NB* THIS WEBSITE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND WILL BE EDITED AND ADDED TO AS TIME GOES ON
I start this narrative with an explanation of the reasoning behind the SO tag, where the logo letters are related to the Southern Ocean. This relationship has significance to me because my earliest memories are focused on this Oceanic region, being as it was, the place of my earliest recolections. As a youngster I spent time on the beach, north of Durban, at Umhlanga Rocks, with surf invariably pounding on the rocky lighthouse promontory. Ships lay offshore waiting to enter the port of Durban and people paddled through the waves on the early surfskis. Here the energy of the Southern Ocean could be felt, even on the beach, near where the tail end of the Mozambique current became the Agulhas current and then met the westerly swell of the Southern Ocean as it wrapped around the bottom of Africa.
Fourteen years later in life I went to high school a little way inland from this beach and became interested in motorcycles in preference to boats, but had already designed and built a wooden boat by then. This boat was first floated while on a family holiday further up the coast, in Mozambique, where I also had the opportunity to sail on a Dhow. But other than these watercraft experiences, I was not encouraged by my parents to go boating or sailing; a pity too, because it did not help me finding a way to live a constructive life, until almost a decade later. So as an adolescent my interests turned toward motorbikes instead of boats. This was partly sparked by the idea that macho appeal would be my passport to success with girls if I became a motorcycle ace. I was not keeping up in size with my growing peers and had virtually been chased from the 15 year old’s rugby team, because, standing less than 5 ft tall as a late developer, the only useful position for me was to be suspended with legs hanging free as hooker in the scrum. Meanwhile, other scrum members had grow to 6 ft + and the coach feared that I would be injured. He and shifted me out of there and this seemed to convey to me the message that I was not wanted, so I looked elsewhere for sporting interest.
Thus it was that bikes grabbed my interest. In my neighborhood lived motorcycle racing legends Mike Hailwood and Jim Redman, and in my school class was a future national champion Alan North who was beating future world champion, Korky Ballington, in the tiddler class racing.>>(insert pic that I drew of Agostini and Phil Read with their signatures --when it is found) I was inspired enough to at least dream of joining their ranks to fame, but reality came with a bump when I was threatened with a sever beating if I as much as mentioned ever owning or riding a bike. So, hanging out with friends at the beach, smoking and drinking, was the next best thing I could find to latch onto……my parents smoked, drank and enjoyed a party, making this kind of thing an acceptable or logical thing to do. At that time, in the late 1960’s, the youth revolution was in swing. Woodstock, the movie, first showed in local movie theaters at about this time and the South African coast was becoming known to the surfing world by way of the movie Endless Summer. Right about then, I was uprooted yet again by my parent’s relocation down the coast to the town of Port Elizabeth, which is close by to Jeffries Bay -- the Mecca of South African surfing. I figured that surfing had to be the best substitute for bikes and aspirations of popularity with the opposite sex, along with fitting the counter culture of the youth revolution. But winter cold of the Cape had me longing for warmth and friendships back in Durban, so to cut a long story short, I was set free and headed back to Durban with my surfboard, to live on the beach there.
Some months later I was persuaded to quit living the life of a surf bum, having decided to ‘pull myself together’ and do my bit for the military --as required by conscription. I had actually wanted to join the navy, but was too young for acceptance without my parents signature and they persuaded me to do a shorter stint in the army instead. At that stage in the political history of the country, the army was run by a fascist apartheid government, which was virtually at war with the majority of the population, as well as foreign armies backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Not a good place for a mixed up kid to be. The commanding personnel in this army were open about their sentiments in favour of Hitler and his efforts in the previous world war, so this amongst other things made it difficult to conform. These ideological factors as well as my inherently rebellious stance, was recipe for trouble, so I fell under the influence of other rebellious older types, making what I thought to be the best of a bad situation. Again, to cut a long story short, I went off the rails for a few years, before having a crossroads experience and turning my mind and hands to being productive. Attempts at earning a living in the graphic arts sphere resulted in me being steered toward getting to grips with the technical aspects of printing reproduction, leading to a long apprenticeship in photolithography being served. During this time I made surfboards in preparation for the building of a proa --an Oceanic water craft having a vaka/waka with an ama rigged off the windward side. This outrigger canoe type craft needed researching in order to help develop my design ability; research was something affordable while earning a meagre living, as building one immediately was beyond my means. This research involved delving into history, which kicked off an interest in ancient seafaring that will be illustrated and narrated on this website as an ongoing project.
