Things to be found on the internet


11 Jul 2008 14:00 BST Chichester,Goodwood
Sports, Competition and Collectors

1968 Telstar Racing Powerboat
Sold for £31,050 inc. premium
  • The 1968 Daily Express-sponsored Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race will always be remembered for the dramatic victory of the boat offered here – Tommy Sopwith’s Telstar , which is the powerboat racing equivalent of Jo Siffert’s Lotus 49 that won that year’s British Grand Prix. This famous and innovative design brought the former Jaguar racer and Equipe Endeavour founder Sopwith the greatest of his three wins in Britain’s premier offshore race. Its owner/driver’s famous tactical gamble of taking the longer inshore route around Lyme Bay while the rival Gardner Brothers Surfury pounded across the rougher water farther out saw the impudent Class 2 boat storm to the winner’s berth with 11 minutes in hand. Two weeks later Sopwith and Telstar won again at Torbay.
    Of 25ft length and 6ft 9ins beam, Telstar weighs 2.5 tons and is powered by a Chevrolet-based Daytona Scarab 482ci (7.9-litre) supercharged V8 delivering around 600bhp on petrol, an awesome power unit considered the king of powerboat racing engines. The craft was built for Sopwith by the respected Cowes-based firm of W A Souter & Sons out of cold-moulded plywood to a design by racer-turned-designer, Don Shead. In designing Telstar (and its sister-craft, Melodrama) Shead adopted the winning formula of a good power-to-weight ratio with stress on hull rigidity. Following racing car and aircraft design, its strength was derived largely from D-sections that ran the full length of the boat on either side – a first for powerboat design. Telstar was an innovative design in other ways, its driver and navigator standing in tandem in the unusually short and slim hull, while there was only one engine at a time when two were considered the norm. Designed by Maurice Hardy, the drive system was another untried innovation, placing the rudder and propeller well aft of the raked transom. Sopwith’s canny specification also included increased fuel capacity that enabled the team to run a longer route.
    Telstar was built as a result of the experience we had gained in Class III during the past seasons, and in an attempt to produce a fast exciting boat, still small enough to be towed to a number of events both in this country and abroad, Sopwith later recalled.
    After its famous victory, Telstar was run by various teams until present owner Colin Mollan acquired it as a restoration project with a view to competing. One of its last outings was the final London to Brighton Race, which it survived despite the treacherous conditions only to run out of fuel.
    Mr Mullan started Telstar’s restoration in 1998, returning this famous racing powerboat to its glorious 1968 Cowes-Torquay-Cowes no 400 livery. Last December at the Earls Court Boat Show, it was reunited with Sopwith and was the talk of the Historic Powerboat Village.
    Now in full working order, Telstar would be ideal for dramatic demonstrations, or the proud centrepiece of any collection. This historic craft comes complete with an Indespension custom built trailer; copies of Don Shead’s blueprints; video of the 1968 event with commentary by Raymond Baxter; and a small portfolio of information, photographs and articles.
    Although a spectacular design, Telstar is surprisingly practical and could be operated by a crew of one, but would be more fun astounding friends. Ideal for upstaging Rivas and Chris Crafts at historic speedboat meetings on the Italian Lakes.


A visitor to Poole this week was Jim Brooker who took time out to re aquaint himself with his old charge HTS and Nick Wilkinson who will be racing in the CTC Sunday…unfortunately Jim cannot make it to Cowes for the Trophy presentation to the team.

An Lilliq

I had a preview of Adrian Mott’s new toy at the weekend.

She is a Riva 2000, hull by Sonny Levi, built for a Sheikh in 1979, so naturally has triple 350hp Crusaders on surface drives with a modest turn of speed and a small but exquisite interior . . .

She is booked in for the Cowes Classic Powerboat Rally, so catch up with her in Cowes on Saturday 31st August.



The Surfury web site set up by Chris Grayer has vanished from the internet..This was the most complete and detailed documentation of the famous boat and its loss is very sad……plus we have had no contact with Chris since he was supposed to return from the USA. If anyone has any news please contact me.




Previous Winners the Sewell’s and Raceboat International

The “Sonny Levi Trophy” presentation to Nick Wilkinson and the “HTS” team will be in the….

Cowes Yacht Haven at 4pm on Saturday the 31st of August.

It is hoped that some of the HTS winning team from the London Monte Carlo race will be in attendance adding some nostalgia to the proceedings.

The Trophy will be presented by her previous owner David Hagan

Everyone is welcome to attend and HTS will be on hand for photo calls.

