Thunderbolt 25′ Christina

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.

Cowes, Isle of Wight, August Bank Holiday Weekend 1961, Cowes Torquay Powerboat Race

Thunderbolt 1961 Tommy Sopwith on Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt 1961 Tommy Sopwith on Thunderbolt
THUNDERBOLT SPECIFICATIONS

Designed by Ray Hunt and built at Hamble by Bruce Campbell

25′ LOA

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.

Recent Posts

JOHN IDDON

Dear Members and friends 

You have probably all heard by now of the sad passing of our founder John Iddon….without whose foresight our club would not have come into existence.. John was adamant that the club would lead the way back to powerboating as we knew it in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s…with friendship and sportsmanship at its heart…how sad that just recently his wish seems to be on the verge of becoming fact again…..John was powerboating …he built them , raced them and scrutineered them .  He knew the sport inside out …one of the back room boys so often overlooked…we have lost a good friend and mentor…

FUNERAL DETAILS

The Late John.K.Iddon.
As many of you will have heard, John Iddon passed away last Sunday morning, 5th November, peacefully at home, aged 90.
I now have details for his funeral, which will take place on WEDNESDAY, 6th DECEMBER at 1245hours.
The Funeral is to be at The East Hampstead Crematorium, South Road, Nine Mile Ride (B3430), WOKINGHAM, RG40 3DW
Following the cremation, the wake will be held nearby at East Hampstead Conference Centre, off Peacock Lane, WOKINGHAM,
RG40 3DF
 All are welcome …lets give him a hero’s farewell…
Mike James
Vice President  COPC
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