By Rod Ward
In this book we tell the large story in a small space of the development of ‘Fast Boats’.
As with other forms of technical evolution, such as cars, aircraft and trains, there was always a group of enthusiasts who wanted to see who could go fastest, in this case over water. This was an activity for wealthy sportsmen, who required proof of mastery in their chosen sport. Trophies and challenges were offered for races between power boats. Most of the story relates to the competitive urge to win the various trophies on offer, especially the American Gold Cup and the British Harmsworth Trophy, as well as on various independent attempts to win the water speed record. There are many other classes of record other than the absolute speed record, such as for single-engined craft (as opposed to multi-engined), or for engines of smaller capacity than the unlimited behemoths, which include the jet and rocket engines of later years. Only in 1928 were standards set for the World Water Speed Record, still overseen by the UIM. Many attempts have been made, but the record has only been broken on relatively few occasions, and half of the drivers attempting to break the record have died in the process. Lessons learned from the quest for speed led to developments of fast surface craft for naval and life-saving purposes. Many of the resulting fast patrol boats and Air Sea Rescue craft are also described in this book. Colour illustrations of many boats are hard (or impossible) to find, so we have taken the opportunity to picture many fast boats in this book using some of the excellent scale models produced by specialist manufacturers.