How to rescue SURFURY

I have been asked how and why no one is able to take Surfury on…. this is the answer…

Firstly you need a suitable space to display it must be large enough to accommodate her and for her to be displayed correctly, remember she is 36ft long, 42 on trailer…the trailer is old and extremely cumbersome (we are talking 1965 design and build)..she should really be in a proper display cradle.

Next…She will only be handed on loan permanent or otherwise to a suitable Museum or Charitable Trust who can prove they have the resources and premises in which to keep her. This is where the Classic Boat Museum Cowes comes into the picture but until they have a suitable “large” premises they are unlikely to be able to take her on although they would like to do so but cannot as their situation is “unpredictable”.

Hence the first objective is to secure the future of the CBM in Cowes there must be a building which would be suitable to accommodate them in the town and become a sure fire tourist attraction.You would then need to get a philanthropist or 2 onboard to underwrite the future of such a project (Peter de Savary etc etc)

Once the above is in place an application would have to be made to the NMM for charitable custody of her along with proof that she would be in secure tenureship. This I believe would be no problem as in the case of the Basildon museum where she was on permanent loan till they folded.

Basically it all comes down to money, sponsorship and suitable building PREFERABLY IN COWES! Then with that secured she would be released and the work could begin…if the CBM had such a building then the whole history of our boating industry could take on a proper form and be a genuine representation of an industry that generates an income of £3 billion annually!

I rest my case!


Whilst searching for answers to the Delta 28 mystery and as to the fact whether the previous article shows her with cabin / wheelhouse, I came across this built by Souters and designed by one Erbil Seter who specialised in Naval craft. Graham (the Fish) supplied me with a picture of her in “build” but it did not show the unusual lines that appear here…..I understand she was later broken up…cannot image why!

Is Delta still with us?

Following on from the Surfury saga I remember finding a photo of Delta with a cabin (in colour) and based in the South of France. Unable to find any trace of it I posted a request on Boatmad and guess who came up trumps…

Graham of course! not only that but who knew that she spent time in the USA racing?…neither did I. The only question now is where is she if she is still with us? anyone know ? bear in mind the advert was 33 odd years ago.



Whilst hunting for a photograph of DELTA 28 with cabin as seen about 4 years ago I came across these pictures of Spirit of Ecstacy before she was broken up in the Soto Grande compound….sad end to a beautiful craft.

Surfury continued

If there was any doubt as to the lack of importance the NMM attaches to some of the stock it owns then this is it…..they are obviously totally unaware of the history of the craft and I get the feeling it is an unwanted item they even ask for information to be added to their entry… the way one wonders what other craft are owned by them but search for a listing and you get little or nothing …

SURFURY: The case for urgent remedial works.

As mentioned in the previous article Surfury is corroding away… is now 44 years since she was handed over to the NMM and in that time little or no work has been done to maintain her appearance or stop corrosion and rot.

The first group of pictures show graphically how badly she is deteriorating and these were taken 5 years ago at Basildon!

Firstly the cockpit

note the instrument panel top left 2 instruments badly rusted…other chrome bezels corroded.

Whole surface coated with dirt and dust, varnish work very tired.

Seat covers faded and the canvas starting to rot, securing ropes rotted, eyelets corroding.

Wheel surround corroded, paint flaking, wheels discoloured, rubber grip rotting.

Plexiglass crazed.

Rear of seating

bar padding securing tape dried out wooden seat supports missing screws and varnish jaded, wood going black.

Cabin Photo


deck paint faded cabin side to tanks paint breaking down and lifting.

Front Deck

all safety wire and posts missing, deckware corroding and note damage to deck surface back to bare wood.

Painted non slip surface badly faded.

The Engine Bay

when last seen the worst problems were in the engine bay…picture this, cast iron blocks, alloy headers, rubber hoses circa 1964/5, Alloy pulleys and pumps all subjected to salt water and never cleaned down. Electrical cables corroding and connectors broken. Oil seals failed, water seals failed the bilge filling with fluids.

As regards the hulls condition, she has been sat on her trailer for the same length of time albeit fully supported but it is not an ideal situation. No one knows the condition of the laminated hull or decking and although she is in a large building ..IS IT WATERPROOF? Any roof leaks could subject her to even more problems if not spotted and steps taken.

The 1965 Design Breakthrough

The 36ft long needle nosed hull looked like nothing ever seen before, her space age looks had the pundits shaking their heads in disbelief and uttering such comments as “it will never work”.

Not only was her hull shape totally alien to anything racing in 1965, her 1000 horsepower engine installation defied convention and had never been used before on the British offshore racing scene. It had been experimented with in the USA in 1964, in a raceboat called Holocaust, a 23ft Formula which developed a serious chine riding motion due to the power being fed through the single shaft.

When travelling at her top most limits she also developed the same unnerving Chine ride!, but at a steady 60mph she rode perfectly albeit with a little porpoising….in 1966 the 28ft Ghost Rider used the same tandem layout and won that years Championship outright! But we are talking of course about “SURFURY”.

