by Richard Crockett
I certainly don’t want to commence a war of words about catamarans versus other vessels as that would simply be dumb. Those wars of words happened light-years ago now, and remain buried as catamarans. Indeed, multihulls in general are common in our marinas and have chalked up some remarkable passages. Plus our local industry has a world-wide reputation for building quality multihulls.
I raise the matter simply because in the very first issue of SA Yachting magazine, way back in November/December 1957, that headline caught my attention, as did the fact that Nat Herreshoff drew a catamaran in 1876 – and that caused a rumpus back then as one can imagine!
The first few paragraphs of the article in SA Yachting say this:
Even more startling and controversial than the advent of the “zoot-suit” 505’s in Southern African waters, will be the launching of the first fleet of sailing catamarans in the next few weeks.
Apart from a solitary pioneer in Durban Bay, what we believe to be the first hull actually afloat is a fibre-glass 16-footer- but fitted with twin outboard engines. Rodney Lemku of Cape Town is busy testing it, as the Cape’s answer to the ski-boat for inshore game fishing.
Hi progress will be interesting to watch, as he is lured down Cape Point way by the big fish of summer.
But soon afterwards “cats “- sailing mostly – will be popping out of the moulds in quantity from a workshop in Woodstock, Cape Town, under the supervision of two of our most experienced and experimental constructors, “Tinker’ Clark and Tony Pratt.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: 1957 10-11 – SA Yachting – OCR 17
READ the full story of Nat Herreshoff’s catamaran, entitled “The real story of Amaryllis and the first racing catamarans” HERE
Sadly I have not been able to find any reference to the “zoot-suit” 505s – as there may be a fascinating story there? If any readers can assist in this regard I would love to hear from them – mail me HERE
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 (email@example.com) 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)