Surfboards I could make under a tiny porch outside a rented room, but space for something bigger and more complex than a surfboard was more of a problem; enough of a problem to inspire minimalist solutions. The basis for my thinking, and choice of an outrigger canoe may well be founded on ideas I somehow latched onto as a youngster, when my very first attempt to build a model water craft was the time I tied bamboo stalks together, and which resembled an Oceanic sailing canoe. A sail for this model was sewn by my mother, after much pleading, and was a triangular boomed Lateen of red cloth from an old umbrella.
In retrospect I believe that with facilities to build a sailing canoe, I would have taken the plunge and started doing so when in my early twenties. But having no fixed abode, the lure to follow the sun and go surfing had me on the road again. As the years went by, a sense of urgency to start building a sailing boat, a boat that would be my home and escape vehicle, opened my mind to seeking whatever was immediately available and affordable. Once again I landed up in Durban and began looking for any low cost boat hull to buy and begin working on……anything that looked seaworthy would do. As it turned out, there was an old wooden hull (lapstrake teak with oak ribs, all copper fastened, and lying in a portside yard, with a forest of weeds growing in it. >(insert pic of hull as found in Point road yard) This boat was affordable, so in between starting a family and working as a photolithographer, I completed the conversion of this Sloepen (Sloepen is the Dutch word for a double ended workboat, or lifeboat).
Above is a pic of the hull of Jung Jung after the muck and weeds had been cleaned away, and just before being moved to the waterside where the boat was launched some years later.......pic below shows the Durban harbour area where the building work was done.
Basic idea of this project was to create a variation of a Thai Djong (Junk), to which I added sailing rig elements of my own device. At this time I tried SUP for the first time, as can be seen in a preceding pic of me paddling on bamboo raft, which were the sail battens for JungJung.
Jung Jung was lost in a shipwreck during the winter of 1988 in Lagos Portugal, the day after arriving there and after departing Cornwall to cross the Bay of Biscay.
The story of the voyage will be added to this page soon --
After living for a few years in Portugal on a 28 ft steel Bermudan rigged sloop, my son was in need of decent schooling when the news reached us, that Nelson Mandela had been released. With hopes that this would help to turn a new page on South Africa’s history, my son and I headed back there. Arriving in Port Elizabeth, I made it my objective to continue with outrigger sailing canoe (proa) that I had been working on when there 15 years previously. Seafaring and boatbuilding experience gained over the years had helped to gel older design ideas, and I had a definite plan to work on, so was confidant enough to voice my intentions, which interested others. Initially there was some assistance provided by a friend Greg Gardner, which in turn led to contact being made with the Cape Town based Hobie franchise holder – Coast Catamarans. This association influenced the craft design toward something that was a beach toy, rather than a cruising craft with a cabin. A small prototype paddling and sailing proa was developed, and which was based on a design brief for a 15 ft car topper -- a sailing and paddling OC canoe, intended for transport on car surf racks. This design did not lead to no more than a single production craft, built to order.
While busy with development of this canoe I was offered a job to do some patternmaking on a Cobra sports car project for a newly started company called High Tech Automotive. They had been using a GRP body shell made in molds taken from a Contemporary Classics production Cobra kit, and were planning to make hand formed aluminium bodies to go on a chassis of their own design. The existing body showed areas of distortion, inherited somewhere along the line of reproduction, or maybe even evidence of the workmanship that Shelby himself had described as sometimes being bodywork “looking like it had been built by a bunch of winos under a bridge”……..whatever the reason for it’s imperfections, this was the shape of the glassfibre Cobra body in the shop when I started working on it.
