Home built boat

Cockleshell was amateur built but her designer and builder A.J. Barber was fastidious about technology. Much of her gear including 'tufnol' blocks he made himself and a set of wooden patterns for her cast bronze fittings still exists.

When launched the boat was lighter than expected and required a 90kg block of lead to be let into the deadwood aft of the cast iron keel and 38kg of internal lead ballast placed in the bilge just behind the mast. That was done for her second season, which was when her varnished topsides were painted over in deep maroon red. The internal ballast remained in the boat until 1984 when it was removed by Jonty to try racing the boat in a lighter configuration. A new lightweight aluminium mast from Z Spars also replaced the heavy wooden mast that had been built by Marinecraft in St. Peter Port soon after WW2.


AJ was ambitious about sail technology as shown by the first photograph, launch day on the careening hard at St. Peter Port. It is possible that Cranfield of Burnham-on-Crouch supplied the first sails and the mainsail can be seen from the top photo to be partially fully battened, and somewhat reminiscent of Linton Hope Thames raters. The sail was not a success and soon replaced.

Rig development

Not being governed by class rules has allowed gradual evolution of the rig including the addition of a fixed backstay in 1952, and removal of the running backstays. From around 1928 until 1952 Cockleshell also had a small bowsprit to correct the effect of the large mainsail, and 1971 saw the last major alteration to the rig with swept back spreaders and a higher foretriangle being adopted.

It is believed that the boat has had four masts since her launch, the current alloy spars by Z Spars at Hadleigh in Suffolk was new in 1984.

The boat has only had nine mainsails since 1926 but many more jibs, genoas and spinnakers. The earliest receipt in the archive is for a parachute spinnaker in 1955 by W.G. Lucas and Sons of Portsmouth for the sum of £11 and 15 shillings.

Other sailmakers have included Rockall (Bowker & Budd), Seahorse, Team Sails, Quantum/ Parker & Kay and now OneSails GBR.

The current standing rigging is by Performance Rigging at Hamble Point.

The Emergency Repair in 2008.....

Regular maintenance is essential to both hull and gear but occasionally a major job arises and not at the most convenient time. Read more about the 2008 Pitstop here.....

In 2014 the mast step and forward knee were replaced with new oak parts and additional knees also added for more strength.