Thunderbolt 25′ Christina
|In 1961, the August Bank Holiday weekend in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, was typical, the weather was
overcast with a threatening dark sky, but history was about to be made as twenty seven boats were ready to
do battle in the first modern day powerboat race in Europe, The Cowes Torquay Offshore Powerboat Race!In 1961, the August Bank Holiday weekend in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, was typical, the weather was overcast with a threatening dark sky, but history was about to be made as twenty seven boats were ready to do battle in the first modern day powerboat race in Europe, The Cowes Torquay Offshore Powerboat Race!
The fleet was a mixture of craft including a Shakespeare cabin cruiser with twin outboards and cupboards full of china, a beautiful Dorset Lake built cruiser, 40′ in length, driven by Steve Macey and called Gay Gazelle. A Prout catamaran (There is nothing new in this sport!) powered by twin Evinrude outboards, American Bertram’s driven by Dick Bertram and Jim Wynn. Several Fairey Huntsman 27 footers, one owned by Billy Butlin (of Butlin’s holiday camp fame) and five Bruce Campbell built Christina hulls, one of which was called Thunderbolt, driven by a sports car racer Tommy Sopwith, son of aviation pioneer Sir Thomas Sopwith.
At the drop of the flag, signalling the start to the very first Cowes Torquay race, the fleet shot of towards Southsea with Billy Butlin’s Huntsman in the lead hotly pursued by Dick Bertram in Glass Moppie with two Christina hulls in third and fourth place, Bruce Campbell’s own boat named appropriately enough – “Christina” with Tommy Sopwith just behind in Thunderbolt. The soon to famous Italian designer Sonny Levi was running in fifth position in A’Speranziella.
By the time the fleet had circumvented the Isle of Wight and headed past the Needles onto Bournemouth the weather had turned, with force five winds creating an extremely lumpy sea, speeds fell to ten knots, Sonny Levi swept into the lead as they rounded Poole bay, this was to be her undoing, behind her the stragglers fought their way into the winds and many fell by the wayside including the Shakespeare with cupboards full of now broken china and her domestic glass windows threatening to shatter with every wave they hit! The Prout cat beached at St Catherine’s, holed, and Billy Butlin threw a prop.
7 hours and 25 minutes later Thunderbolt swept into Torquay to average 25mph for the 159 mile course followed by Yo Yo and Huntsman 27 to win what was to become the holy grail of powerboat racers world wide, the Beaverbrook Trophy and the Cowes-Torquay.
Designed by Ray Hunt and built at Hamble by Bruce Campbell
9′ 8″ BEAM
Hull by Walter Lawrence three layers of quarter inch ply cold moulded stiffened and strengthened with internal plates under both engines, externally, unlike most Christina’s she also has a final diagonal laminate keel to waterline plus another length of veneer from the bow to stern between the 2nd and 3rd spray rails.
Power 2x 325hp Cadillac Crusaders
Steering; mechanical on right angle gearing box’s and solid shafts with universal couplings to 2 spade rudders
Controls; Bloctube aircraft type using hollow bronze tube and ball joint couplers.
Fuel Tanks; 5 aluminium welded aircraft grade total capacity 175 gallons
Instrumentation; 2 oil pressure 2 oil temp 2 water temp 2 amp meters 5 fuel 2 electric repeater compasses and 2 rev counters.
Drive; 2 x1 and a quarter inch stainless steel shafts close coupled with 1 driven thro V drive.