Five of the fastest boats of all time

It is not easy to find the world’s fastest boats, since each category –racing, sailboats, remote control boats, flatboats, vee boats, yatchs, others—have their own fastest. So to narrow the avenue of discussion, this article is confined to probably the most popular kind of boats – motor boats.

Spirit of Australia. This hydroplane boat set the world record on October 8, 1978 on Tumut River, Australia, at 317.6 mph. The boat was made of balsa and fiberglass, and powered by a Westinghouse j34 jet engine. It was piloted by Ken Warby.

Today he is building a new boat, Aussie Spirit, with the hope of breaking his own record.

Earthrace. A trimaran of modernistic wavepiercing –it cuts waves instead of riding them– design and carbon composite material, Earthrace is run by two 540-horse Cummins engines that operate on biofuel.  It cost $1.25 million to build, and was plagued by substantial mechanical problems on its first voyages. It is billed as the fastest eco-boat and the only powered boat to circumnavigate the world.

After 2008 Earthrace was renamed Ady Gil, and leased by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an environmental group. The boat went south to observe Japanese whaling, was rammed by the whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2 and sank in January 6, 2010.

Bluebird K7. Donald Campbell has set several world speed records, the best of them 276.33 mph in 1964. In 1966 wanted to exceed the 300mph barrier and built Bluebird K7, a three-point metal hydroplane powered by a Metropolitan-Vickers jet engine capable of producing 3,500 foot-pounds of thrust. He ran the boat in January 4, 1967 on Consiton Water, Lancashire, England, clocked 315 mph on his initial run, and passed 320 mph on the second. Sadly, he crashed afterwards and was killed, nullifying all efforts of exceeding Warby’s record.

Rain-X Record Challenger. Like the Spirit, this was a planing hull of composite material and powered by a jet engine (GE/Westinghouse J85/CJ610) packing 5,500 horsepower. It attempted to beat Warby’s record in July 1989 on Jackson Lake, Florida.  Piloted by Jon Craig Arfons, a former champion in auto drag racing, the boat reached  the speed of 420 miles per hour (although opinions vary, some saying 370 average) became airborne, then porpoised, cartwheeled and disintegrated. The record was therefore unofficial. Arfons was killed in the attempt.

However, some information indicate the American Powerboat Association officially accepted the 375 mph as attained speed.

K-222. This is a Russian nuclear submarine, sole ship in its particular class, the Papa. It was capable of going 82 kilometers an hour but so noisy it was uncomfortable for its crewmembers. It served starting in 1970, and carried 10 anti-ship missiles, but its noisy signature nullified its role as attack submarine, a ‘carrier killer’. Because it was too costly to operate and its intended service was unachievable, the sub was designated ready for decommisioning and scrapping in 2008.

The ‘need for speed’ is perhaps an innate compulsion in many people. They simply must go faster than anyone else, and will do so with any transportation method they use: cars, airplanes, horses, and boats. That is the reason speed limits are imposed in highways and autobahns, although speed limits in boats are not yet widely used except in crowded ports and waterways.

Yet the thrill of speed will always remain, no matter what limitations are imposed.


This is a guest post by Sam from Fozmula, a manufacturer and supplier of level sensors and pressure sensors.


Filed Under: Blog, Boats

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