Kauri. She wasn’t looked after very well and had struck a reef, but I am most way through rebuilding her. New keelson, laminated floors, stringers and 17sqm of hull. Just closing up second diagonal at the moment. Get in touch, 0272431756 👍

  9. Hi, my name is rod Clark and I have been sitting here on the Gold Coast Australia relaxing with my father in law Gary Adams who was the builder of BB and seika, I can’t believe I found this blog! I have heard Gary talk about these boats for years and I asked if he has ever goggled it and he said he didn’t know really how! All I can say is wow I have just spent the last 20 minutes reading all of these comments to him and he is just blown away.
    Him and kieth Dobson also lives on the Gold Coast.
    Gary remembers Doug and Rosie (ford dealer) Gary just told me he bought he’s first jag from him lol.
    He said he give you all first hand build info on both boats and he also told he still has a photo of the table of offsets for B.B. from when it was built 50 years ago.
    I find this amazing.
    If you would like to contact me I’m sure Gary would be more then happy to share everything he knows about the creation of such a great yacht!.
    It’s been great for me to read about the history of past and present owners but to sit with the person who put it together is something special.
    A true craftsman and a privilege to call him my father in law.
    Cheers rod Clark.

    1. Fantatic! So pleased Gary was able to read the blog, and that you found it! Many thanks for sharing. Peace and fair winds!

  10. Linda Wilkins

    Hi Helene
    Its Jon and Linda here owners of Barnacle Bill for the last 18 years. Currently we are in the Azores.on a small island called Santa Maria. BB is still going strong with some modifications to enable our cruising activities. Her home port is the River Deben, Nr Woodbridge in the County of Suffolk in the UK .
    It would be great to share more information and photographs. We have never seen Seiko nor do we know of her build composition, sailing history etc and it would be interesting to know of her current sailing activities in New Caledonia .
    Would love to see what she looks like.
    Linda Wilkins

  11. Helene Saglibene

    We are the present owners of Seika, the sister ship of BB. Seika is still sailing in New Caledonia, South Pacific. We really would love to know more about her history and her sister ship history. We sailed with her twice to Bay of Islands the last couple of years! We would please to meet you!

  12. Hi. I have sailed on BB’s sister yacht Seika. She is owned by Helene and Jean-Noel Saglibene and Noumea is her home port. I have been priveledged to do 2 crossings from New Caledonia to New Zealand in 2013 and 2015. At 40 years old she is still a fabulous vessel.


    Phil Paulsen
    New Zealand

  13. A bit late but have only just found this article. I sailed on BB for a number of years first with Doug and Rosie Johnstone and then with Ron Jarden. Would love to catch up with both Graeme and Robert. Also would love to know more about how BB is these days. The cabin top is as she was built and there was sister ship Seiko not sure if exact sister though. I was the one responsable for cutting loo door in haif. Mainly because we lived on top of the sails and they blocked the door. We carried 35 sails on board. Five of them were number one genoas. Her displacement was more like 12 tons not 20.There is a mention of here being sailed back out to NZ would love to know more about this. I now live in the Bay of Islands NZ and still sail a lot.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.


  16. linda and Jon wilkins

    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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Michael Hearn

    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 😉

    2. Martinique Stilwell

      Hi Michael
      We met you and Barbara on Barnacle Bill in Tahiti. My brother Robert and I were on Vingila with my parents. We met up again in Brisbane. I’d love to catch up sometime

  20. Robert McClelland


    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!

  21. 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

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