New speed records are born with each new day, and some people take the challenge of breaking certain records very seriously. So far, I’ve written about broken speed records in air, on land, and on tracks. Today, I will introduce to you a new form of man made crafts, a machine that is capable of going so fast to the point where hitting a bug is like hitting a bullet and punching water is like punching steel. I think my metaphors speak for themselves; I’m talking about innovation in the world of speed, but this time in a new risky environment. According to CNNTech.com, “Call it a need for speed. For some sailors, breaking water speed records is more than a hobby — it’s a competitive and dangerous obsession.” Some sailors take water speeds to the extreme; Ken Warby is one of the those people, and he still holds the unbroken record of the engineer and owner of the world’s fastest boat.
According to artofsailing.com, “A record for the fastest man driven speed boat was set back on the October 8, 1978 when Ken Warby piloting “The Spirit of Australia” set the world water speed record of 317.6 mph (511 km/h) on the Tumut River near the Blowering Dam in Australia.” Warby designed and built the Spirit of Australia himself, using balsa wood, fiberglass, and Westinghouse J34 jet engine. The engine he used for his boat was not a normal engine; it was developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company in the late 40′s and used for jet fighters and other aircraft. This particular jet engine produced 5000 HP, which is more powerful than 10 semi trucks. According to Anmm.gov.au, “Warby was fascinated with the idea of breaking the world speed record from a young age. As a child he built his own models and power crafts to race on water, setting the scene for his eventual world record attempts.”
I know 317 mph is not necessarily a crazy number, especially if we compare it to recent numbers I’ve written about in earlier posts, but high water speeds are very hard and dangerous to reach due to the severe nature of racing on water. Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives trying to break Warby’s record only to fail horribly.
According to artofsailing.info, “recently in year 2010, the new speed boat called Phenomenon was unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show boasting the title of World’s Fastest Speedboat. The 12,000 HP beast can do over 250 mph. Engineers from NASA and Boeing and former US military naval architects collaborated on the 56-ft. craft with the aim of breaking the world’s propeller speedboat record, spending millions of dollars in the process. No speed records for this boat are recorded though.” Ironically enough, that is America’s way of trying to beat Australia, because America presumably one of the most advanced nations in technology should come first without competition.
It is extremely exciting to read about Warby and his obsession in speed and engineering. From my perspective, Warby and I have a lot in common, such as the love for speed and taking risks, and that is what inspired me to write this article.