Sunday 17 February 2013

DART the real GSM story

I have just had the pleasure of reading the above book, writen by Sandy Brunette, number 0423 of just 1000 copies published and  loaned to me be Eric (thanks pal) it is a limited edition publication that blows much of the myth about car and man (men) its a long story and one worth reading if you can find yourself a copy.

I say man, that was Bob Van Neikerk, there were others, Willie Meissener was one of them, Bob was the designer, Willie the motor engineer, what a partnership!

Van Niekerk in a Lotus 18 at Killarney Raceway, Cape Town.

Bob was able to switch from cars to boats and all in between, read the story below, my thanks to the Sunday Times, dated September 2nd 2012 for this story.

Greg Mills

Jacob van Reenen ‘Bob’ van Niekerk passed away peacefully in his Hout Bay home on 23 August 2012, aged 84. During his lifetime he produced South Africa’s own sports-car, more than 170 boat designs and a few other mind-stretching inventions.

He has been lauded internationally as a ‘genius’. He has spawned boat-building enterprises from the UK to New Zealand. Yet little is known of him at home.

At the time of receiving this sad notice, I was en route to Lake Kariba. In the back of my mind was to keep an eye out for the famous Meteor III racing catamaran powered by two 450bhp Nascar Holman-Moody V8 engines, which Bob designed and built and which in his and Kenny Stephens’ capable hands had won the SA offshore powerboat championship in 1969 and finished fourth in that year’s Isle of Wight race, the World Championship of the time.

The Meteor had reputedly ended up on the Lake in the early 1970s, though its ply-construction is unlikely to have survived the ravages of time and Robert Mugabe. Stephens, my godfather, and something of a likeable rogue, had taken me for a spin in the cat in Simon’s Town aged just six. I remember being terrified by the buffeting and banging of the waves even in the relative calm of the harbour when doing just 40mph.

They were brave men. And in the person of Bob van Niekerk, an undoubtedly great one.

What many may not know was that when I asked Bob to design a proposed new and floating Hout Bay Yacht Club based on his 17 meter long GRP power catamaran he designed for the SA Navy, he was pleased to do so.

Where are those plans, I may still have them. Bob handed over his proposal for free, I am pleased to tell you that the HBYC committee then saw fit to write out a reasonable payment queque for Bobs services, Bob was delighted!