In 1963 the Bertram Yacht Company, were represented by 8 entrants in the Cowes Torquay offshore race, one of those was Tommy Sopwith’s, Dick Wilkins entered Thunderstreak powered by twin Holman and Moody Ford Interceptors totalling 800hp….she led the race till Lyme Bay when an engine failed and Sopwith retired.
The boat was raced again in 1964 by Jeffrey Quill of Tramontana fame as Sopwith was racing Tramontana 2, she then went back to Sopwith for the 65 race with detuned engines (700hp) but this time a shaft failed….Thunderstreak was then sold on to Keith Schellenberg who had been racing Blue Moppie, she retired yet again in 1966…..
In 67 and still in Schellenberg’s ownership she raced again with engine horsepower now rated at 850 but by 68 had vanished from the racing circuit..We then move to 1969 and entered in the Round Britain race was none other than Thunderstreak with a rather ugly cabin addition and 2 experimental Perkins diesels rated at a measly 350 hp and entered by R DOXFORD but retired!
The once sleek and highly powered Thunderstreak then vanished as do most ex racers only to be glimpsed occasionally in new guises…the first time was on a river mooring and now sporting a wheelhouse that did little to compliment the cabin! Finally she vanished again only to turn up listed on Boatshed at £10,000.00 and not only sporting the wheelhouse but a rear cabin as well. She was at Galleons Marina on the Thames in east London…and in a very poor state! The wooden superstructures had started deteriorating badly, the experimental engines had long gone back to Perkins but she was still Perkins powered!.
For 3 years she sat forlornly looking for a buyer and I must admit I was tempted but she needed stripping back and rebuilding ….then at this years Classic Rally it was hinted that should “Thunderbolt” be up for sale a certain Robin Ward might be interested. It was during various conversations I mentioned Thunderstreak was for sale but at the moment I could not conceive of selling Thunderbolt…..within days Robin had struck a deal with the Marina and she was now his…..at the beginning of October the chainsaw massacre of Galleons Marina took place when the wooden cabins on Thunderstreak’s Bertram 31 hull succumbed to rapid removal
….the first stage in her rebirth had begun….Robin intends to re power with Big Fords and return her to a “racing state”…complete with a unique cabin the style of which should please many who followed racing in the 60’s..
THUNDERSTREAK PROGRESS….As you can see from these new pictures work continues rapidly on the Bertram hull with a new superstructure being built. Internaly the hull has been flow coated and I understand the Ford engines, gearboxes and V drives are due anyday. It is planned that the restored boat in her original colours complete with race no will be the feature boat at the Beaulieu Boatjumble on 27th April.