“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. 1956 SAYRA National Regatta

by Richard Crockett

Multiclass National regattas have always intrigued me as I firmly believe that the camaraderie built at those events, as too the memories, last a lifetime.

These used to be regular affairs with the earliest reference I have being the 1952 National Regatta on Table Bay, from 17 to 29 March when 70 boats and 14 Clubs competed. They also formed the selection regatta for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

It is interesting that SAYRA (South African Yacht Racing Association) was only founded in 1947, so it took five years for the first National Regatta to take place. That is assuming there were none between 1947 and 1952?

With SAS (South African Sailing) planning a multiclass championship at different venues around the country in December this year, I took careful note having found the 1956 SAYRA National Regatta brochure in my archives.

On looking through that 1956 SAYRA National Regatta brochure, sailed from 30 January to 10 February at Zeekoe Vlei, several things fascinated me.

• The list of SAYRA and ZVYC (Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club) officials read like a who’s who as all were top yachties with impressive credentials.

• Published in the brochure was the list of SAYRA Member Clubs, with their “Sailing Letters” – and is reproduced here as questions are still asked today about these when pictures of dinghies from days of yore are published.

SAYRA member Club 'Letters'
Athlone Yacht Club A
Bloemfontein Yacht Club B
Clube Naval de Lourenco Marques LM
Douglas Yacht .Club D
East London ·Yacht Club EL
East Rand Yacht Club E
Florida Yacht Club F
George Lakes Club G
Henley Sailing Club PM
Hermanus Yacht Club H
King William's Town Yacht Club KT
Knysna Yacht Club K
Loch-Vaal Aquatic Sports Club L
Mazoe Sailing Club M
Point Yacht Club P
Redhouse Yacht Club R
Rhokana Sailing Club RS
Royal Natal Yacht Club N
Royal Cape Yacht Club C
Transvaal Yacht Club T
Victoria Lake Club V
Worcester Yacht Club W
Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club ZV
Zwartkops Yacht Club Z

These letters were on sails to identify at which Club the boat was registered.

Mysteries to me are the Douglas Yacht Club and Rhokana Yacht Club. Does anyone have information on them as I have never heard of them nor seen any reference to them?

• Elkan Green wrote a rather lengthy and very interesting history of the Zeekoe Vlei Yacht Club in the brochure.

• There was a lengthy “Information for Visiting Yachtsmen” editorial which covered a multitude of things, including the fact that Postal Arrangements had been made to have letters delivered to Zeekoe Vlei on a daily basis! A far cry from today when communications are instant and data is stored in the cloud!

• For me though, the most interesting were the references to the various trophies being competed for. It’s an impressive list, with, as far as I know, none of these being “active” trophies any longer. How sad, as every single one of them had a long history and were held by distinguished yachties and Clubs.

The magnificent trophies are listed in terms of the first competition.

SA Inter-Club Trophy for Twenty-Footers

SA Inter-Club Trophy for Twenty-footers
First competed for in 1913 at Victoria Lake.
This trophy was presented in 1913 by Mr. S. S. Cope of the Victoria Lake Club for Inter-Club competition in the 20-footer class. Entries are restricted to one representative yacht from each member club of the SAYRA and the award of the Trophy is decided on the result of one race. The rules governing this contest have been extended to include “Flying Dutchmen”.

Goodricke Inter-Club Trophy

Goodricke Inter-Club Trophy
First competed for in 1925 at Zwartkops.
This trophy was presented by Mr. George H. Goodricke for competition by 16-foot dinghies. The original rules of this class were drawn up in 1924. 16-ft. Scratch Class Yachts are eligible to compete in this class. The trophy is awarded on the result of one race and entries are restricted to one representative dinghy from each member club of the SAYRA.

Dewar Congella Shield

The Dewar Congella Shield
First competed for in 1929 at Zwartkops.
This trophy, originally the property of the Congella Yacht Club was presented by them, upon the dissolution of their club, to the Point Yacht Club, who in turn, presented it for Inter-Club competition by 20-footers.
This Trophy is open for competition by all registered 20-footers, including “Flying Dutchmen”, and is decided over six races with the best five to count on the South African Yacht Racing Association point system.

S.A. Inter-Club Sharpie Trophy
First competed for in 1938 at Redhouse.
Competition for this trophy, presented by the Zwartkops Yacht Club, is restricted to one representative yacht from each member club of the SAYRA. The award of the trophy is decided on the results of one race.

Robert Pyott Trophy for Sharpies

Robert Pyott Trophy for Sharpies
First competed for in 1940 at Victoria Lake.
Presented by Mr. Robert Pyott in 1939, this trophy is open for competition by any registered South African Sharpie. A series of six races are held, the best five of which count on the South African Yacht Racing Association point system, to decide the winner.