For starters, I worked alongside a Welshman, Gareth Edwards, on this project and was then offered a position in the company to do the production tooling. As things were explained to me -- they wanted a set of molds to make a thick and strong GRP body buck, which the metalbashers could use as an aid to shape their hand and English wheel formed panels. However, before this buck was made, it was decided to make 1 composite body for a complete car. This car won a concourse d elegance award at a local Cobra club meet, so another was required…..then another….then another. In due course, 100 of these had been made before the first aluminium bodied car arrived in the paint shop that I had by this time set up at the factory. By this time the company had grown a lot…..starting with handfull of personel, to hundreds, and the goal of producing a car per day for export to the USA was in our sights. The future looked bright and I had very little time for work on the sailing canoes.
Above is the Cobra body plug which I began working on to produce the molds for the Superformance Mk3 car, and below is one of the early bodies outside of the first paint shop at High Tech.
Pictures here tell the story of progress at Hich Tech Automotive --from the rudimentary paint shop above (this building was the first of the original farm sheds to be refurbished), to the newly built final assembly hall below. The trolley is one of those that I made to carry bodies when popped out of the mold and carried off to the body shop, then through the prep stages and the painting process, before being fitted to the chassis assembly. As a comparison, it amuses me to google search and view the current factory, then to look at conditions during the early days shown in these pics.
It might be of interest go anyone following this sriteup of Superformance, to google search www. Superformance .com and go to the page covering the factory the factory section of the website and see what has evolved since these days shown here.
New projects came my way; like the Daytona Coupe replica, which started when one day a kit car from Contemporary Classics was shipped in……. just like the earlier Contemporary Classics kit that had been used to start Cobra production. One look prompted me to suggest that I could craft a body shape more representative of the original Coupe, and the idea was welcomed with the proviso that it should be bigger than the original; to allow space for bigger drivers, since the original Daytona was a really tight squeeze for bigger people. Seeing that I was to spend extra long hours on the project, a shed was built for me at home in my back yard, and this is where shaping of the Daytona started > (show pics of shed and foam plug)
These pics above and below show how the Daytona progressed in my garden shed that had been quickly erected for the task. On the wall is a blown-up drawing taken from a published book on the Shelby Brock Daytona project, which was used as a rough guide to make the plywood templates shown in the top pic. I re-drew the profile to create extra slope to the windscreen, so from the start I was following my own sense of reasoning, but Pete Brock was happy with with the basic shape when he first saw it. Shaping of the foam, was a case of using surfboard shaping skills that I had learned years before. Foam slabs were cut with a hot wire and glued into the plywood structure, before planing to shape.
Once completed, the plug was mocked up with wheels, and pics were taken to show Pete Brock, designer of the original car for Shelby American. Jimmy Price, the High Tech company owner, took his annual trip to the USA and met with Pete Brock, who liked what he saw and decided to come on board
Writing on these pics was done by Pete Brock, which was the first time he had any input on the project and which did not have any real influence on the shape because the prototype built next, was pulled off this very same plug.....without any changes made to the shape.
Lines for vents and rear light (window) did however follow his written/drawn critique.
According to accounts by various sources, including Wikipedia, the Superformance story follows a slightly different sequence to the one that I remember, where my factual version starts at the time a craftsman named Jurgens Niemand asked me to help on a car project he was busy with for the company High Tech Automotive.
