Glynn Cunliffe gives us the low down on all the action from the 44th annual Records Week at Coniston Water; the spiritual home of world water speed record breaking.
It wasn�t by chance that Donald Campbell chose Coniston Water in the English Lake District for his World Water Speed Record attempts. With its own micro climate, somewhat sheltered from the Atlantic weather systems that sweep across the Lake District, Coniston makes the perfect setting for the end of the Powerboat Racing season each November.
In 2005 the annual Powerboat Records Week relocated from Windermere to Coniston following the introduction of the 10mph speed limit on Windermere for all powered craft. For 51 weeks a year Coniston has its own 10mph speed limit but under a very specific Byelaw, UIM and RYA recognised World and National Speed Record attempts are permitted.
In its 44th year, this year Records Week got off to a slow start with the highly accurate timing equipment succumbing to gremlins on the Monday following successful testing the day before, but, Chief Timekeeper and Chairman of the K7 Club, Mike Twigg was on the case.
Mike, who was at the inaugural Records Week in 1970 on Windermere and who has been watching the clocks at Records Week since 1971 led the mission to Preston to get the equipment repaired. Unfortunately the wind had turned Southerly on Monday Afternoon and conditions meant that the best place to be was in the Sun Inn.
With a new timing circuit and transistor in place and commissioned, Tuesday morning saw ideal conditions for World Record Breaking on water and first off the jetty to the Marshal boat was 22 year old Sam Whittle.
Sam in his Molgaard Catamaran hull prepared by Powertec Marine was attempting a World and National Record in the S1000 Class powered by a single 60hp Mercury engine. With flat calm water Sam made his attempt, his Powertec Marine team were delighted when the result came over the radio from timing control that he had established a new record of 61.69mph. During the week Sam made several more attempts to finally set a new World and National Water Speed Record of 70.45mph in the S1000 Class.
Breaking water speed records is addictive and trying to break that next barrier in both class and drivers� personal bests sees competitors returning year after year.
2014�s Powerboat GP�s F4s National Champion Ben Morse, 20 from the Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club is one of those competitors. Currently holder of three National Water Speed Records and the F4s Class World and National Record holder, Ben�s goal for 2014 was to set a Speed Record of over 100mph and increase his National O.850 Class record.
The rules of Water Speed Records are that the speed of the craft is the average speed measured over 1km on two consecutive runs (one in each direction) within 20 minutes of each other. Ben�s first pair of runs gave him an average of 99.49mph. With a return run speed of 101.63mph the clock was ticking to get his boat out of the water, refuelled and back on the course within the 20 minute deadline to give him a chance of achieving his goal and a record.
Like a scene from the pits at Siverstone his team led by Dad Adrian were on it. Ben didn�t disappoint. With a third run taking the middle pair�s average speed to 100.05mph, he set a new National O.850 Record, obtained a Gold K7 Star and became the youngest member ever to be admitted into the K7 Club. Not bad for a morning�s work!
Coniston Powerboat Records Week is one of the only places in the UK where spectators can see all disciplines of powerboat competing in one place and 2014 delivered a full house of disciplines.
Offshore racers were out in force with Bob McCarthy starting off the bidding for the Offshore section. Unfortunately Bob didn�t manage to set any records this year but both Paul Etasse and John Guille from the Channel Islands were on top form.
Paul Etasse and John Guille
Postman Paul, 32 from Guernsey had been steadily increasing his speeds during his attempts on Tuesday when on the 74th run of the week he achieved a new National Record of 64.19mph for the Offshore III B EPA Class in his Bernico hull named �Slayer�.
John Guille and Team T�tue had travelled the furthest to be at Records Week 2014 and they were obviously determined to achieve a Record as they notched up 19 attempts on the course during the week, the most of any competitor.
Their efforts didn�t go unrewarded either as John set a national record of 70.95mph in the Offshore III A Class in the Phantom hull �T�tue� and Envinrude 115HO setup.
Zapcat racers David Finlayson and Simon Mathewson from the �Haggis Hunters� team were pumped up and ready to go with David setting a new National Record in the Zapcat ZCR50X Class at 44.13mph closely followed by Simon in the Zapcat ZCR50 Class establishing a British National Water Speed Record at 43.53mph.
David Finlayson and Simon Matthews
At Records Week in 2012 one memorable sight was that of Graham Leech attempting a record on Coniston in a 30mph wind. This year the conditions were much more favourable for Graham and his fellow competitors in the Jetsport classes.
Alan Pickard was the first personal water craft (PWC) of the week to make an attempt and set a new World and National Record in the Runabout GP Class and with further runs he eventually settled for 83.75mph as the new World and National Record.
Alan�s fastest run of the week was in another class of PWC the Runabout Superstock 1200 at 84.02mph which saw him secure his second World and National Record.
In bracing conditions Graham Leech donned on the wetsuit and on his fourth attempt averaged 68.08mph on his Ski Division F1 Class craft earning him a World and National Water Speed Record.
Stuart Bird from the West Midlands was overjoyed to receive a silver star for establishing a National Record in his Burgess/Hall hull in the Clubman 1000 Catamaran class at 65.76mph but the seven attempts took its toll on the hull and Stuart was forced to retire to the pits.
Alan Power from Malahide set a new National Record in the VP2.75 Class at 92.86mph and Helen Loney who is currently the holder of the British Fastest Lady Record set a new National BCC Class 1 Record at 79.07mph. Helen�s record didn�t stand for long though as Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club�s Commodore Peter Hart raised the bar in the BCC Class 1 to 92.15mph.
Peter was the most successful competitor of Coniston Powerboat Records Week 2014, with another National record in the Clubman Unlimited Class at 91.00mph and increasing the World and National record in the Pro Rib Sport Class to 74.69mph took his total record tally for the week to three.
Records Week is run entirely by over 60 volunteers who enable this great British tradition to take place and the records to be broken. The organising committee are also grateful to the Lake District National Park and the residents of Coniston who each year welcome the Powerboat Racing family. Next year will be the 45th Annual Powerboat Records Week and the dates have been confirmed as 02-06 November 2015.
Find out more about Coniston Powerboats Records Week
Images courtesy of Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club