National Sprog trophy

National “Sprog” Trophy
First competed for in 1947 at Durban.
Mr. H. H. McWilliams of the Zwartkops Yacht Club presented this trophy for Sprogs in 1947. This trophy is competed for over a series of six races, the best five of which count on the South African Yacht Racing Association point system. In addition a single-handed catrigged race is sailed – the first being in 1955.

Emdon Trophy

Emdon Trophy
First competed for in 1949 at Zwartkops.
The inaugural contest for this trophy, which was presented by Mr. Alfred A. Emdon of the East Rand Yacht Club, was held at Zwartkops in 1940. Any registered Goodricke 16-footer or scratch-class yacht can compete for the trophy, the award of which is decided over six races, with the best five to count on the South African Yacht Racing Association point system.

Inter-Province sailing contest

Inter-Province Sailing Contest
First competed for in 1952 at Cape Town.
Originally known as the South African Inter-port Challenge Cup. This trophy was competed for annually from 1905 until 1923 by representatives from South African ports, Port Elizabeth and Durban being the only regular competitors. As no contest had been held for nearly 30 years, the trophy was handed to the South African Yacht Racing Association by the Royal Natal Yacht Club, for Inter-Provincial Team Racing. Provinces may be represented by teams consisting of two or more yachts, the numerical strength of the teams depending upon the number of yachts available. Helmsmen and crews must be members of registered Yacht Clubs situated in the province represented. The contest is decided on the results of one race. If the Provincial teams are made up of more than one class of yacht, such classes race independently.

While only the Sprog Class, until recently, was an active Class, it is saddening that little or no effort appears to have been made to keep these trophies alive and relevant in sailing competition. I am sure that in consultation with the Clubs who hold them now, or the families of those who donated them, some course of action could be made to bring them back into a current competitive scene.

I do know that the Dewar Congella Shield still holds pride of place in the Point Yacht Club, the SA Inter-Club trophy is on display at Victoria Lake Club and the Goodricke Inter-club trophy is kept at Knysna Yacht Club.

Sadly the Inter-club Candelabrum trophy for 20-footers and later FDs has been lost.

Of the other trophies, I would like to know where they are, or whether they too have been lost to our sport.

As always, should anyone have additional info on SAYRA National Regattas, the trophies or even pictures, please share them with me (editor@sailing.co.za) and followers of this Blog by LIKING, COMMENTING or SHARING.

Don and Patricia Ord with a host of trophies they won. These are (L-R):
Inter-Transvaal Trophy
Emdon Trophy (in case)
Exclumer Trophy
Robert Pyott trophy (won in Durban & Hermanus)
Inter-Club Sharpie Trophy (won in Hermanus)
Irvine & Johnstone Trophy (aggregate Sharpie Class at East Rand Yacht Club).
In front of the cased trophy, is a miniature cannon which was for the most number of winning guns during a season. The trophies stood proud in our entrance hall at home.
Tish was Don’s centre-hand in the club racing on Cinderella Dam for all the years he raced Sharpies, but at National events he had ‘stronger’ male crew.
Sandy Ord believes that the pic was taken in 1969. The Sharpie was ‘Circe’, No 157, a beautiful boat with ‘Sully’ blue deck and gleaming varnished hull, and was previously owned by John Sully.
He won the Robert Pyott trophy for three consecutive years, the Nationals at Durban in 1958, Hermanus 1959 and Bethlehem 1960. It was some years before that record was broken by Basil Joyce, a Zeekoe Vlei and Royal Cape stalwart, who campaigned against Don in the Sharpie ‘Nemesis’.
Sandy Ord still has the mounted cannon on his desk, and the Robert Pyott miniatures on his mantlepiece.
1947. The second post-war Nationals was held at Durban.
1938. The photo shows the “Goodricke” crew including Eric Budd of ZVYC proudly holding their club burgees. Their Managers are in a semi-naval rigout.
The photo was taken at the National Regatta in Durban in 1958.
L-R. Ernie Morrison – The Inter-Province sailing contest won by Natal.
Paul Elvstrom – Eric Benningfield Trophy for Finn dinghies.
Don Ord – Robert Pyott Trophy for Sharpies
John Sully – Interclub Trophy for 20 footers
Ernie Vos – National Sprog Trophy
Helmut Stauch – International Flying Dutchman Trophy
Kneeling are: S Richards (RNYC Centenary Trophy) and C Morgan (SA Interclub Sprog Trophy).
The Shield in the centre is the Dewar Shield for 20 footers.

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