From My Archives. Which Was the First South African Yacht to Circumnavigate?

Cariad I in full spleandour. She was the first South African yacht to circumnavigate the world.

by Richard Crockett

I am sure, like me, that most of the answers will be Sandefjord. I was always under that impression until I queried this fact and was told it was White Seal – which I took for granted.

But in doing some archiving of very early SA Yachting magazines, plus some old black & white pics in my archive, I came across reference to White Seal and decided to delve a little deeper. In reporting on her circumnavigation in SA Yachting (Jan/Feb 1960), I found this reference: “Anyway, all South African yachtsmen are proud of the Union’s third circumnavigation since the War, earned out with good seamanship and independence of spirit”.

White Seal leaving Durban harbour for her circumnavigation.

So who came before White Seal?

Further research eventually showed that it was Cariad I when owned by A.W. Flitton. The following reference in SA Yachting says: “…but others persevered, encouraged by such as A.W. Flitton, founder of TYC, who sailed Cariad I round the world twice in the early 1950 s; Gerry Trobridge who sailed PYC’ s White Seal and Sandefjord whose adventure-filled voyage was screened country-wide during the late 1960s. In 1974, a PYC member Ekhart Lutke and his wife completed a circumnavigation in their home built trimaran Kranich”.

So the answer is Cariad I when owned by A.W. Flitton.

Sandefjord on her first sea trials off Durban after her refit.

Her first circumnavigation under the South African flag started in Cape Town on 9 November 1948, and finished on 29 April 1951, the second, two years later was also completed.

The story of Cariad I is long and impressive and will be told in the not too distant future, as too will be those of White Seal and Sandefjord.

What is “From My Archives” About?
After many years, in fact decades, of collecting material on our sport and wanting to sort and organise the information into an archive that was more user-friendly, I started with many boxes of newspaper cuttings I had. This entailed digitising and scanning every single one, and saving them in a chronological date order – a daunting task as there are in excess of 20 000 cuttings.

While doing this I decided to share my material in the form of “On this Day. A Newspaper History of Sailing”. That was at the very end of September 2019, and it ran daily with several newspaper cuttings per day for an entire year.

In between archiving the newspaper cuttings I was also delving deeper into my photo and magazine archives which span a period of some 60 years from about 1957 to 2017. These too are being digitised.

So much that is interesting has caught my eye, I have decided that now is the time to start sharing this information too.

I have only just begun scratching the surface of my archives, but the joy I get from them every time I do some digging makes me determined to preserve the history of our sport and share it as far and wide as possible. It’s become a personal crusade – maybe even an obsession.

My Plea – Please Share Your Sailing History
If you are interested in preserving the rich history of sailing in RSA, my plea to you is to please assist me by sharing your personal archives, pics, press cuttings and whatever with me, committee records and more so that I can scan them and share them widely. My promise is that I will treat them with the utmost care, and get them back to you safely. So far Don Pfotenhauer; Richard Bertie; Dudley Dix; Dave Elcock; Frans Loots and others have shared their scrap books and files with me.

There are big gaps in my archives, so should you have material that you are willing to share please make contact ( and let’s chat.

What is Possible
As each newspaper cutting and article is text-searchable, I am able to create presentation packs personally tailored to a person’s exact requirements – ie. Rothmans Week, the NCS Regatta, the Rio Race, Mauritius Race, Vasco da Gama Race and more – or simply by the name of an individual (like Ant Steward and his open boat exploits) – for those who want a record of his/her sailing career for the family archives.

I have already created a stand-alone 4000+ page PDF document of Voortrekker – from idle chatter, to concept, to the formation of what ultimately became the South African Ocean Racing Trust (SAORT), to the fruition of the 1968 OSTAR Race in which Bruce Dalling and ‘Voortrekker’ excelled – and even beyond that.

The possibilities are endless – and exciting.

Sharing From These Archives
Should you wish to copy, forward or share material from here, PLEASE acknowledge the source as: Sourced From the SAILING Mag Archives & Historical Records (