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Barrie Perry, yachtsman, naval architect and businessman, 1933-2024

by Simon Perry 22 Jan 09:06 GMT
Barrie Perry (far right) discussing masts with (L-R) Ron Holland, Germán Frers, Ted Heath and Olin Stevens © Perry family

Barrie Perry, 90, died peacefully at home on Sunday 14th January after a lifetime spent on and around the water. He is remembered as an accomplished dinghy sailor, naval architect, and yachtsman, one of the founders of Proctor Masts, a Managing Director of Hamble Yacht Services and of Marina Developments Limited (MDL).

After obtaining a degree in naval architecture from Newcastle University, where he was a founder of the British Universities Sailing Association (BUSA), then a postgraduate qualification in production engineering and management, Barrie joined Hawker Aircraft in Kingston. Here, one of his jobs was to work on the design of a mast for "Sceptre", the British challenger for the America's Cup in 1958.

He left Hawker's after two years to join Ian Proctor in a new metal mast making venture, Proctor Masts. As Managing Director and later Chairman, Barrie worked with Ian Proctor, Cliff Norbury and others to build Proctor's into the largest mast maker in the world.

Through Proctor's Barrie remained connected to the America's Cup, manufacturing the masts for "Sovereign" in 1964 and "Lionheart" in 1980 briefly joining the crew of the latter at the request of his friend, John Oakley, in the build-up to the Challenger Series.

His interest in sailing started in Kingston when he was just 13, sailing an 11ft Sharpie (financed by the sale of his sister's dressing table) out of Hart's Boatyard.

He progressed to Minima Yacht Club where he started sailing National 12s, competing with and against the likes of Cliff Norbury and John Oakley. In 1954 he won the Burton Cup in an Ian Proctor design, "Chiquita".

He then moved to International Fourteen's where he was a member of the winning British team which sailed in Bermuda in 1963 and continued sailing in the class until 1971.

Barrie's involvement with yachts began with an International Folkboat for family sailing, then campaigning "Whisper", a Half Tonner of the Comfort 30 design. Success in the Half Ton fleet encouraged him to go on to design one of his own, also "Whisper", a striking wooden, varnished boat which was built in 1978 by the Webb brothers at Elephant Boatyard on the River Hamble.

A long-time member of the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Barrie became a regular competitor in the Hamble X-boat fleet before ultimately leaving the Hamble to spend his retirement running a riverboat marina, formerly part of the MDL portfolio, in Huntingdon. It was here that he spent his last years sailing model yachts, pottering about on the river and looking out over the toings and froings of the vibrant marina.

A cremation service will be held for Barrie at 3:45pm on 29th January at Huntingdon Cemetery & Crematorium, Sapley Rd, Kings Ripton, Huntingdon PE28 2NX. Donations to the RNLI are welcomed in his memory.

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