The Deep “V” born 8 years earlier by Ray Hunt and copiously copied had overnight trans-morphed into what Sonny Levi, her designer, had termed the “Delta”. The boat was to be the replacement for their race winning Bertram 31 “Surfrider” and carried over the Gardner Brothers unique trademark twin position steering!.

1965 signaled the start of a new era in Offshore Powerboating a trend that was set by Surfury’s out of the box speed, never officially declared but reckoned to be 70mph. There were problems of course, the tandem coupling of the 2 powerful Turbocharged Daytona’s through gearbox’s to the single shaft then to the Zip strut rudder mounting meant propellers lasted little more than one race before being destroyed by the forces of the water they displaced. The engines and their unique installation also created problems for engineer Ivor Verlander as he rode shotgun behind the drivers peering at his charges through the perspex engine covers, broken engine mounts, loose tappets and piping contorting itself through the enormous pressures encountered.

Her first major race was a re run of the previous years dual with Dick Bertram, his new mount “Brave Moppie”, Bertram was keen to avenge his ’64 Cowes Torquay defeat. Brave at 38ft was 2ft longer than Surfury and diesel powered, she was admirably suited to the race conditions that ensued in the 65 race.


At the start of the 65 Cowes Torquay, Surfury shot past the Squadron line into the lead and into the hearts of the 1000’s of spectators lining Cowes Promenade and coastal vantage points. As the fleet fought their way to Torquay Brave Moppie took the lead in the Solent leg with the Gardeners content to run in Bertram’s wake but on the return passing of Cowes Surfury again demonstrated her power prowess and sped past Brave Moppie. This was the pattern set for the next leg out of the Solent and on towards Portland Bill, both craft taking the deepening swells at approximately 49 mph. Then shortly after passing St Albans the gremlins struck Surfury…she came down off the plane and turned for home, Bertram had seen his only challenger fall away and plunged on towards Lyme Bay.


This was a bitter pill for her crew to swallow but within 30 minutes and to everyone’s delight she was racing again. Ivor had found a loose rocker nut, both engines were again running sweetly and the dart shaped craft set off after Bertram and the now second place boat Merrick Lewis in Thunderbird. Bad luck struck again in West Bay when the bow tank refused to fill and they lost trim tabs but undeterred they carried on across Lyme Bay despite the somewhat uncomfortable ride and were now placed fourth after being passed by Tramontana 2.


Bertram swept into Torbay, on approaching the finishing line he completed a double sweep to ensure they crossed the correct position and erasing last year’s bad memories. 9 mins later Thunderbird swept across the line at the same time Tramontana and Surfury rounded Berry Head into the smooth water of Torbay. Tramontana had also fared badly in the Lyme Bay crossing when a 16ft split along the hull opened up and she lost a heat exchanger through it. Surfury snapped at the heavier boats heels and to a great roar in Torquay passed and pulled away, crossing the line in 3rd. The crew disappointed perhaps but the boat showed tremendous promise and Levi’s delta design put the boot squarely into those who had doubted his genius.

Surfury ruled the waves for the next 4 years, won the Cowes Torquay outright in 1967 and came 2nd in 1968 beaten by Tommy Sopwith’s diminutive Telstar after his cheeky inshore route, taken to avoid the rough weather that saw Magnum Tornado sink whilst battling with Surfury. It was to be another 12 years before another major offshore design breakthrough came, the Beard /Curtis catamaran Yellowdrama 3.

Surfury was retired after her last race in 1970 and was donated to the nation by the Gardner Brothers. She has spent most of her time since on display at the Basildon Powerboat Museum but after the museum’s closure she was transported to the NMM storage facility near Swindon where she now sadly corrodes and fades away in desperate need of a full restoration and a permanent home!

Surfury was a true design breakthrough and is still fondly remembered and talked about by offshore fans world wide, no other Offshore Raceboat has ever registered so highly in the minds of people who followed the sport in those early years and also the modern day…well maybe perhaps there is one..”Tramontana 2″ but that’s another story.




Hilary Chitty

For those who are able to attend the details of the funeral are reproduced below thanks to Martin Napier.
Hilary Chitty’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, 12th February.
10.20hrs at North Devon Crematorium, Old Torrington Road, Barnstable, EX41 3NW
This will be followed by a thanksgiving service –
12.30hrs at St.Petroc’s Church, Colt Lane, Petrockstowe, EX20 3HQ
Following the service, there will be a “Get Together” at the local village hall.

Class 3 Catamaran

I have yet again be corrected by the Oracle…Graham Stevens reminds me that Flyover was not the first Class 3 Catamaran to race but it was in fact Doug Norvall’s CHEETAH…..although I will point out that Cheetah did not have twin sponsons but was a monocoque with a tunnel moulded into the hull.

and whilst we are on that subject Jeff Hall our American friend sent me this fascinating picture of FLYOVER in the US where she first raced in the Miami Nassau before being shipped to GB…where Tommy raced her with Doug Norvall! This side view almost makes her look like a monohull and a larger sister to THUNDERFLASH, she also bears an uncanny resemblance to Bobby Rautboard’s FINO…..

Note : Little was understood about the pressures exerted on the wing section joining the two hulls and she began to show signs of breaking up after 3 races although as previously stated was very fast.