Like father like son, the Warbys return

ken on boat

THE boat that Ken Warby and his son Dave hope will break a 36-year-old water speed record on Blowering Dam is steadily taking shape, with hopes that the craft will be ready to test in June or July of next year.

The hull is finished, the engine is in and the intake systems have been completed and while there is still plenty of work to do, the Warbys are making steady progress towards their goal of building the fastest boat in history.

The Warby Motorsport team is hoping to carry out testing at Blowering next year, prior to Dave taking a shot at the record some time in 2016.

Ken was recently in Newcastle overseeing the build with his son and in tow were a camera crew from the Discovery Channel’s Megaspeed, which is tracking progress of the record tilt.

The design of the boat, titled Spirit of Australia II, will not be too much different from the missile that clocked 317.6 miles per hour (just over 511km/h) on October 8, 1978.

The engine is larger but lighter than the original, and also 50 per cent more powerful.

It’s a Rolls Roys Orpheus, sourced from a Fiat G91 Italian jet fighter.

Warby explained that the boat will be bigger in height to accommodate the engine, but otherwise is “basically the same” as the Spirit of Australia from 36 years ago.

“It’s a bit heavier, and far more sophisticated, but it’s really the same old plan,” Warby said.

“Perhaps the major difference is the reinforced cockpit, for safety reasons. I certainly didn’t have that, just a quarter-inch thick piece of plexi glass.”

Warby said he and his son would not rush the process, confident in the knowledge “no one else would be knocking off” the record.

“We’ll get the boat built, carry out testing for the rest of 2015 and hopefully be ready to go come 2016,” he said.

“I want to get the boy (Dave) plenty of seat time.”

With the prospect of the fastest man on water arriving back on the shores of Blowering Dam becoming more imminent, president of Tumut Rotary, Rowan Bieske, said plans to acknowledge the world record have also been given the green light.

“Rotary has received permission from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to erect signage that celebrate Ken Warby’s achievement,” Mr Bieske said.

“The signs will go up at the The Pines, as that is where Ken took off for the record and where I imagine his son will start from when he attempts the record.”

The signs have been in the pipeline for some time and will complement a sign that was erected on the top of the dam wall by Rotary in 2012 and will include information regarding the yet to be beaten record, the Spirit of Australia boat and will also embrace smartphone technology with a series of QR codes that will link tourists to Ken Warby’s website along with other useful information sites.

“We want to take people on an information trip so they can see the full story,” Mr Bieske said.

“Initially it will be fairly static but we hope to in time connect people to Tumut tourism websites and other tourists websites from the sign.

“When the Warbys return for a new shot at the world record, it has the potential to put Tumut on the international map, Rotary are excited about this.”

In the longer term Rotary, alongside the Tumut Shire Council, hope to engage with the broader community to create a more substantial record of Ken’s Warby’s achievement.

Until future plans are unveiled, Mr Bieske said they will continue to support the new bid and while the arrival of Spirit of Australia II to the foreshores of Blowering Dam may still be some time away, he is confident regardless of where the new boat is tested, it will be Tumut’s dam that will host the record breaking attempt.

“Ken is adamant the record attempt will occur on Blowering, he refers to the dam as holy water,” Mr Bieske said.

“I think similar to last time, the Warbys will take the boat around the state beforehand to gather support.

The spinoff for the Tumut Shire in bringing the Warbys back to town is enormous with the planning cogs already turning as to how to best maximise exposure and possibly provide the shire with the tourist attraction that has long been sought after.

“The potential for the shire is huge, we need to harness that potential as a community,” Mr Bieske said.

“There are more than enough ideas and community groups who are keen to make this happen.

“We need to get together and work on making this event one that will help to shape the shire as an Australian and international tourist destination, the interest in the record is definitely there.”