Renato (Sonny) Levi.

Renato Levi, known to all as Sonny, was born in Karachi, India in 1926.
His father ran a shipyard in Bombay(now Mumbai), so Sonny naturally took an
early interest in boats & ships.

Sonny became an apprentice in his fathers shipyard in Bombay, but with the coming of World War 2, he joined the RAF, becoming a Pilot Officer. No doubt his interest not only in boats but also aircraft was heightened by this part of his life.

Sonny became primarily interested in marine design, especially in relation to smaller, fast craft, and the ability of such craft to withstand the varieties of sea conditions often encountered. He designed craft for his fathers yard during the 1950’s, but moved to Italy in 1960. In Italy, Sonny managed Cantiere Navaltecnica (Canav), in Anzio.

No one of a certain age can forget “A’Speranziella”, built by Canav to Sonny’s design for the 1961 Cowes-Torquay Race. She finished sixth, after experiencing mechanical problems, but had led the race for a considerable distance, dueling with the eventual winner “Thunderbolt”.

After partially re-building the boat in light of the experiences of 1961, success dawned with a win in the 1962 Viareggio-Bastia Race. Further developments resulted in great success with “A’Speranziella” winning the 1963 Cowes-Torquay Race.

Sonny became a world renowned designer of fast craft largely as a result of these successes, and the many fast craft he designed culminated in the 1965 launch of
“Surfury”, often thought of as one of Sonny’s most memorable designs. This boat
made a name for herself, winning Cowes-Torquay in 1967. “Surfury” was the first of Sonny’s much lauded Delta designs.

This success brought more commissions, and Levi designs were sought world wide,
where fast sea-going boats were needed.

In the 1980’s, Richard Branson commissioned Sonny to design “Virgin Atlantic
Challenger II”, which was successful in recording the then fastest trans-Atlantic crossing, despite contaminated fuel issues en route. This famous boat was certainly a fabulous marker in Sonny’s career. “VAC II” not only had its design by Sonny, but also the Levi Drive system too.

Developments in high speed propeller and drive systems have been part of Sonny’s
great contribution to fast boat development over the last forty or more years.

Martin Napier

Westcraft of Topsham

If anyone remembers and has any details, information or knows the whereabouts of any boats built by Westcraft of Topsham, I should be delighted to hear from them.

Westcraft’s diminutive Ianthe was the only outboard boat to reach Torquay in the first Cowes-Torquay in 1961, although it was out of time. It also competed in ’62 and ’63.
The Westcraft boats were designed by Allen McLachlan of GL Watson and Partners who then devised the ‘Ragged Chine’ hull form. If you are not familiar with it, it comprises 9 or 12 spray rails butted together each side, and was said to give a very soft ride.
An unknown number of ragged chine cruisers and fishing boats around 25 feet were cold moulded by Westcraft, and their best known was a 26 footer, Foamflyer, which was 10th in the 1969 Round Britain race.
Sadly their builder, Dick Read and his daughter, were killed off Portland Bill in 1972.

The ragged chine was adopted by the RNLI for its inshore rescue boats, and also the Arran lifeboat prototype.
It was also adopted by Kappa Marine in Milan, who produced slightly larger boats in grp in the 1980s.
Other, larger, ragged chine raceboats were built elsewhere, and included Zingara and Big Moose

A Read family member and some former employees have provided some material, but the boats themselves remain elusive!

Any information welcome

WoodenBoat Bertram 31 article

Several of you have noticed the article ‘A Wide White Road’ in the magazine WoodenBoat no 245, which tells of the development of Ray Hunt’s Bertram 31. Sadly, it concludes that the Bertram 31 “was the first true production powerboat with a deep-V hull.”

The Bertram 31 was announced at the New York Boat Show in January 1961, nine months after the prototype ‘Moppie’ won the 1960 Miami-Nassau race. But by January 1961 the Fairey production lists indicate that over 40 of the British built hot moulded Hunt deep-V hulls had been produced and sold as Christinas, Huntresses, Huntsmen and Dell Quay Rangers.  Brochures and advertisements for each of these boats proudly proclaimed the advantage of their Ray Hunt designed deep-V hulls.

My response to WoodenBoat can be found at:



I am researching the 1961 Cowes Torquay Race and would be very interested to receive any information, pictures or even gossip about the entries, and what became of them.
In particular, the boats that did not start, where nothing at all is known.

