On this Day. A Peek Into Our Sailing History

by Richard Crockett

I am busy archiving many boxes of press cuttings I have accumulated and which I guestimate run into tens of thousands! A daunting task which I believe to be necessary before ditching them as I have been concerned for many years about the lack of interest Clubs, Classes and other sailing related organisations give to preserving their history.

This is my personal crusade, and instead of simply archiving and keeping the contents away from prying eyes, I will share my spoils in the hope that you will enjoy reminiscing as much as I have, and continue to do as I wade through the labourious process of scanning each and every cutting in my archives.

As each scanned cutting will be searchable, I will be able to create presentation packs personally tailored to a persons exact requirements – ie. Rothmans Week, the NCS Regatta, the Rio Race, Mauritius Race and more – or simply by the name of an individual (like Ant Steward and his open boat exploits) who want a record of his/her sailing career for the family archives.

I have already done this by scanning in excess of 4000 pages of material I have on ‘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 – so watch this space.

So enough of the blurb, and more of the nitty-gritty!

HMS Albion 1967. On 30 September 1967 the Natal Mercury reported that ‘HMS Albion’s bosun dinghies would take part in the Durban opening cruise. Of interest is the fact that 5 Bosun dinghies were carried aboard the ship. READ IT HERE:  1967 09 30 HMS Albion 556

I wonder if the modern Navies do this today?

Bruce Dalling 1968. This letter from Bruce to Brian Lello shows what a complete gentleman Bruce was by simply acknowledging the efforts of Lello in a formal letter. In all the many pages of correspondence I have read from Bruce to various people, it was very clear that he was well mannered and appreciative of the opportunity he had to Sail Voortrekker. READ IT HERE:  1968 09 30 Bruce Dalling 990

I wonder how many people today bother to make thanks more formally than a simple text message with a few emojis?

Beachcomber Crossing 1985. The Natal Mercury reported on the day 1 progress of the first race between Mauritius and Durban, and that crewman Brian Tocknell aboard the Compass 47 ‘Broadway Ford’ required medical attention. A rival Compass 47 ‘Solitaire’ made contact with them and transferred their Doctor aboard to tend to the ill crewman. That’s great sportsmanship.  READ IT HERE:  1985 09 30 Mauritius Race 1985 418

Meiring Naude 1989. On the same day The Star newspaper ran a column written by seasoned sailing journalist Dave Beattie about this grand research vessel that was due to go into retirement. It’s a wonderfully insightful column by a very talented journalist – and is well worth reading in its entirety.

In the old days we were blessed to have the SA Navy provide a guardship for the early Rio Races, and the Meiring Naude for the opening few Mauritius races. They provided a sense of security for the fleet and the families of competitors, and also gave the journalist aboard first-hand insight into life at sea – and an opportunity to interact with the yachts at sea. Those were the great days of ocean racing. READ IT HERE:  1989 09 30 Mauritius Race 1989 377 32