World Water Speed Record Challengers

The world water speed record (317mph or 511 km/h) is under assault from 3 teams. The defending world record holder, Ken Warby is up for the challenge, as are teams from the USA and the UK.

The USA and the UK were locked in a 58 year-old patriotic battle to capture the world water speed record until the Australian, Ken Warby, crashed the party and captured the record in 1977. His homemade, jet-propelled boat called Spirit of Australia achieved 288mph (463 km/h). Then, in 1978, he posted the current record of 317mph (511 km/h) in the same boat after overhauling his military-surplus jet engine to produce full thrust.

No discussion of water speed records is complete without mention of the Englishman, Donald Campbell – the most prolific world water speed record breaker of all time. His Bluebird K7, jet-propelled 3-point hydroplane successively raised the world water speed record 7 times between 1955 and 1964, from 178mph (287 km/h) to 276mph (444 km/h). His final attempt to break the 300mph barrier ended in his tragic death as he made his return run on Coniston Water, England. All subsequent attempts to break the record would adopt the jet-propelled, 3-point hydroplane design pioneered in Cambell's Bluebird K7.

Clearly these hydroplanes are not ordinary boats, sharing many characteristics with very low flying aircraft. In order to maximize speed, it is necessary to minimize the boat's drag. Given that water is approximately 800 times as dense as air, it takes 800 times more force to propel the same object at the same speed through water compared to air, due to drag. So you can see why these boats are designed for flying (or planing). A rudder at the rear and 2 sponsons (floats) with runners (small vertical fins) in the water qualify the craft as a boat and maintain some semblance of stability. I say some semblance of stability because these boats are notoriously unstable with the slightest disturbance in the water having catastrophic effects. Nearly 50% of the world water speed record attempts result in a fatality.

So what of these latest contenders?


Quicksilver (UK) is a well organized, large team supported by sponsorship and fund raising activities. Their progress toward a record attempt in 2009 is progressing well, if slowly, through wind-tunnel and tow-tank tests. The team will use a Rolls-Royce Spey jet engine after purchasing a complete Blackburn Buccaneer airplane that also serves as their engine testbed. The team's initial design was conceived by Ken Norris who, with his brother Lewis, designed the Bluebird K7 for Donald Campbell.

American Challenge WSR

American Challenge WSR (USA) has a preliminary design concept that, according to its website, " being designed utilizing interactive 3D virtual prototypes in a CAD-neutral collaborative environment. Extensive fluid dynamic simulation, wind tunnel modeling, and water tank testing will also be employed."

Aussie Spirit

Aussie Spirit (Australia) is Ken Warby's homemade successor to his original record breaking Spirit of Australia boat. Of the 3 contenders, Warby's is the only one to have seen water in a successful test performed in June 2005. However, no more current news is available.

The well funded US and UK teams have access to advanced (and costly) Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) tools through sponsorship deals with CAE software vendors. Ken Warby follows the tradition of the hobbyist/inventor who has neither the time nor the resources to use current CAE tools. What if CAE tools were both affordable and easier to use for concept design analysis? I'm sure Ken and his fellow hobbyists would be willing to join the CAE party – having finally been invited!


water speed assaults

Canada's in the same race. A women pilot will b @ the control. jst 2 let u no. keep ur eyes open.

Demise of the Quicksilver Attempt

Has anyone spotted the London Gazette notices:

1 - Nigel Macknight (company MD and boat driver) has been declared bankrupt,

2 - The Quicksilver company itself is being struck off the British Companies House register and will soon no longer exist?


I have a hull that can be on the water in a few months. We have a proven outrigger design with current ihba and sdba et records as well as the fastest propeller driven pass @ 270.2mph. Set up with a gas turbine and twin prop gearbox this hull will run for both records,(propeller and outright). Currently seaking sponsor $. we do not need to design engineer and test as we have a proven safety record with 4+ years on the track passes @ 250+mph. I have current sponsors for most components but need funding for the record. I am a 1 man garage operation that has an actual hull that can be seen at Thanks, Dan

Quicksilver WSR Ltd was

Quicksilver WSR Ltd was struck off as a company on 1st September 2009. A new company now appears to be in charge QWSR Ltd. Companies house return shows a two director limited funded company.

Is this project going to survive

Ken Warby, still the king on

Ken Warby, still the king on water, Ozzie Ozzie Ozze!


Ozzie Osborn is a burnout, so is Ken
Warby. After doing a little journalistic research, it is easy enough for anybody to prove that his
statement "I designed and built her
myself" was not true. 7 known hydroplane designers had collaborated the Spirit design that was built. Warby had given no input to that part of his claim.
During the build, there was always a design engineer present and
actually doing the internal structure
fabricating and construction. He did
not 'build it himself'.
Also he did not give $67.00 for the
engine as promoted, but rather $1,067.00.
Truth is, he has lost his nerve to
rechallenge and like Osborn lives in
the shadow of a past event that
was surrounded by non-truths, and chooses to stay stuck there in an environment of lies. How can a perpetual liar be held up as a hero?
Only by those not willing to do their own homework and dig out the truth.

test of time

[...] goodnuff what waterspeed record did you set didnt see you going over 300mph on the water and set a record which has stood the test of time i dont [care ...] if nasa built the boat and he piad 10 cents for the engine who cares all that matters is ken warby holds the fastest man on water title [...] talking about nerve try [...] strapping yourself into a 300 mph missile and then we will who has nerve [...]

