QUICKSILVER WSR and NIGEL MACKNIGHT
BBC Archive Report Monday, 1 October, 2001
Rivals prepare for speed challenge
British challenger Nigel MacKnight American challenger Russ Wicks
the most dangerous speed record in the world, and many of those who have
tried to break it have died. The quest to be the fastest human
being on water has inspired generations of speed fanatics.
Australian Ken Warby propelled his jet boat to a staggering 317.6 mph,
back in 1978, many people thought the limit had been reached. In
1967, Donald Campbell was killed trying to break the 300 mph barrier.
His boat Bluebird took off, flipped over and disappeared.
Ken Warby's garage-built boat is waiting in the wings
year has finally seen the recovery of Bluebird, and the body of
Campbell, from the depths of Coniston Water in the Lake District.
By coincidence, this renewed interest in one of Britain's greatest
record breakers comes as three men are preparing to do battle over the
water speed crown.
In the Australian corner is Ken Warby, still the fastest man on water, who has built a new boat to try to ensure he holds onto that 23-year-old record. But this time his son Dave may be the driver.
principal challenger is Nigel Macknight, who aims to bring the record
back to Britain with his boat Quicksilver. Construction is underway, and
his futuristic craft should be in the water next year. But a third
hat has now been thrown into the ring. American challenger Russ Wicks
already holds the record for the fastest propeller-driven boat, with a
speed of 205 mph.
Now he wants the big prize, and he has put together a consortium that includes aerospace and motor racing engineers. Their boat is still at the design stage. Nigel Macknight relishes the prospect of a three-way fight.
contest for the record was almost moribund, so it's wonderful it is all
coming together in this way," he says. "Competition
can provide a tremendous spur. It will help us all to raise our game as
we try to beat one another." As the record holder, Warby is
dismissive about his rivals, and says he will wait to see how they fare
before he enters the fray.
who is building a boat at the moment is going to break my record,"
he told News Online. "I would
like to see it happen, then I will let my son Dave take out the boat and
push the record up to 400 mph."
Warby believes that even higher speeds will be achieved in future.
"One day someone will go through the sound barrier on water,"
he predicts. But although he says that driving his previous boat
was "very easy", he is in no doubt about the risks involved in
going for the record:
takes a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication, and you do not want to
enter into it lightly. It is extremely dangerous." The
Australian, who now lives in America, built his new boat in his garage.
He thinks that if someone does take his record, it will be a lot easier
to get sponsorship from his home country, as national pride will be at
stake. "But at the moment, we're just sitting and
waiting," he says.
You get the impression that he would relish a fight to retain his crown, and he has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals. "So far there is a lot of talk out there," he says. "So let's see them put their throttle foot where their mouth is."
Nigel Macknight won't be drawn into a war of words. His response:
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have got to be
sporting to one another." Since
the 1920s, the world water speed record has been held by Britain, the
United States and Australia. So it seems appropriate that the old rivals
are once again preparing to take to the water. The spirit of
Donald Campbell and Bluebird is still alive.
Oct 01 | UK Quicksilver
aims for speed record
01 Oct 01 | UK Quicksilver aims for speed record
WATER SPEED RECORD HISTORY
On June 26, 1950, on Lake Washington near Sand Point, driver Stan Sayres and riding mechanic Ted Jones became the fastest men on water with a mile straightaway record of 160.323 mph in the Slo-mo-shun IV. In July of 1952, Stan Sayres raised his own straightaway record to 178.497 in Lake Washington's East Channel.
Donald Campbell in a non-propeller-driven craft obliterated Stan Sayres record on July 23, 1955. Campbell's jet-powered Bluebird II averaged 202.32 mph over a kilometer course on Lake Ullswater in England.
In 1967 American Lee Taylor reclaimed the record that Donald Campbell had taken from Sayres. Ten years later Ken Warby, an Australian made a successful attempt, which in 1978 he extended to 317.60 MPH. Warby still holds the record, which has withstood all challenges.
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