Warby family returns to Blowering Dam in Australia for high-speed jet-propelled trials of Spirit of Australia II.
In the annals of Australian power-boating history, nothing has stood the test of time like Ken Warby’s self-made water speed record set on November 20, 1977 of 288.60mph, only to be bettered by the fastest man on water on October 8, 1978, when he went 317.60mph or 511.11km/h. That milestone still stands today, but not if his son David has his way.
David Warby is having a crack at his dad’s record on the hallowed waters of Blowering Dam in Tumut, which were closed to boating on the weekend of October 23-24 to facilitate speed trials of Spirit of Australia II. Unfortunately, electrical malfunctions and windy weather conspired to set back the team after a run of more than 110mph. But speed boating at this level can’t leave anything to chance.
Ken and David Warby
Ken’s famous boat, Spirit of Australia, was designed and built from fibreglass in Warby’s back yard in suburban Concord in Sydney. It was driven and propelled by a Westinghouse jet engine bought at auction for $69. There was no seat belt in the rudimentary cockpit, as Ken believed good boat design and ability would see him through the other side. He was right…
Italian fighter aircraft jet engine
SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA – SPEED RECORDS
July 9, 1974 – 166.38mph (267.54km/h) at Lake Munmorah, NSW
March 14, 1976 – 193.17mph (310.88 km/h) at Blowering Dam, NSW
September 17, 1977 – 214.78mph (345.66 km/h) at Blowering Dam, NSW
October 30, 1977 – 246.77mph (397.15 km/h) at Blowering Dam, NSW
November 20, 1977 – 288.60mph (464.45km/h) at Blowering Dam, NSW (World Record)
October 8, 1978 – 317.60mph (511.11 km/h) at Blowering Dam, NSW (Current World Record)
On the 30th anniversary of his 1977 speed record, Ken announced his retirement from further record attempts. But he and his son David have been working on a new boat, Spirit of Australia II, to break the record. The boat has been in built in Newcastle and had taken more than five years to complete. It, too, is powered by a jet engine — from an Italian fighter plane, with 50 per cent more power that Ken’s original Westinghouse.
SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA II
Spirit of Australia II is the new second-generation, Outright Unlimited World Water Speed Record Challenger by Warby Motorsport. Designed by Ken, it is said to be a new and improved version of the original Spirit of Australia.
Ken and Dave examined the information collected from the two world records in Spirit of Australia, then set about making small improvements in the hull design to ensure the new boat would be a record breaker. It’s already undergone initial trails on the Manning River in Taree, NSW, and now a run on Blowering Dam.