[Edited for profanity]

Were are all these so called

Were are all these so called boats? I can have mine on the water within months with minor sponsorship. @ boats ready to go, 210 mph outboard outrigger and a 25' version for outright record.

RE: 'were are all...'

1st of all, learn to spell!

These "so-called 'boats'", as you will, are not your property. Why would you assume they would be left at your discretion?

If you feel this endeavor is that easy, put your money where your mouth is and get your "boat" out there and break that record!

JUST DO IT! Boats ready to go?!

So I mispelled a word ! Just

So I mispelled a word ! Just asking a question since it's been 10yrs of announcements.

Water speed record

Will there be any american boat to challenge the record ?????

American contender for world water speed record

YES IT WILL,....WE ARE WORKING ON IT....quietly......, it is a bit more engineering involved than you may think, ....just to strap a jet or rocket engine on a boat, it will get you killed like many others that tried already. One has to understand the physics involved and work with them not against them ....if you want to be successful and survive you have to think outside the box,......way outside! We will make a public anouncement after all the engineering is finished and the construction is in progress.
No we are not a "consortium of businessmen and engineers" like,... now defunct American Challenge,
we are just some normal people with a little comon sense,......and little help from the brightest aeronautical engineers in the country. No, you don't need a million dollars to make it happen.
Andy Munteanu,

World Water Speed Record

317.6 mph - Mr. Warby always insists on the .6 ;)

do you know or who has the

do you know or who has the list of current people trying to go for warbys record

New Zealand has a challenger

New Zealand has a challenger that is 8 months into it's build and looks like a very clever design, facebook Black Bird Water Speed Record.

I have written a book - 'The

I have written a book - 'The Fast and the Forgotten' on the history of the World Water Speed Record. Out in September.

"Quicksilver" project still here!

I first viewed this web-page several years ago, and thought it's about time I made a comment or two on here.

The only thing I took exception to in the original wording that appears at the top of this page was words to the effect that "Quicksilver is a well-funded team". I wish we were! We've never been a well-off team, but because we have a nice website and a professional approach, some people assume we are loaded. Sorry, but that's not the case and never has been.

That wording has been changed anyway now - I'm not sure why, as I personally didn't make any effort to have it corrected, so it must have been the web-page hosts - so this is really an non-issue now, as far as this website is concerned ... or, at least, I hope it is.

Much as some folks would like to see us disappear, in order to prove them right because they have said time and again we won't stay the course, the fact is that a core group of us within the team have kept going, regardless of every setback. There are no certainties in this game, but one thing that's for sure is we will keep pressing on.

The Quicksilver craft is slowly but steadily taking shape. Don't bet on us quitting!

Best wishes to all the true WWSR enthusiasts out there! And nickers to the naysayers!

Nigel Macknight

Quicksilver update

Thanks for the update Nigel on your Quicksilver project. I wish you all the best in this difficult endeavor. Feel free to drop by anytime with updates.

speed on water

So where is it at now? Surely the thing to do is monitor the substrate you are skimming over (because that is what you are doing) and counteract the releatively low frequency variations by changes in aero surfaces using a variation of fly by wire, by which I mean FLY the thing. It even works with the prop- driven one (which is my fave). I've driven a boat with a surface prop literaly just touching the surface and beleave me it has more on common with flying.

Quicksilver status

We are continuing to move forward with the boat build, but are not envisaging having flying controls in the sense you imply to alter the craft's pitch angle in real-time. We want to keep faith with the record-breakers of yesteryear and do it on much the same terms as they did.

That said, I think the future of the World Water Speed Record will one day rest on a new generation of craft that have flying controls.


anything happening with this?

anything happening with this?

surface props et al

I too have driven a surface prop powered craft, though at nothing like the speeds you folk are talking of (18 foot Tremlet mono hull, 75 mph water speed under Richmond bridge on the Thames - faster in real terms coz on outgoing tide - and yes I do know it's an 8 knot limit, got nicked for it) and yes it is very much about flying and balancing, even at that speed on a river (we once ran into a gentle swell at sea at a smidge over 85 mph having gone around a mill pond-like Torbay out of Brixham building up speed and spent a LONG time in the air!) Anyway, the idea of 'adaptive aerosurfaces' and continuingly monotoring the substrate (ie the water) has been in my head since that time (late 1970s - we used a home-brew doppler shift ultrasound setup to measure water speed)

Spirit of Australia 2 tested

Spirit of Australia 2 tested in Taree Australia for the first time july 15-16 2017 with Ken Warbys son David driving.
the boat performed perfectly and will make an attempt at the world water speed record in 2018