Peter Lindenberg is one of South Africa’s sporting heroes, having won multiple championships in waterskiing and Formula One Power Boating, and competed at the top level internationally.
After a huge accident which nearly claimed his life in 2002 atSaldanhaBay, he has focussed exclusively on car-racing, and currently builds racing cars for customers and races himself in the Historic Racing category at tracks all over the country.
He visited the
this weekend, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gauteng Boat Retailers Association.
Q: Peter did this award come as a big surprise to you?
PL: Absolutely, it was the last thing I expected, it came out of the blue.
Q: Did you think the boating world had forgotten about you?
PL: I’m not going to say that, but I stopped racing in 2002 and I sold my business (Lindenberg Marine) in the 1990s.
Q: But you’ve kept contact with all your boating friends?
PL: Oh yeah, l’m especially close to the guys at Twin Boats and Trailers, because it was my business that gave them their start. They came to us as customers wanting a boat they could borrow. They didn’t have the money for a trailer and they asked me if I could lend them a boat so that they could model a trailer around it. So I said sure. This was back in the 1980s.
They came and showed me what they’d done and I thought, wow, these guys can really build a trailer. I was selling hundreds of boats in those days. So I gave them a start, helped them get the boating side of their trailer business going. And then they got into boats and they build excellent products.
Q: You had a fantastic career in boating both as a skier and a pilot?
PL: Yeah, I was a Springbok water-skier from 1977 to 1981 and I won the World Jump Championship in ’81, I won the European Championships in ’77 and then I went into water ski racing and I won the SA champs in the early ‘80s.
Q: You also won the SA Powerboat Championships on numerous occasions?
PL: I won it 15 times. I was leading the World Championships in 1989 by a country mile, but they banned me from two races for being a South African in what was still the apartheid era. So I finished second.
So I’ve got good memories and good memories of the boating industry too, because I was successful
Q: You’ve competed on the race track for a few decades now in cars. Is racing a top-level boat more hairy, or more extreme, than racing a car?
PL: There’s no question. Your reactions in a boat are different. With car racing you react at the time, in boat racing you’ve got be pre-emptive, you’ve got to predict what’s coming and react before it goes wrong. You’ve got to read the water, read the air, and once you’ve had the accident, you have the drowning factor, which of course you don’t have in a c ar.
Q: Do you remember your big accident, what actually happened?
PL: Well I had two, I had the one in 1991 inMalaysia, and then the one in 2002 at Saldanha. Both of them, the boat bounced and nose-dived at 200 km/h. In the last big one, I got thrown into the side of the cockpit and the carbon-fibre sliced my helmet open, all around my head. The amazing thing was, it only sliced my hair off, I didn’t have so much as a cut on my head.
Q: But you had much greater injuries?
PL: My heart stopped, because I actually drowned. They put drips into me and fibrillating machines straight into my heart. I was in a coma in a hospital in Cape Town for five days.
Q: So you don’t remember the actual shunt?
PL: I remember the day, and then waking up in hospital. The rest I don’t remember. They say the mind does that, it blanks that trauma out, to give you a chance to recover. Some people say I’ve never come right since!
Q: You operate your race car business these days. Is that in Malmesbury?
PL: Yes, I build race cars. I’ve built about five Capri Perana race cars for clients this past year. Next weekend I’m racing a Ford Escort up here in Gauteng, which is great, because I started my track career in a Ford Escort, back in the early 1980s.
Q: What do you think of the Johannesburg Boat Show?
PL: I think it’s a great show. Especially considering the tough times the boating industry has been going through. It tugs at the heart strings seeing all this.
JOHANNESBURG BOAT SHOW
From Friday 24 – Sunday 26 August 2012. Gates open each day at 10am and close at 5pm, Show will remain open until 6pm. Tickets are available at the gate or through Computicket.
Johannesburg Expo Centre,Rand Show Road, Nasrec. (GPS – S26° 14.810’ E27° 58.695’)