July 15, 2016 12:00 pm 16 comments Views: 1854



Pictured above Slo Mo Shun 1 in a museum
Click pic for rare 1950s film from Seattle crash and disintegration of the Slo Mo Shun 5

A deadly record you have to really want. Nearly 85% percent of the drivers that have made a serious attempt at the World’s Water Speed Record have died trying.

In 1980, Lee Taylor, a previous record holder, was set to attempt to blast his rocket propelled speed boat to over 550mph to break the record on Lake Tahoe in Nevada aboard the Discovery II. He never got the chance.

Weather conditions prevented his attempt, but Taylor decided to excite the live crowd attending his attempt with an exhibition run. His first run topped 269 mph and then to 350mph when the boat apparently hit a swell, pulled to the left, and – according to witnesses – just fell apart. Taylor died. His body was pulled from the lake the following day. He was still strapped to the cockpit. (click picture below for video- viewer discretion)

Click picture to see the American Speed Ace disintegrate his boat at over 350mph on Lake Tahoe.



Craig Arfon in the Rain X Challenger
Click pic for ill fated world water speed record attempt.

In 1989, Craig Arfons built an all-carbon fiber boat, the Rain X Challenger. It took to the water in Jackson Lake, Florida, reaching a speed of 263 mph. The Challenger went into the air and did several rotations. The boat disintegrated, killing Arfons.

Donald Campbell had set a previous record of 276.333 mph in 1964 and was trying to set a new record in 1967 when he died. His boat and body weren’t recovered until March, 2001 when divers in England pulled the remains of Donald Campbell’s boat, Bluebird, from the bottom of Coniston Waters. Several months later, they would find Campbell’s remains nearby.

Campbell was trying for the record in 1967 and had topped 300mph when the boat’s nose lifted, and the boat flew more than 50 feet into the air. The boat blew apart and Campbell was killed. (video below)

The World’s Unlimited Water Speed Record is the officially recognized fastest speed achieved by a water-borne vehicle. The current record of 511 km/h (317 mph) was achieved in 1978 by Ken Warby in the Spirit of Australia (picture below)


Click picture to see film documentary of The World’s Fastest Boat an other brave men who cast their fate to the wind.
Listen to these men who made these attempts, Campbell’s, Arfon’s, Breedlove, Green, Taylor, Warby and others as they undertake the challenge.
Some made it, most did not.
After all this is an 85% plus mortality rate line of work.


From 1909 to 1927 the record was an unofficial listing from the organizers of powerboat races.

In 1928 the record category was officially established.

From 1930 the rules of the record stipulated that a craft must make two runs over a timed kilometer course in opposite directions, with the record being the average speed of the two runs.

The record is currently ratified by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM).  With an approximate fatality rate of 85% since 1940, the record is one of the sporting world’s most hazardous competitions.
Ken Warby (born 9 May 1939) is an Australian motorboat racer, who currently holds the World’s Water Speed Record of 317.60 miles per hour (511.13 kilometers per hour). This was set at Blowering Dam, part of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, near Tumut, New South Wales, roughly 250 miles (400 km) south-south west of Sydney, on 8 October 1978.

As a child, Warby’s hero was Donald Campbell, who died attempting to break the record in 1967.

KEN WARBY 4Warby designed the hull of his record-breaking boat, Spirit of Australia, himself and built it in his backyard.

He started the project as a Makita salesman who happened to team up with two Leading Aircraft Men at RAAF Base Richmond in the early 1970s. Crandall and Cox were instrumental in installing and engineering the Westinghouse engine that was not in working order when first obtained. The Spirit was covered with a canvas tarpaulin when it rained and was made of wood and fibreglass. Warby was able to obtain the jet engine himself as military surplus; obtained from an auction for only $69.

TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT- 85% FATALITY RATEOn 20 November 1977, he set the World’s Water Speed Record of 288.60 mph (464.46 km/h), breaking the record of Lee Taylor by a little over 3 mph. With a subsequent 306 mph and 328.96 mph run, he became the first and only person to exceed 300 mph (482 km/h) on water and live to tell the tale; Donald Campbell died on his attempt after his hydroplane crashed at over 320 mph on his return run in his 1967 record attempt.

Warby’s record still stands, and the 300 mph barrier has never again been exceeded. (video of record below)

Can anyone break this record ?

Did you see that boat sponson walking ?

How close to disaster was he ?

Brock Craven, Sports news


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