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"Life is a cabaret, come to the cabaret"

3 May 2019 Phil Smidmore

Pittwater, sailing home of Barry Nesbitt

"Pittwater, sailing home of Barry Nesbitt"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

There has probably only been one person who can lay claim to owning 19 Etchells during their lifetime. Yes, 19, 18 of which he had built new and carried the name Tom Pepper, whilst his first one came pre-loved with the name, Billy Can.

That man, Arthur Barry Nesbitt, weighed anchor in late August at the age of 91, and is now sailing on bluer waters. His beloved wife Jan pre-deceased him, and he is survived by his four daughters, his son, his grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.

A stalwart of the Pittwater Fleet during the late 1970s, the 1980s and also the 1990s, Barry came to Etchells after owning several yachts including a 5.5 metre. A good sportsman who played high-level rugby in his younger days, Barry took to the Etchells as he loved the level playing field the class provided. During the 1980s the Etchells at RPAYC sailed as a class on Wednesday afternoons, as well as Saturdays, and ‘Nesbo’ rarely missed a race.

In Etchells his two best results were winning the 1981 North American Championships in Newport Beach, CA, and finishing third in the 1982 San Francisco Worlds. Both times he had the top line crew of Colin Bate, and Phil Smidmore! Indeed, they are the only non-North American crew to win the North American Etchells Championship.

Barry served on the committee at the RPAYC, including a term as Vice Commodore. He was great to sail with, as he always had a new boat with the latest gear, and there was no blame, no yelling, no regrets, he just got on with it!

A self made man who left school at 13, he worked in several jobs, including having a dabble in politics, before becoming very successful in property development. Barry was a very generous man, and whilst he did not pay people to sail with him, he quietly and without fuss would front with air tickets and accommodation and although not a drinker, would quietly pick up the bar and food tabs for his crew and their partners.

Barry certainly helped me, along with many others, in my early sailing career. Thank you Barry, and trust you are now enjoying those strong winds you always revelled in.

Good sailing,
Phil Smidmore.


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