More British Speed Tales

My fellow nutty historian from Great Britain, Charles Lawrence, has published British Offshore Powerboat Marathons, yet another compilation of powerboat races, beginning with the 1969 Round Britain and ending with the same event in 2008. Technology, or kinder weather, seems to have slowed the war of attrition. Where the original event garnered 41 entrants with just 24 finishing, 47 started the 2008 repeat and 40 finished. The winner was Blue FPT, designed by Fabio Buzzi, built by his FB Design in Italy, skippered by Vassilis Pateras, and featured 75-year-old British scribe Dag Pike among the four-man crew. They covered the 1,328-mile course (one leg was abandoned due to bad weather) in 20 hours 36 minutes, averaging 64.94 mph.

Playing the Long Game

Lawrence says the longest powerboat race in history was the 2,540-nm race from Port Richborough, London, to Monte Carlo in 1972, sponsored by The Offshore Powerboat Club of Great Britain. The 14 stops included Brest and La Rochelle, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Alicante and Barcelona, Spain. Twenty-one boats started; just six finished. It was won by a boat named HTS that averaged 35.76 mph; winning only three legs HTS proved that in long-distance races sometimes endurance is more important than top speed. A busted boat wins nothing.

Color photographs, maps of courses, beautiful renderings, and just enough information about boats, crew, and conditions make British Offshore Powerboat Marathons a nice complement to other Lawrence books featured in this column. View them all on the website.

Price is £20 plus £3.50 shipping. He says it’s best, especially for international orders, to e-mail him first at  or write him at 11 Bishops Close, Chiswick, London W4 4JA. Checks, bank transfers, and Paypal accepted.