View Poll Results: Will Ken Warby's water-speed record of 317 mph ever be broken?
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Will Anyone Ever Break Warby's Record?

Old 07-08-2010, 10:06 PM
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I also believe that one day this record will be broken but not in the near future. Ken Warby is definitely a living Legend and has nothing to prove to anyone, he has proven it already and his record has stood for 32 years so far. Ken Warby is the "KING OF SPEED" on the water and will remain so for at least another 18 years. One of my Hero's.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:17 PM
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An interview I did with Ken Warby a few year ago. Enjoy.

When I arrived Wednesday afternoon, everyone was sitting around and swapping racing stories over a beer. The guy next to me had a heavy Australian accent that sounded somewhat familiar. Under the dark glasses and black hat was none other than the most Extreme Boater of all time, Ken Warby the Water Speed Record Holder. God I love having a tape recorder on me when I need it.

Setting the World Water Speed Record has been Ken’s life passion. His mind was made up from the time he was eight years old and glued a CO2 cartridge to a model boat and blew it across a neighbor’s pool. Thirty years later he claimed ownership of the record and lived to tell the story.

EBM – Ken, I guess I should introduce you as the most extreme boater of all time. What is your record, 317?
KW – 317.6 to be exact. And we set that record 27 years ago.
EBM – I’m sure that type of effort cost a small fortune. Where were you living and what were you doing to make money back then?
KW - I was living in Australia and doing oil paintings in shopping centers.
EBM – You made enough money painting murals to take on a World Speed Record project?
KW – How much do you think the first boat cost to build and run?
EBM – I can only guess, three or four hundred thousand dollars?
KW – Not even close.
EBM – More than that?
KW – Far less, we built that boat under a tree in the backyard of a rented house. We had a tarp to throw over it at night, that was about it. It was made of plywood and then wrapped in fiberglass. We bought three jet engines at a government auction. I got two J34 engines for $200 and a third for $65. We put together the entire boat for less than $10,000.
EBM – So you set the record of 317.6 using a $100 jet engine?
KW – Not exactly. We set the Australian Speed Record of 288 using one of those engines but it was flat out. A year later, after the Air Force mechanic’s academy rebuilt the $65 engine for me, we set the World Record at 317.6 and she had more to go.
EBM – I understand you have a new boat built and your looking to better your existing record.
KW – Yes it’s over in Australia, the problem is the water level is too low at the dam that we use for the record attempts and there’s just no room to run.
EBM – I bet the new boat cost more than $10,000 to build.
KW – Hell, I paid that much for the rudder on the new boat.
EBM – Have you tested the new boat?
KW – Yes we have a river that we run on but speeds are held to around 200mph because it’s a narrow river and there’s no room for error.
EBM – Are you ready to go faster?
KW – Yes we just made some changes to the shape of the sponsons and we are ready to go faster.
EBM – What are you using for power this time.
KW – Same motor as last time, a Westinghouse J34 that makes about 3500lbs of thrust.
EBM – Any safety equipment this time?
KW – Last time I didn’t even have a seat belt. The new boat has a F16 canopy, safety cell, 5-point harness, onboard air, fire extinguishers, and a radio so I can talk to my team, we really went all out on the new boat.
EBM – Now for the $64,000 question: You’ve held the record for 27 years, two guys have died trying to better your speed, there’s some talk of a challenger but no boat has been built as of yet. So why would you risk your life again to better your own record?
KW – I get a real kick out of the designing and building of the craft, you could put a trained monkey in to drive it. We have until October of this year to set the record or we have to get the boat out of Australia. If we don’t have time I’ll bring it back to my home in Cincinnati. Maybe I’ll put it on a pole in front of my house as a monument to stupidity. I’m going to be 66 years old next month and I have a deal worked out with Howard Arneson, I’m not going to retire until he does, and he’s in his mid 80s. In fact he and I have spent a lot of time talking about building a boat using his surface drive to set the propeller driven speed record.

Since the time Ken set the record back in October of 1978 two other challengers have tried to better his mark, both ending in tragic failure.