As already stated, there was a fibreglass Cobra body in a workshop in Port Elizabeth, which had been made from a mold pulled off a Contemporary Classic Cobra kit by Richard De Beer. Richard, an ex partner of Jimmy Price, ran the company Sabel Air and manufactured glassfibre bodies from this mold, which were supplied to HighTech Automotive. This was before I was employed at Hi Tech, when the change was made to the MK111 bodies from molds that I produced. Some of these Sable Air made bodies are probably among those 31 cars labeled “pre Production” models. At this stage, bodies were fitted to the High Tech made chassis, then sent away for painting elsewhere before being completed back at the factory, and great care was needed to prevent any paint damage and consequent repair. Like those bodies made by Richard De Beer, the first High Tech/Superformance MK 111 body that was pulled from molds which I produced, was painted by an independent spray painter, and then fully assembled at the factory. What I observed to be happening during the panel fit procedure was a technician being loaded into the boot compartment of a Cobra, armed with a spanner and hacksaw. Closing the boot on the guy inside, was another technician, who would shout instructions about where to cut the hinge so that it could be deformed by the cut and shut process; allowing it to be bent for good fit. Banging the boot panel with his fist, either downwards by the guy outside, or upwards by the guy inside, would bring the panel into alignment with the body. Then the hinges would be unbolted and taken to be re welded (usually by an additional technician), before being refitted by the guy packed into the boot once more……… likely more than once, because the welding would have distorted the bracket enough for more cutting and shutting to be required, with yet another trip to the welding shop……accuracy of panel fit was an important mission. Fitting of the various components that pierced the body shell and attached to the chassis, like the Windscreen frame, roll over hoop or quick lift/bumper brackets, demanded trial and error drilling, cutting and filing to get the required fit. This was a messy and time-consuming exercise to be undertaking alongside the imported cars in the final assembly area…..imported CKD cars, as described later. In order to remedy to this procedure, I made jigs for marking and drilling all holes prior to painting, as well as a body to chassis fitment jig, which suspended the body shell over it’s designated chassis, correct with respect to X,Y and Z axis’. This allowed all panel fit and drilling to be done in the body shop before either any body or chassis had been painted. At the same time, bonnet, boot and door hinges could be welded in stages, for near perfect fit, and without a technician climbing into and being locked in a boot compartment. This custom fit procedure was necessary because of small variations due to initial welding or composite panel distortion.
Although the Superformance body shape had been corrected to some degree in comparison to the Contemporary Classic Kit Cobra, besides being modified in areas like the nose aperture and fender valances, it was not 100% symmetrical on either side of a centreline. Reason for this was that it was made on a trolley in the middle of a metal bashers shop, not unlike the original AC produced cars…….. (show pic of me and ally body in Jurgens’ shop)………………………rather than being matched to perfectly squared off points either side of a common axis. Blow of the eye judgment was more important, or so said the metal bashers who were hand forming the aluminium bodies in the shop at that time.
My body fitment jig took care of these minor body aberrations, and allowed production numbers to grow the factory quite considerably….1995 was the year that I started up the paint shop to finish cars ‘in house’, and about 500 MK 111 Cobras had been built using this body jig system by the time I left 6 years later. 1995 was also the year that the Contemporary Classic Daytona Coupe arrived at High Tech. By this time I had moved on from being in charge of paint shop operations and took charge of the composites division after Jimmy’s original partner Richard De Beer had relocated to new premises. Jimmy had by then bought the small farm that became solely Hi Tech Automotive premises.
Pics here, show the jig system that I designed and built to facilitate Cobra production --a series of identical jigs allowed unpainted panel fitment on a designated chassis, after which the body would go in one direction for prep and paint, while the chassis and inner panels went off separately for painting and assembly of mechanical components. Later on they would be jig re-united at the final assembly stage. Bottom pic shows how the body is positioned over it's designated chassis/inner panel assembly, with no contact points to cause surface distortion and show as imperfection through the paint. Since minimal mechanical assembly is done on a painted car, work is more easily done and there is invariably a saving on costly repair of damaged paintwork.
Records on the Superformance website show that 1994 was the year that the first 24 production Cobra MK111’s were made. But maybe this so called authorized narrative does not include the first body out of the mold that I had made, which was produced in 1993. This was the car that won the concourse d’elegance of the SA Cobra Club meet that same year. By April of 96, a recorded number of 100 composite cars had been produced……this is when the first hand made alumium body –the one which Jurgens Niemand made -- was painted. …..So in this period of little more than 2 years, I had made a 2nd set of of cobra molds, a body buck for Jurgens, jigs and fixtures for production, set up the first paint shop and done body and panel fitment for all of these 100 cars. All work was done either in the original ramshackle buildings, or alongside builders doing renovations of the original farm sheds; really messy construction conditions to complicate matters.
