“Talking Sailing”from My Archives. Billy-Oh & the Extra

This is the pic which has inspired this article. Does anyone know where the very first Extra built may be?

by Richard Crockett

Here is something a little different, and certainly not a quick review on the Extra dinghy.

It’s rather featured as Frans Loots supplied the colour pic of the very first Extra dinghy fully rigged on her launching dolly outside Herbert McWilliams house, named “The Poop”at Amsterdamhoek on the Zwartkops River. Note the Rolls Royce and the Bentley in the pic!

Sadly the house was destroyed in a fire in the 1980s, and was never rebuilt.

Could this be the very first Extra dinghy built? Does anyone know where Extra sail number 1 is lying?

Since then Extra 1 has been missing, and not a single soul can say definitively where it is as from all accounts it was not destroyed in the fire.

Frans Loots, among others like Warren Schmelzer (who has recently published a book on the Zwartkops Yacht Club) would love to find that first boat. Frans in particular would like to be able to restore it to her former glory, much like he did with Stroppy the first ever Sprog.

So if anyone knows where it may be, please mail me (editor@sailing.co.za) the details and I will pass this info on.

The Extra Dinghy
The Extra, introduced in the 1960s, was a development of the Billy-Oh, a 10ft training dinghy for kids. Both were designed by Herbert McWilliams. His aim was to produce a design that was both simple to build and sail.

In its early days it cost between R250 and R300 to build at home, so its popularity soared, also due to its versatility as it could be sailed solo or two-up. It’s a performer too – in all conditions and plained readily.

I will cover this in more detail at a later stage as I have a good selection of old archive prints, so please be patient – and please keep a weather eye out for Extra 1.

Ron Keytel chasing Graham Greathead.

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.

An advertising flyer for Billy-Oh.

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)