“Talking Sailing” from my Archives. Rothman’s Week 1974

The winner of the very first Rothman’s Week was Golden Fleece skippered by Gordon Neil.

by Richard Crockett

Last week I featured the very first Mainstay Week which was modelled on the highly successful Rothman’s week jointly organised and run by the Cruising Association of South Africa (CASA) and the Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC).

The announcement for Rothman’s Week was made in SA Yachting Magazine in June 1974 under the headline: Rothman’s Cape Sailing Week.

“Keelboat sailing in the Western Province is to get a tremendous lift following the announcement by Rothman’s that the Cape is to have a big annual sailing fiesta for offshore yachts, big and small. It will be called the Rothmans’ Sailing Week, and the date this year will be between December 16 and 21, in Table Bay. The technical organisation will come from the Cruising Association of South Africa and, of course, the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

“One of the big idea of this racing week for ocean racers is to get a good contingent down from the Transvaal, and even the Free State where keelboat sailing is getting under way on the huge Verwoerd Dam.

“Some of the up-country craft may seem mall for the Cape’s often rumbustious weather, but Fred Raas successfully completed the course in the recent Port Elizabeth East London Race in his little Mistral; and not so long ago Colin Greenacre put in two good seasons of Table Bay sailing with an even smaller Kelkiewyn – and coped with the hardest weather with out difficulty, making his mark in Division 11 racing.

“The main precaution up-country skippers should take is to beef up the rigging generally, which is too often optimistic by seagoing standards. The other point is that although Table Bay is the venue this year, False Bay could very well get it turn later.

“Anyway, pretty sizeable craft can come down by road these days. Typically, Transvaler Ludi Lochner is thinking in terms of a half- tonner which he plans to bring down every year for Rothman’s Week.

“Anyway, the programme will consist three one-day races, probably round Robben Island, and a 36-hour race from Table Bay round Seal Island in False Bay and a buoy in Fish Hoek Bay and back. All of this sailing will take into account as much as possible spectator appeal. Of course, after January, 1976. there will be television – and sailing makes one of the finest TV spectacle you could wish for, when the cameras are right out there next to the action”.

Interestingly there was absolutely no mention of any coastal clubs, giving the impression that the organisers were more interested in the Transvaal sailors than anyone else. Maybe it is fitting that a non-Cape yacht won the very first Rothman’s Week overall! To find out who you will need to read the full report.

Rothman’s Week fast became one of those “must do” regattas, as did Mainstay Week, with Rothman’s being a good event with which to close off the year.

As is always the case with these reports from the archives, there are many interesting names, faces and yachts within those pages.

READ THE ROTHMAN’S WEEK REPORT HERE:  1975 01 – SA Yachting – Rothmans Week

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, photos, 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, Len Davies 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 (editor@sailing.co.za) 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. Rothman’s 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 (www.sailing.co.za)