Nothing beats Aussie ingenuity in the race for speed

Maritimo - 2012 Super Boat Key West World Championship
Some 34 years after the iconic, laconic Ken Warby set a world water speed record of 317.60 miles per hour (511.13 kmh) aboard his jet-powered Spirit of Australia – a record that still stands – England-based Aussie Paul Larsen has just reeled off a 59.23-knot blast in machine called the Vestas Sailrocket.

It means Australia now holds both the world sailing and powerboat speed records.

Sailing over a 500-metre course off the coast of Namibia, the one-man vessel smashed the existing world record by more than three knots. Top speed during the timed run was 62.53 knots – the fastest anyone has ever been under sail, if you don’t count that guy on top of the bus in Priscilla Queen of the Dessert.

Despite being on the edge of control, Larsen reckons he still had time to look around and enjoy the sensation that this awesome vessel delivers. Just a shame he didn’t trail some lures at the same time …

Meanwhile, my spies tell me that Warby’s son is lining up for a crack at the record in a new boat, with the midnight oil being burned in a certain garage in Newcastle.

Many have tried, and some have died, in the attempt to better Ken Warby’s record. When you think of sailing advances since the 1970s – a ferro-cement yacht won the Hobart race that decade – then the sky is the limit for the power record.

In other great news, just shy of three decades after Australia II’s victory, Australia’s Maritimo Offshore Racing team has just taken out a World title in the US on the proverbial smell of an oily rag.

After more than 20 years of competition at international level, and numerous podium placings, the team won the Superboat category in the World Offshore Power Boat Championships in Key West.

The crew included Ross Willaton and Pete McGrath, with fellow Gold Coast crew members Garry Smith, Mark Tolcher and Kurt Davies.

‘We came second last year in the 'unlimited' class, despite having the smallest engines of all boats competing. We certainly raised a few eyebrows last year, and this year’s win is a culmination of two years’ work,’ Willaton said.

‘We teamed up with Miss Geico Racing this year and they allowed us the use of their factory and trucks for transportation at Key West, which was a big help. After the first race there were some issues with the boat’s turning performance so we were able to replace the rudder with the one from the old boat using their facilities.’