In 1980, the previous water speed record holder, Lee Taylor, tried to reclaim his title in a 2.5 million dollar boat called "Discovery II." The missile-shaped craft was constructed of aluminum, titanium and stainless steel and was powered by a rocket engine that burned hydrogen peroxide fuel. The power plant was said to generate 8,000 pounds of thrust.

The trial took place November 13, 1980 on Nevada's Lake Tahoe. Discovery II roared through its first pass at 269.85 mph and was decelerating when it appeared to hit a swell. Witnesses reported that the boat veered to the left and suddenly disintegrated, vanishing under the surface of the lake in a matter of a few seconds. Taylor’s body was found a day later still strapped into the cockpit.

Craig Arfons, a former automotive drag racing champion and a close friend of Ken Warby was the next to take up the challenge. In July 9, 1989, he put the finishing touches on a jet hydroplane called "Rain-X Record Challenger," which boasted a lightweight composite hull and a jet engine that could deliver 5,500 pounds of thrust with the afterburner lit. Arfons calculated that the boat's favorable thrust-to-weight ratio would give it a 200 percent power advantage over Warby's record-setting boat.

The record attempt took place on Jackson Lake near Sebring, Florida. Members of Arfons' crew say his boat reached a speed of 263 mph before it became airborne and began to cartwheel across the mirror-smooth lake. Arfons tried to deploy a safety parachute, but the angle at which his boat was traveling prevented the parachute from opening. Arfons was killed as his boat shattered around him. He was 39.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:19 PM
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They say records are made to be broken but when it comes to breaking the water speed record, the question about one's sanity must be addressed. The record stands at 317mph and there's a good reason why no one has broken this record since 1978 when Ken Warby did the impossible and lived to see another day. Almost thirty years later, a new set of speed freaks are preparing to remove Ken's name from the record books by running 400mph and replace it with the name of Russ Wicks. Even though the boat won't make the run for another year, Extreme Boats Magazine will begin covering the construction process now so when this boat his the water, you'll be intimately knowledgeable about the most extreme boat ever built.

The Speed Freaks have agreed to hold an ongoing email interview with EBM so that we can keep you informed as their project progresses from dream to reality. Here’s our first installment of Speedfreak – behind the scenes.

EMB - Please name the main members of the team.
SF - Dr. Roger Gallington is one of our aerodynamic and hydrodynamic design engineers. Bill Harmon is a mechanical design engineer. Dave Knowlen is Director, Business Affaires, Boeing Commercial Airlines and one of our design engineers. Dixon Smith is the Chief Engineer, for the Miss Budweiser unlimited hydroplane team, and one of our design engineers. Ron Argust is an aerospace engineer that is performing structural analyses of our craft using state-of-the-art (CAD/CAE/CAM) tools. Dale Van Wieringen is a composite specialist and built the current Miss Budweiser, the Elam, and the Cooper’s Express unlimited hydroplanes. Joe Kranak is Chief Engineer, 777 Airplane Validation & Testing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Bob Wartinger is Director, Advanced Information Systems, "The Phantom Works", The Boeing Company. Wartinger is Chairman of the American Power Boat Association (APBA) Safety Committee and President of the Safety Medical Commission of the Union International Motonautique (UIM). As a driver, Wartinger holds 105 Water Speed Records including the mile straightaway outboard record.

EBM - Who had the idea to go after the record?
SF – It was Brian Towey that was instrumental in the success of Russ Wicks' previous World Speed Record and is committed to ACI's effort to break the World Water Speed Record. He has managed ACI's communications since the inception, and continues to provide support.

EBM - Why go after the record?
SF - Because I’ve always enjoyed pushing the limits of speed, and want to be the fastest in a variety of vehicles. It’s also the next logical step in my motorsports career.

EBM - How is the team funded?
SF - A combination of private funding, corporate sponsorship, and in-kind support.

EBM - Does anyone work on this full time?
SF - Russ Wicks and Stephan Schier (business development) are full time. Several others dedicate a great deal of time on ACI, although they also have other projects.

