Hentie van Rooyen is probably best remembered for building his ‘floating’ Botel on the Knysna lagoon that opened in 1958, but he was a fine boatbuilder too and cabinet maker. He was also the country’s first official waterski instructor, along with his wife, Rita, and trained Deirdre Barnard (Dr Chris Barnard’s daughter and Springbok skier ) on a slalom ski of his own construction.

In this photo ( l-r ) are Barry Barnard, Dr Chris Barnard, Hentie and Dr Andries van Zyl after a successful fishing trip in one of his boats. The downward ‘swoosh’ detail on the side of hull looks to have been his signature. The boat in the rear of the photo has it too.

The most beautiful example of a Hentie van Rooyen speedboat in perfect condition, displaying the maker’s badge, is this one owned by Bennie Kriegler, bought by his father when he was 17 years old. The boat is 60 years old this year. It is also still on its original trailer except the wheels were changed to the 16inch spoked rims off a 1932 Ford V8.

The red and white steering wheel and speedo are original as is the maker’s badge on the dashboard.

Another Hentie van Rooyen design is this fishing boat with his trademark windscreen, last seen in the Industrial Area In 2016. Any news on the whereabouts of this boat and it’s condition would be appreciated.


Hentie passed away in Somerset West on June 28, 2002, a Knysna boatbuilding legend!