By now the income generated by assembly of CKD and then SKD vehicle imports had largely been supplanted by the sales of MK 111 Cobra’s, although Ford Detroit trucks continued to be imported for a while: never mentioned in any account of the Superformance story, that I have read on the web, is it told that the factory initially subsisted on the profits of the CKD and SKD imported cars like Ford Explorer SUV’s, as well as luxury and sports cars. Originally, only a number of about half a dozen or so early employees were kept busy assembling the import vehicles, and besides these, a roughly equal amount of permanent employees were dedicated to machining, fabrication, upholstery and body shop tasks. There were also casual work hands and builders, some of whom lived on the land surrounding the premises, and as well there was the Sable Air laminating shop, which worked for High Tech on a contract basis.
CKD and then SKD assembly of Toyota RAV’s, Porches and other sports cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Corvette, Dodge Viper, Mercedes, even a Bently saloon, made the other work look less glamorous, but sure kept things humming.………….. The paint shop which I set up, did panel repair work on the odd Lamborghini or Bently…….(show some pics) , so we in the composites tooling, body panel fitment and paint shop had our work cut out covering the various needs on both sides of the operation. Hands on work with very little time for coffee drinking session type meetings made things happen while getting established and building the first 100 Cobras. Meetings of a few minutes to discuss problems involved speaking to Jimmy Price himself, who would endorse any suggested plan of action to keep things moving.
Diablo SKD in the old assembly area, with a Corvette visible just behind, At times ther would be Ferraris, Porches, Dodge Vipers and maybe a Merc SLK to be seen as well, before Cobras became the standard fare. Below pic shows the Diablo parked over the original farm inspection pit, before going off to the owner.
It has been narrated that there was a fibreglass workshop at High Tech from the outset, and is true that Jimmy was at one time involved in making swimming pools with a glass fibre chopper gun, so he is correct in a selective sense of the word that it all began before my time there. However, the more interesting fact is that the farm which Jimmy bought to house Hi Tech, had originally been a cottage industry operation started and owned by a Mr. Robinson, who made beach buggy’s there, besides producing other things on the farming side.
Resin suppliers visiting the factory would tell me how Mr Robinson made his own polyester on the premises, and he also made a VW Beetle based car called the Zeus as well as the beach buggy’s. Some of his laminators then went on to work for Richard and Jimmy, when in partnership they made MG roadster replicas, as well as the Cobras. These same laminators then worked under my supervision when Richard left, and they helped to make a splash mold of the Contemporary Daytona that had been bought by Jimmy with the idea of reproduction. I had taken one look at it when it arrived and offered to make a better representation of the original Daytona, whereupon Jimmy said OK, you make a car as you see fit but quickly make a splash mold of the kit car first.
For the High Tech Daytona task, I felt I could better apply myself working without interruption by doing the creative work at my own home, but did not have the facilities to do so. Consequently, Jimmy sent some of the factory building crew to work at my home and help build a work shed, and by the beginning of 1996 I was able to start working on the first Daytona plug. This I did at the end of the day, after seeing to production of Cobra bodies at the factory.
There never was drawing supplied by Peter Brock for me to follow, as has been written by people wish to spin yarns: work was done purely by a creative sculpting process, using published photographs of the original cars as a guide. Before starting work on the body, Jimmy had decided that increasing the wheelbase and track over the original dimensions would be an improvement, so this was the only data I worked from. Although a fairly large-scale blow-up of a printed drawing, which probably was taken from a diagram in a book on the Coupe done by Pete Brock, was used as a rough guide to make a start. After cutting a plywood template following the elevated profile lines taken from my own scale drawing, the rest of the shape was made by an ‘eyeballing process’ while shaping the foam…..(show pics of the plug in progress –in the shed at home). Once the shape had been created, it was back to the factory for finishing with a GRP skin and filler. Then the plug was prepped and painted in readiness for pulling a mold.
At this stage it was mocked up with wheels and paper ‘windows’, then pictures were taken and first shown to Pete Brock when Jimmy made his annual trip to the USA. Lines drawn on these pics by Pete were the first in the way of any input from him on the project, but had little to no influence on the no1 prototype and first mold: I needed to get the ball rolling on progress with tooling up for the windscreen glass and headlight lenses, so could not wait to find out exactly what was meant by some of the cryptic writing on the pics. I went ahead using my own judgment, as it was from the start, and kept the ball rolling. Making the windscreen meant slotting into the production schedule of a large factory, which made glass parts for a number of the major vehicle manufacturers in the region. So any delay, such as working to instructions from Pete Brock over in America, was fortunately not the case.