EBM - Do you have the funding needed to go all the way or is more needed?
SF - As a business enterprise, ACI has a number of goals and objectives that require funding at different times. We will be securing additional revenue from sponsorships prior to a record attempt.

EBM - What will be the total amount spent by the time you make the run?
SF - Some of the in-kind support we are receiving is priceless, so it’s difficult to place an amount on the actual dollars that will be spent. A ballpark estimate is somewhere between $2 – 5 million.

EBM - Who's the main sponsor?
SF - We haven’t announced a primary marketing partner, although UGS PLM Solutions is currently our leading technology partner.

EBM - What stage is the hull in at this time?
SF - At the moment it’s an interactive 3D virtual model in a CAD-neutral collaborative environment, which is being validated through computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation and structural analysis.

EBM - Where will the hull be tested in a tank?
SF - We are doing tow tests with a 1/9th scale model, and are planning on utilizing the tank testing facility at the Naval Surface Weapons Center in West Bethesda, MA. We are also planning to run a scale model in a wind tunnel at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems in Marietta, GA.

EBM - When do you think you will attempt the run?
SF - The best answer is when we are ready. We are hopeful of completing construction of the craft and making some high-speed runs before the end of 2005.

EBM - Explain the TV show angle, when will it air?
SF - American Speedfreak will follow the trials and tribulations as we prepare for the most dangerous speed records known to mankind while providing a behind-the-scenes look into the latest technology. The producers are planning to debut Season 1 during the Fall of 2004.

EBM - How many weeks will it run?
SF - Season 1 should have six hour-long episodes.

EBM - Other than raising money, what's been the biggest challenge so far?
SF - Because we have so many different elements to this project, it’s been challenging to manage all of our time, energy, and money most efficiently.

EBM - Explain the propulsion system?
SF - Pure thrust from a military fighter jet engine. No Propellers, they would only cause more drag.

EBM - How much power will it take to break the record?
SF – we believe 10,000 pounds of thrust should get us over 400 mph.

EBM - What chance do you give the team for beating the record and coming home in one piece?
SF - Everything has risks and unknowns, although we all are very confident in our ability to utilize modern technology to safely break the record.

EBM - Have you picked a location for the record run?
SF - We have several locations as candidates on the west coast of the United States.

EBM - Who will sanction the run?
SF - The American Power Boat Association (APBA) will sanction the run and the Union International Motonautique (UIM) will certify it’s an official world record.

EBM - Explain any special safety equipment that is unique to this boat.
SF - We feel our most effective safety equipment is the way the craft is being designed and validated. It will then be built much like a current military fighter jet using the latest composite materials and manufacture ring processes. There will be a survival cell or capsule that could break away if a certain type of impact were to occur, and we are also looking to incorporate a computer-controlled ejection seat.

EBM - What is the craft's theoretical top speed?
SF - The design spec of the craft is 500 mph. This means it’s being designed to achieve a 500 mph top speed related to our power, weight, drag, stability, and structural estimates.

EBM - What speed will you try to reach?
SF - Initially, we need to break the current record of 317 mph. For an official record it needs to be at least one percent faster. In doing this we would accelerate gradually through the measured mile, which means we may enter the trap at 290 mph and leave the mile at 350 mph. Depending on what other challengers do (if anything), we may go back and bump the record up to a 400 mph average.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:21 PM
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In our continuing coverage for the quest to break the water speed record, here’s some more info from the American Challenger. First they want us to know that the show has changed from SpeedFreak to SpeedKing. Personally I liked SpeedFreak. They also had a few comments about our last interview which you might enjoy reading at.

EBM – Tell us about some of the specific safety designs for your craft.

SK - Regarding the safety concerns and solutions of designing, building and deploying a 400 MPH speedboat. I’m the team bartender, but I’m going to give a layman’s shot, anyway. Can I make you a drink, first?

History shows that eighty percent of all recent challengers to this speed record have died. Most of the tragedies, we believe, resulted from lack of a proper risk management program, and none had the technical resources that are available today. We’ve got a bunch of really smart guys working on this (some were named in the first interview). Through collaboration our team is blending varied and vast experience in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics to safely reach these unprecedented speeds.

