David Barnes (Sailor)

David Barnes Sailor Wiki – David Barnes Sailor Biography

David John Barnes was a former team New Zealand America’s Cup sailor. The New Zealand sailing community lost a revolutionary figure on Friday with the passing of David John Barnes.


He has died at the age of 62.

Earlier Life and Education

Barnes was Born on 27 April 1958 in Wellington. He was educated at Tawa College.

Wife, Children

He married Karen in 1986, and the couple had three children.


Barnes won three 470 world titles with Hamish Willcox in the early 1980s and went on to be involved in six America’s Cup campaigns between 1985 and 2003, and was famously skipper of Team New Zealand’s “Big Boat” challenge of 1988 when they took on Dennis Conner’s catamaran.

Willcox teamed up with Barnes in 1980 and remembers the helmsman as a deep thinker who was always pushing the boundaries when it came to both technique and the technical side of the sport.

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The pair were the first New Zealanders to win an Olympic class world title and their first, in 1981, happened to also be their first regatta in Europe. They did it has come up with a different way of sailing the 470 – lower and faster – and became known for making significant changes to their mast and sail setup, centerboard, and rudder.

David Barnes Diagnosed

Barnes was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In 2013 he became involved with Kiwi Gold Sailing, a group of Paralympians attempting to qualify a Sonar for the 2016 Paralympics. The team included fellow America’s Cup veteran Rick Dodson. However, Barnes’ condition worsened and he withdrew from the team in 2014.

Barnes even tried a two-skin jib sail setup which is a feature of the present generation of America’s Cup boats. He also came up with a different approach to mast rake in the Flying Dutchman which everyone in the fleet imitated.

Cause of Death

Barnes died on 23 October 2020, at the age of 62. Barnes’ death was confirmed by Hamish Wilcox.

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