Above is a pic of first Dayona --the actual prototype -- made before Pete Brock visited the High Tech factory. The car was finished minutes before this pic was taken, just in time for the Cobra CLub meet, when wheeled into the newly built Cobra final assembly hall.
Above and below are pics taken when Pete Brock eventually visited the HiTech factory and spent about a week authorising and directing changes to the current master plug. Here we are working on someof the tweaks to the master pattern/plug. The pic below shows Jimmy Price along with Pete Brock and myself, shortly before Pete left the factory, and flew back to the USA. From that time on, I made another set of molds to produce the 'One Lap' race car (supposedly the "prototype" Shelby Daytona Coupe), and then made more changes before yet more molds were made to icorporated changes to the roofline, which I considered to be something that Pete would approve of.
As it was when working on the prototype, I had to do a 48 hour shift,in ordert to finish the car just in time for the yearly SA Cobra Club meet held at the High Tech factory ….(show pics of car No1 in final assembly hall, finished an hour before the meet.....pic is still missing and must be uploaded). This was 1996, and was more than a couple of years before Pete Brock visited the factory and advised on tweaks to the body shape. Subsequent to these changes, another mold was made and a single car produced for the ‘One Lap’ event, which was driven by Dennis Olthoff in the race, It is this race car that is sometimes called the “prototype Coupe”, and it had a roofline which I thought could be improved upon, so I made more changes and yet another mold before leaving High Tech. Furthermore, in order to build the ‘One Lap’ race car I had to redesign the rear end of the chassis, because drawings supplied by Bob Negstad were stalling the chassis fabricators progress to the extent that I worried about us missing the deadline in completing and flying the car to America. It was impossible to fit the differential and drive shafts into the chassis that Bob had drawn. So in order to create all the inner panels, the doors, the seats, the dashboard and fuel tank compartment etc…. I had to build a rolling chassis on which to work. Fitting the differential was as important as Bob’s suspension, so in order to do this, I carried the main chassis members up and over the diff, then included a removable triangular frame below, bracing the rear suspension lower A arm pick-up points. This modified chassis also included mounting points for the rollover bar and members to support the tail, along with spare wheel tray -- None of which had been featured on drawings by Negstad.
This was the chassis then copied by the race department fabricators, and judging from evidence available to me, it is the same chassis design used on the production cars eventually built.
With my eye for sculptural form that has followed the shape of this car, starting from a mental image, through to the pre-production model, I can spot exactly where any changes have been made to the lines during the entire build process. In it’s final form there have been only tweaks to the first shape I carved, which is in contradiction to some of what I read on the web.
Before starting the job, I had studied a pile of literature, including many pictures of the 6 original cars. Differences between the originals and reasons for variations were noted. Choosing which of the various shapes was best representative of the concept sketch drawn by Pete Brock (seen in the published books) was the main challenge, and in the end Pete’s general approval validated the choices made. For instance I had initially opted for swooping lines along the top of the doors, presenting a ‘coke bottle’ look rather than the straight lines on the later cars of the 6 originals. However, the less hollow door contours (matching the later cars, of the original 6) was a trial modification made to the prototype, which was preferred by Jimmy Price. This ‘masculine’ look made it’s way into all subsequent cars.
Above and below are pics takenjust before I left Hi Tech, and which show changes to the roofline, made subsequant to building the 'One Lap' race car, which has been called the prototype....pics of the original prototype will follow.
When the Daytona plug left my backyard work shed, it was replaced with another car project. This was the Stilleto 3 wheel car .(show pic of Stilleto) Built as a project I had hoped would give reason for spending time with my son – we had sailed across the North Atlantic together in JungJung when he was a little boy, but had not done much together since then. As it turned out he wanted a motorbike to go off and spend time with his girlfriend, so that is what he did instead. In retrospect, my ideas were either outdated or else not dated enough, because a decade later the Morgan 3 wheeler was reintroduced. The Stiletto was a car based on a 1960’s schoolboy idea and by the late 1990’s, schoolboy’s ideas had changed a lot. So my son at least got to have a motorbike, which I was denied when his age, but we pretty much parted ways at that point.