To start with, as a design requirement, we have specified that the aero-hydrodynamic shape of the craft be stable from rest to well past record speeds. Very early on, we created a specification document with a list of requirements and safety being the primary focus. This specification importantly allows for a system with the purpose of improving the natural dynamic behavior of the craft.

What this means is that the craft (and as far as I know this is unlike the others) shall have movable aero control surfaces to permit the application of this stability augmentation system. This system shall prevent the craft from entering a situation where natural stability is lost. This concept focuses on damping pitch, roll, and yaw – just like any modern aircraft. Pretty simple, but we think it would be very difficult, even dangerous, without the use of modern technology.

I should also briefly discuss the tub, or driver’s environment. We started here, which is an important difference between our craft and that of Warby, for example. We believe that Warby’s lack of a safety cell in the original design is going to cause him great grief as testing progresses.
Before any other part of the American Challenge craft was designed, we made sure that Russ would be comfortable while doing his job, have an “at speed” egress option, and be able to survive within the craft, if necessary. The first option is to get him out.

To be honest, I’m not well versed in the operation of ejection seats. The short version is that it’s a lounger with a rocket motor, and the plan calls for a computer to “make the call”. We will be using what’s called a zero-altitude driver ejection system, which is capable of removing the driver safely, in this application, at speeds up to 500 MPH.
If that is not the right option, the tub is a self-contained unit, like a modern Formula One car. The construction is very similar, and if you’ve watched those things crash recently you understand how we are optimistic of survivability. We want him out if possible, but a controlled deceleration is also a reasonable option.

Finally, to prevent such an occurrence in the first place, we will strictly adhere to an Operational Risk Management Plan. Any student of the history of the Water Speed Record can see the pattern of “one more try”, or of ignoring a known anomaly in the crafts performance resulting in disaster.

This is still very dangerous, but that’s where we’re coming from.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:23 PM
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And as Ken says - "Been there, done that. These other kids are still playing with computer generated models while I've got a new boat ready to defend my record."

My answer is NO, this record will live forever.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:27 PM
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Good Luck!
I saw the special on was more of a miracle than anything else.
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:58 AM
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I thnk it will happen some day, but I doubt it will be anytime soon.

Here is pic of Ken Warby's record holding boat on display at the LOTO Shootout in 2006.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Griff View Post
I thnk it will happen some day, but I doubt it will be anytime soon.

Here is pic of Ken Warby's record holding boat on display at the LOTO Shootout in 2006.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Griff View Post
I thnk it will happen some day, but I doubt it will be anytime soon.

Here is pic of Ken Warby's record holding boat on display at the LOTO Shootout in 2006.

I don't think that's the record holding boat...that's his new one I believe.

To the question at hand....... random thoughts.......

Speed and size are very relevant in this discussion... The bigger the craft the lower the scale speed, so simply doubling the size of Warby's boat (two engines @ 44 feet)would reduce the risks considerably........

I thought the whole purpose of building the huge Phenomenon was to exceed 300 mph originally....... For that boat to simply break the world propeller driven record currently held by a much smaller, single engine unlimited hydro would appear to be major overkill, but it serves to prove the point. My guess is the Phenomenon (once they get their act together and without some major engineering or judgement mishap) will settle in comfortably at about 250-275 paving the way for the next guy ( read fat checkbook)to build a 75 foot version and begin to approach Warby's speed.

The funny thing is that historically the WWSR was the strict province of rugged and determined individuals who devoted their lives (literally), abandoned normality, stretched their budgets to the breaking point, and pitted themselves and their machines against the often fatal unknown. At the same time Offshore racing was the domain of hard partying, semi serious weekend warriors who spent vast sums of disposable income (some from shady sources) in an attempt to brashly compete with others of similar means. It looks like the convergence of Offshore's budgets and the desire to do something of global significance will eventually be the key to breaking the record........

One final thought....The "wild card"......I would not be surprised if a modern twin prop drag boat on Nitro doesn't jump over 300 in the next 5 years or so.........................

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Old 07-09-2010, 10:21 AM
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