It appears to be that time of year for the precarious and dangerous pursuit of record breaking speed on water to be contested around the world.
Currently leading the charge in terms of speed is the Aussie team of father Ken Warby and son David in their home built hydroplane Australia 2, powered by a jet engine from an Italian fighter aircraft. Ironically the speed record they are attempting to break is currently held by none other than Ken Warby in his 1st generation hydroplane. The Australian challenge does not receive the international credit it deserves as Ken’s record of 511 km/h was set 30 plus years ago and has not had a serious challenger since.
Ken Warby’s record breaking hydroplane ‘Australia 1’ – Photo: Karl Bayer
From Italy the design genius Fabio Buzzi, now in his mid 70s, has created a three pointer powered by a diesel FTP 16 litre engine producing 1700hp that started life in a tractor. Buzzi’s factory in Briaza has churned out record breakers for over four decades, and I can recall thundering across Lake Como in his four engine offshore rig which raced under many names including CESA 1882. I had my eyes shut when the outfit topped 105 mph, but Buzzi looked completely at ease wearing a pair of motorcycle goggles to protect his eyes from the wind. His latest diesel powered three pointer has topped 277 km/h which makes it eligible for the Guinness Book of Records as a new world record for diesel powered hydroplane, but it remains to be seen if the UIM or the Italian powerboat authorities will accept it as I’m not sure if they are fans of the controversial Italian legend.
Fabio Buzzi in his FPT Three Pointer Hydroplane – Photo: Studio Borlernghi
Lastly the Americans are at it again in the shape of Reggie Fountain’s son Reggie Jnr. They are going for a offshore monohull record in a Fountain hull, but have yet to find the ideal weather as strong winds have resulted in two postponements already. Powered by two Sterling V8s the craft has topped 180 mph during testing, but to hit their target of 200 mph conditions have to be perfect.
Reggie Fountain Jnr’s monohull
A recent offshore catamaran world speed record in 2014 was a joint US-UK effort headed by Britain’s Steve Curtis aboard an American built mystic catamaran originally called Spirit of Qatar powered by twin 4000hp Lycoming 355 turbine engines as fitted in Chinook helicopters. The craft topped 244 mph, which is remarkably quick for an offshore catamaran.