“Talking Sailing” from my Archives. The Winger Dinghy

Winger. Sprog influence can be seen in the hull when viewed from this angle. The stem is semi-circular and five inches wide at deck level tapering to a fine section at the waterline.

by Richard Crockett

Last week I wrote about the Sprog, so it makes sense to cover the Winger two-man dinghy now. Sadly it was a class that just never had the ‘legs’ the Sprog did, yet reading the info on this dinghy one wonders why?

In the book “Yachting in Southern Africa” by Anthony Hocking, this is what was said about the Winger.:
“The Winger was essentially a big brother to the Sprog, built in marine plywood with water proof glue: 16 feet overall, 5 feet in the beam, 120 sq ft sail area and weighing 306 lb rigged. This is what Herbert Mc Williams had to say of the new design.

“This boat, like every racing yacht, is a compromise. You can’t have it all ways. What is gained in obtaining efficiency on one point of sailing usually has to be sacrificed in other ways. We all know what happens when we tune our boats for hot-stuff racing: get her footing fast to weather and she’s sluggish down-wind; alter the trim so that she’ll do a screaming reach; plumb the mast for that hectic plane, and you’ll lag behind on the beat.

Winger. The trapeze is only necessary in wind speeds over 25mph and enables the boat to be sailed upright when most craft are literally “on their ears”!

“So we chuck away a little nimbleness to weather; retain the ability to get up and plane, and the result is a subtle compromise in rig giving the all-round performance that allows for tide and wind and course to vary.

“The Winger was about one-seventh larger than the Sprog-in every respect. With its scantlings only very lightly heavier and this weight offset by the space occupied by the larger cockpit, the total weight was therefore about one-seventh more, with about one-seventh more plywood in the sheathing and one-seventh more sail area. The aim was to provide a racing yacht and family cruiser in one-to fulfil a need long felt in South African waters.

Winger. Even in a medium breeze “Winger” gets up and planes, with four children and the helmsman.

“The Winger met with success, particularly in Cape clubs. But the success was not as great as it deserved. The Winger had barely got off the ground when Frank Spears came up with yet another development of the Goodricke. His Vivace, sailed by his son Hilary Spears of the University of Cape Town Yacht Club, swept the board at the 1957 National Regatta at Victoria Lake, and took both the Emdon and the Goodricke Trophies.

Winger. Ian Campbell – skipper & Tim Lindley on Whisper.

“Vivace was based on ‘Pappa’ Bongers’s Scratch, which was in turn largely based on Jack Holt’s Merlin. But Vivace was built of moulded plywood-three layers of spruce, each layer 3 inches by 1 inch sawn timber and glued throughout with waterproof glue. The planking was laid diagonally, continuously from gunnel to gunnel. Each mould made several hulls, and Frank Spears and his sons soon had a number on the water.

Before long the magazine SA Yachting was pointing out that in spite of the freedom allowed among Goodricke dinghies, many enthusiasts felt the Vivace hulls should be made a one-design class, to eliminate possible continual expensive changes which had proved the bane of other good designs. The Vivace Class would still be within the current Goodricke rule, but would have to have a name of its own. In fact, the magazine offered to give a year’s subscription to the reader who suggested the most appropriate name.

Winger. Hugh Coudell & son Clifford in Windswept on Zandvlei.

“So was born the Spearhead, which apart from being instituted as a class on its own, of course sounded the final death-knell of the old Goodricke dinghies. Old man Goodricke, it was said, would be turning in his grave if he knew what had happened to the class for which he had done so much. But in spite of the promising beginnings at Germiston, it was to be some time before the Spearhead-Goodricke established itself securely.

READ ALL ABOUT THE WINGER HERE (3-pages):  1957 10-11 – SA Yachting – Winger

The Spearhead will be covered in the next “Talking Sailing – From my Archives”

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)