Bill Northam



Full Name,William Herbert “Bill” Northam

Born,28 September 1905 in Torquay; Torbay (GBR)

Died,6 September 1988 in Woollahra; New South Wales (AUS)

Measurements,183 cm / 81 kg


Bill Northam started as a youngster in athletics and then turned to dirt-track car and motorcycling racing. But he excelled in business and became the chairman of the Australian sections of both Johnson & Johnson and Slazenger. He did not take up sailing until he was 46, but he quickly became serious about it. Northam bought some property at The Basin, Pittwater in Sydney, and was taken out for a sail by a neighbor, and became interested. His house looked out over the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, and Northam would eventually name his 5.5 metre boat, which he raced at the Olympics, “Barrenjoey.”

Northam started out in larger 8-metre yachts, racing “Saskia” in England and winning the prestigious Sayonara Cup in 1955 and 1956. He had success racing “Caprice of Huon” in the Sydney-to-Hobart race, and raced “Jazzer” in the Sabre class. In 1962 he served as a member of Frank Packer’s syndicate for “Gretel,” which was the challenger for the America’s Cup.

In 1962 Northam decided to aim for the Olympics and went to the United States, asking naval architect Bill Luders to build him a 5.5 metre craft, the “Barrenjoey.” He made the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics and marched at the Opening Ceremony alongside his son, Rod, who was a reserve on the rowing team. In the competition, Northam skippered “Barrenjoey” to the gold medal. He was named Australia Yachtsman of the Year, and in 1966 was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1976 Northam was knighted for services to the community.



1964 Sailing,5.5 metres,Barrenjoey,1,Gold