I used the Stilletto as road transport to work, in preference to riding a bike, because having the breeze blowing through my hair felt a lot better than wearing a crash helmet while on a bike, and this sentiment holds true to boats as well………no AC style helmets for me when sailing, thanks!
During the period of intense work on cars, very little progress had been made with the sailing canoes; only a new rig or two being tried during each year. There was the sailboard rig on the 15 footer then there was the curved mast rig on the 18 footer and also a double luff Bolger/AYRS type rig tried on the 18Footer. This last experiment did not last long enough to even be photographed before having the mast broken during a knockdown when the crew jumped onto it while trying to prevent himself falling into the sea. Following these experiments, a crab claw/Oceanic Lateen sail was tried along with a rigging system that I had devised to make single handed sailing possible when using a traditional type sail. Sailing this 23 footer took more time in transporting, launching and rigging, than much use at the end of a days work allowed, so another OC was on the cards......a purely paddling craft. Time for the beach became possible, because by this time Superformance manufacturing was well and truly up and running. The company had arguably become the largest privately owned car manufacturer in the world, and I had decided to knock off work at normal time like the rest of the employees. I wanted a paddling OC to carry on a car rack for quick launching >(show pic of 6???M OC). The time passed since my arrival back in SA was almost 10 years, and with the new millennium came the Sydney Olympics. As well, an invitation for my wife Pamela to attend a company outing, which was a trip to watch the Olympics, and included partners. She was doing very well in her profession and was being rewarded. This excursion timed with events at HiTech Automotive that presented me with serious doubts about my future in the company, something that was well and truly confirmed by the subsequent lack of acknowledgement shown for my input in the Daytona Coupe project, and which gave me reason to contemplate a move.
Most of my siblings were already Australian citizens, and HiTech Owner Jimmy Price asked me to deliver a factory promotional item to the new Superformance agent in South Australia while I was visiting my brother nearby. This company brochure included a picture of the Hi Tech composite division’s employees, and to my surprise I was missing from the pic. After all I had been doing to help the factory grow, it was ominous to see that I was apparently not even worthy of inclusion........seemed like a good idea to look for alternative opportunities. From Australia, we popped over to NZ to visit my wife’s daughter who had been living in Auckland for some years, and from the moment I landed, NZ began to look like my kind of place. It got better as I began to see the potential for water-based activity, as at that time the Americas Cup was held in Auckland. Sailing was very much upbeat, and outrigger canoeing was a fairly fast growing sport too. During our stay we made contact with immigration agents and left NZ hoping to return, which wasn’t long, because within months we had been granted acceptance as permanent NZ residents. This meant we needed to get back within a year to have passports stamped, even if not to take up residence. So, toward the end of the year we were back in Auckland for this purpose, and this was when I first visited Whangarei. During this visit I spoke to a guy paddling a waka ama (local OC canoe) in the harbour, who told me that the manufacturer of his waka was based nearby on the Tutukaka coast. Having time on my hands I stopped in at the Moana Nui Polynesian paddling canoe shop on my way past there and was met by the owner Kris Kjeldsen. He enquired whether I had come about the job interview, as he had apparently placed an advert in the local media offering the position of shop foreman. Within a short space of time we had come to an agreement that I would return with molds that I had back in South Africa and join his company. Our agreement was to improve tooling and systems to manufacture canoes of both his and my own designs, including sailing canoes, which we both felt were part of the outrigger canoe lifestyle. This undertaking began near the beginning of 2001.
Readers of the High Tech narrative may be interested to see how the factory has grown, by doing a google search of Superformance Replicars.
Wahu model solo paddling outrigger canoes (above) were produced in NZ Aotearoa by Southern Outrigger manufacturing during the first decade of the new milenium. Changes in competition regulations brought an end to this line of production.