1 Huntsman No 8 – Huntsman, B Butlin/ P Twiss, retired, believed lost
2 Santa Rosa – non starter, nothing known
3 Thunderbolt – Christina 25, T E B Sopwith, winner, restored, in service Hamble
4 Coralie – Christina 23, D G Hawkins, out of time, present whereabouts unknown
5 Contango A – Christina 25, P Raymond, retired, awaiting restoration
6 Christina – Christina 25, B Campbell, 4th, possibly became Lobster Thermidor, present whereabouts unknown
7 Anglesey – Pochins, U Fox, retired, believed lost
8 Carronade – Force 8, LtCol C R Kindersley, retired, present whereabouts unknown
9 Juniper – Force 8, V Smith, non starter, present whereabouts unknown
10 Thunderbird – Prout catamaran, R & F Prout, retired, present whereabouts unknown
11 Geranium II – Taylor 40, Mrs K J Hobson, 5th, present whereabouts unknown
12 Monaco Fortuna – Monaco, Cpt M Morgan-Giles, 10th, present whereabouts unknown
14 Gay Gazelle – Cox&Haswell 40, S C Macey, 9th, present whereabouts unknown
15 Yo-Yo – Bertram 25, J R Wynne, 2nd, present whereabouts unknown
16 A’Speranziella – Levi 30, R Levi, 6th, being restored
17 Paprika – Rayner 30, P S Lane, non starter, nothing known
18 Snowgoose of Sarum – Shakespeare, H L Curtis, retired, lost
19 Huricain – Venables, A W Venables, retired, nothing known
20 Maid of Baltimore – Huntress 23, J B Drake, non starter, in service Fleetwood
21 Hunt 34 – Port Hamble, D Sessions, 8th, present whereabouts unknown
22 Kanita – Monaco, E G Dawes, out of time, present whereabouts unknown
23 Ianthe – Westcraft, H R Read, out of time, present whereabouts unknown
24 Jaginthebox – Eckford, J W H Wells, non starter, nothing known
25 Camelot – Force 8, K W Milligan, non starter, present whereabouts unknown
26 Bella – Ancas, F E Carvill, retired, nothing known
27 Diesel Huntsman – Huntsman, C Currey, 3rd, believed lost
28 Grayling – James&Caddy, S Ryland, retired, nothing known
29 Aristocrat – Acqua Craft, H Clark, retired, nothing known
30 Vantage – Nelson, J Dupree, out of time, present whereabouts unknown
31 Yeomana III – Nelson, O Aisher, out of time, present whereabouts unknown
32 Lady Eve – Bulger, R R Somerville, non starter, nothing known
33 Sandra Spencer – Bell Woodwork, J H Byles, retired, nothing known
34 Channel Crusader – Jennercraft, A V Gledhill, non starter, nothing known
35 Blue Marlin – Force 8, D Watson, retired, present whereabouts unknown
36 Lazy Doll – Ranger 25, A Charlesworth, non starter, nothing known
37 Per Chance III – Owens, P R Parson, non starter, nothing known
88 Glass Moppie – Bertram 31, S Griffith, retired, present whereabouts unknown
39 Explorer – non starter, nothing known

I am also interested in any information about some early registrations of interest which failed to materialise as entries a month later. . .

Sequin 18’6″ – J A Sizer, Yeovil
Tod Tuna 20 – D J A Dale, Torbay Marine
Hurricane 36 – D Wickins,Farnham
Hurricane 36 – Sir R Hobart
Rayner 37’6″ – A J Leonard (Park Gates Marine)
unknown – S Handel, London NW6
Ranger 25 – I Scott Watson, Berwick
unknown – G Maude, Stockport
unknown – E Smith Morris (Island Marine)
unknown – Hepburn Yacht Company, Chertsey
Jennercraft – D B Millbank, Norwich
Cresta Craft – C D Harris, Cresta Craft, Langley
Tod Tuna 20 – K Bogeberg (W & J Todd), Weymouth
Coronet 22 – J Major, Harrow
unknown – H C Notley, Whitstable
Freeman Cruiser – John Freeman Ltd, Hinkley
Christina – T Adams
Christina – M Broadhead
Ranger 25 – Dell Quay Yacht Yard
Avon 20 – Power Marine, Gatwick
Huntress 23 – C T Miller, Sandwich
Merker, Chriscraft or Bertram 31 – Dr O Trost, Dusseldorf
unknown – Harrop, Petersfield
Tod 20 – Booch (Fare Lee Motors Ltd)
unknown – Denby’s Holdings Ltd, Birmingham
Amberjack II (36’) – R Sale, Hollywood, USA
unknown – J Kinman, Waasenaar, Holland
unknown – Dawes, R T Y C, Torquay
unknown – Cdr W B Luard, Falmouth
unknown – Tobiasen, Oslo
Can’t Wait II – T W Kaufman, Carrollton USA
22’ Sport Fisherman – R Somerville, Portsmouth
unknown – Bud Schraeder, Niagara Falls, USA
unknown – W Austin, Barton-on-sea
unknown – B Hodgson, Bedford

Again, any information is welcome, even “Oh wasn’t that the chap who . . ” can provide useful leads!

Many thanks for your time in reading this
Charles Lawrence

Morgan Giles Monaco 52

A 1959 Morgan Giles Monaco, larger, but closely related to the Monacos that appeared in early Cowes Torquay races, is under restoration on the Thames. To be used as a live-aboard, the owners nevertheless intend to revive the original Detroit diesels etc.
A film crew was aboard whilst she was at Chiswick Pier, and she should appear in ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ at 8pm on Channel 4 on Thursday 13th (this week).


PS her original owner was none other than Tommy Sopwith . .

Brooke Marine racer circa 1911

This Brooke Marine racer has come to light in the Netherlands. The original engine is not known – it now has a Volvo B20 – but Brooke were well known as engine builders before they became boat builders.
The boat has a Broads Authority licence from 1991, when she was known as Pip and registered to A Knowles.

Historic film material

We have been offered original film material: some 30 reels of publicity material from the 1980s, mainly on Fairey’s (or specifically FBM’s) final patrol boats etc

It is in obsolete formats : Unimatic (U-Matic) ¾” tape; 1″ video tape and Fairchild Moviepack 10 and 20 (8mm film cassette)

Does anyone have experience of theses formats, or contacts who could provide economical transcription?

Please get in touch

Bill Maloney

We are sad to report the death of Bill Maloney of Sorcerer Boats.

There will be a funeral at 3.00pm at Poole Crematorium on Tuesday 7th January 2014 and a gathering afterwards in Three Legged Cross.

Please email for further information.

Deep V debate

On the FOC forum I have posted a 1965 article by John Teale,with responses from Peter Du Cane and Alan Burnard, which might be of interest to other COPC members

rather irritatingly it seems that some browsers run a spell check and some of the V-e-e-s have changed to F-e-e-s !


Motor Boats Monthly – December

Our Commodore won the rum for his letter of the month urging support for the heritage of boating and the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes. . .
There is also a serious article on Sonny Levi followed by a road test of the latest version of the Corsair