Deceased , Historic




Capt. John Barr, pictured at left, at the helm

Capt. John Barr (brother of Hall of Fame Inductee Capt. Charlie Barr) was an active sailor in the later half of the 19th Century, when he sailed  378 races, yielding 250 prizes over a period of about 50 years. He sailed everything from dinghies to 20 tonners and America’s Cup yachts.

From Capt. John Barr’s nominator:

Famous Skipper, Who Handled Thistle And Jubilee.

Capt. John Barr was the elder brother of Capt. Charlie Barr (NSHOF, Class of 2011). Known to all the yachting world as a master skipper, Capt. Barr lived at 43 Gregory Street, Marblehead, right next door to his brother, Capt, Charlie Barr.

Capt. John Barr had five sons, Archie, a coxswain on the United States battle ship Louisiana, John M., mate on the private yacht of G.K.G. Billings, at Jacksonville, Fla.; James, George and William, at home; and two daughters, Mrs. Arthur Shofield and Miss Annie Barr, grandmother Sidney Barr James and Altima Osgood.

Capt. John Barr was skipper of Thistle in the international yacht race of 1887, when Thistle was defeated by the America’s Cup defender Volunteer. Capt. Barr was given great credit for his work with the Thistle. The Thistle was raced by him Sept. 27 and Sept. 30, 1887, and was beaten in both races.

Capt. Barr’s next appearance in international events was in 1893 when he sailed the American yacht Jubilee in the contest to select the America’s Cup defender to race against Valkyrie.  Capt. Barr sailed Jubilee in the race against Vigilant, Colonia, and Pilgrim. In the first race the vessel met with an accident and did not finish. In the second race Jubilee secured second place, but the third race was sailed with the handicap of a broken gaff-jaw and the vessel was fourth. Vigilant was selected as the cup defender and defeated Valkyrie II.


In image, John Barr located on far right.


A notable instance of Capt. Barr’s superiority as a skipper was in his handling of Clara, which he brought over from Scotland and which became a leader in the 53 foot class.

Capt. Barr was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but removed with his parents at an early age to Gourock-on-the-Clyde. Here the famous skipper sailed his first race and began his career as a yachtsman, which resulted in the first 12 years of racing in an average of 10 winnings a year, all in small boats.

Capt. Barr during his career had charge of Neptune, a Fife boat, in which he won 35 prizes out of 50 starts, all sailed in Scotch and Irish waters. He next sailed Ulerin, a Watson boat, carrying off 27 out of 29 starts. He then took the cutter, Clara, a Fife 20 tonner, the first of the big British yachts to cross over to America. In two seasons he won with her 15 prizes out of 15 starts in one of which he had Galatea as a opponent.

The next important racing done by Capt. Barr was in Thistle, in which he won 13 prizes out of 15 starts. He sailed Thistle to this country and entered the great international race with Volunteer in 1887. He captioned Thora, which he sailed in Scottish waters, and later sailed Clara, winning 22 prizes out of 24 starts. He next sailed  Cinderella at New York, with Clara as an opponent, winning 12 races. He also sailed the well known sloop Gloriana. In 1895-6 he sailed Howard Gould’s sloop Niagara, which he took to England for a season, winning 41 out of 53 starts. His grand total yachting record is 378 races, yielding 250 prizes.

Birth: Jul., 1845, Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland
Death: Jan. 12, 1909 Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA, Died from Bladder disease.

  • Filter Nominees

  • Reset

Preserving America’s Sailing Legacy

Engaging Sailing’s Next Generation

Stay Connected to the National Sailing Hall of Fame