Adapt or Die


In 1961 a race to Torquay was instigated by Sir Max Aitken to test and develop the cruising boats of the day into safe reliable means of enjoying the water by individuals and families. Over the first 10 years the race openly welcomed designs of craft in all shapes and sizes from hydrofoils to catamarans ie: Bombadillo, Hydroski, Dart 38, Sea Kife and Fat Cat and they set a maximum limit on the engine of 1,000 hp in total. Sadly the next decade, although exciting, saw the whole purpose of the event descend in to a pursuit of power that has resulted in it’s death throes.

Today that same race exists by the skin of its teeth but with the horsepower powering these sea monsters reaching upwards of 2,000hp….way above what the average boater could ever handle, let alone afford’ and as for safety at sea? The reliability of such craft is dubious to say the least and the costs have driven all save a lucky few from the sport and along with them the spectators. The same thing happened with the smaller classes of racers and the number of entrants barely total more than a dozen.

Running the Cowes Torquay is a costly business for the organisers let alone the competitor and with spiralling fuel costs for all involved is it not time we reinvented the game… re- introduce the experimental class, the one off designs and the hybrids…set the max engine output in total to 500hp. . . if motor manufacturers and Formula 1 can get the same or more power from half the engine size why can’t the marine industry? Its time to stimulate the grey cells!

And as for boat designs, has there really been anything new since the RIB which is basically a deep V with a rubber ring? All attempts at reinventing the hull form from wave piercing to tri hulls, sea darts and other such thoughts have been consigned to the mists of time because of the power quest!

In these days of H and S when calling such events races all manner of killjoys emerge to put the damper on such a gathering… whereas a trial would invoke less hostility especially if green fuels, hybrids and experimentals attracted media attention. Let’s revive Tony Needell’s Index of Performance, encourage the privateer back with their home built specials… make an award to the designers for without their input nothing can move forward!

And as for starts… have a pre trial over a measured mile then start them slowest first fastest last and let the elements sort them out, maybe then the powers that be would then allow the RYS startline?

Let’s bring back spectacle to the sport and for god sake simplify the numbering system . . . please! ! !

The first 50 years has served its purpose, craft are now seaworthy, today we have to work to a new set of rules.. with ECONOMY as its root…the motoring world has shown it can be done it is now up to the marine world to take note and adapt or die.

and the Cowes Torquay the most famous and longest running offshore powerboat race in the world? well it seems likely that unless a new format is envisaged or a major sponsor can be found this will be the last race run…..

Mike James       August 2013

Since posting this article over 10 days ago, primarily to stimulate new thinking on the way to move the sport forward there has been no end of debate on the subject….some good some bad, some in agreement and some who have their head in the sand!….please don’t get me wrong the last thing I want is to lose the spectacle of fast boats with all the associated exhaust noise and the neck to neck duelling I have lived for and loved the CT and the CTC since 1961, I DO NOT WANT TO SEE IT END…but what I am saying is that massive engine power is not needed for such a spectacle and there are now very few people who can afford to run such craft.

If power outputs are not drastically reduced who will be racing in 2 years time when petrol tops out at £2 a litre and Diesel at significantly more?

It is time to reassess the sport as a whole and if we do not wake up to this fact we will lose it all, lets get back to basics but with a new agenda Alternative fuels and power systems ..if done properly there will still be the spectacle, the noise and racing but the current craft are fast becoming Dinosaurs and we know what happened to them!


Another survivor


It is entirely fitting that on the eve of the Classic Powerboat Rally another survivor from the 1961 COWES -TORQUAY race has surfaced, the James Taylor of Shoram built “Geranium 2”. Owner Tony Spicer reports that she is afloat but engine less and in need of a thorough survey before he decides what to do with her. Geranium is at Canvey Island and will be remebered as finishing 5th and in the process taking the All British Trophy owner Mrs K Dobson and driver Harry Duckham.

Tony promises to keep us up to date on her future.

What a beauty!

Subject to planning and no last minute hitches this amazing restoration of a circa 1904 to 1908 Harmsworth Trophy racer will be on display at the Classic Rally on the 31st August and 1st September…..she will be on display both static and subject to weather conditions on the water.

This is how the sport began back in 1903 with the first Harmsworth race and is a unique chance to see up close a “Raceboat” of the era and an interpretation of how speed on water was to be attained.


Stop Press:  FIXITOR will be at the Rally in all her glory!….