Press Release 14th April 2019

Press Release – 14th April 2019

Embargoed until authorised by UKOPRA / COPC

Following the Classic Offshore Powerboat Club AGM at RAF Yacht Club today a presentation was held at their invite from UKOPRA to publish their new classes for historic racing which take immediate effect.

COPC as an existing avid supporter of the regenerated offshore racing scene in the UK had prior to that presentation formalised their affiliation with UKOPRA by unanimous decision in order to allow event organisation under their sanction.

Much work has gone on in the past months and UKOPRA are extremely grateful to the committee of COPC for their input and assistance in creating the new (old?).

Class 4 Historic

Sub Classes for Class 4 are as follows with offshore general rules to apply.

  • Runabout – Pre 1990 design to a maximum of 115 HP and 21 ft boat length.
  • Cruiser – Pre 1990 design with a maximum speed of 50 knots to be upheld.
  • Purpose designed – Pre 1990 design with a maximum speed of 60 knots to be upheld.

The aim is for historic boats to compete on the same courses as existing UKOPRA Offshore class boats with a reduced distance covered to reflect the need to preserve the historic equipment.

The points system to be allocated to this class of racing will take a form of only 25% coming from final race position with the remainder awarded to criteria relating to Presentation, Age, Spirit, Quality of restoration, Provenance etc.

In addition to the above the publication of new UIM rules relating to Pleasure Navigation now allows the following UIM Group B compliant boats to enter our offshore classes as follows.

  • UIM Promotion Class can enter UKOPRA 3A/B
  • UIM Production Class can enter UKOPRA 3X
  • UIM Super boat Sport S1 and S2 can enter UKOPRA 3N

Minimum levels of equipment carried will be as referred to in the UKOPRA general rules.

Records Weekend

With COPC now formally affiliated they are keen to run an additional event this year and have agreed to host

Performance Records

Event Organiser – Classic Offshore Powerboat Club.

Sanctioning body – UKOPRA

Date – To be advised but provisionally a weekend in late September / early October.

Location – To be advised although the Freshwater area of the Solent is favoured subject to permissions.

Eligibility – All UKOPRA classes with a minimum of two fully licenced offshore licence holders in control.

Course Measurement – Will be over 1 statute mile to be run in both directions and an average speed taken for the two runs.

There will be the opportunity for marine manufacturers to be measured subject to a suitable application and with a minimum of two UKOPRA licence holders in control of the vessel.

Whilst there is no requirement to be a member of any of our affiliated race organisers to take part in activities we do recommend you support them and any potential event sponsors would be gratefully welcomed.

2019 Poole Bay 100




Registration of vessels for any of the above classes will be opened on Monday 15th April 2019 which will add the owner to our databases for email contact.

Please subscribe to for further updates.

Sponsors interested in being involved with the series as a whole should in the first instance contact

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


Please note there is now a FACEBOOK site for Surfury….SURFURY.The future.  and a new website remodelled on the old Chris Grayer site will soon go live but in the meantime I am pleased to announce that the fund has reached £800….thank you to all and keep the interest flowing..

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


Right here is some fantastic news ….little BELLA 2 the entry of Fred Carvill 62.63.64 has turned up ..due for restoration of course but what a find….she is owned by Paul Traylen who I hope to speak to later…but in the meantime we need any info apart from what is already known to help Paul with his project…….MORE TO FOLLOW

Foam Flyer

Good News…… just in regarding Foam Flyer the Watson designed Westcraft raceboat rescued by Mike LLoyd then taken on by Ben Yates and Tim Hardwicke, she is now in storage at the IBTC unit in Portsmouth…awaiting further works…it was IBTC who carried out the hull work on THUNDERBOLT…All work on FF is on hold as Ben and Tim have young families but we are assured she will one day re emerge from enforced storage.

Here and Now

Sad news regarding COPC member Paul Fairall’s classic Huntsman.

This C-T Race veteran from 1962 sadly caught fire off Lymington last weekend, & is pictured in the Daily Echo (Southampton), of Thursday, 12th August.

I have spoken with Paul, who tells me that the fire was in the port side turbo’ unit.

The cabin is luckly undamaged, but the cockpit & windscreen certainly are.

No harm to the crew at all, & the boat is currently out of the water at Lymington Yacht Haven.

I am sure that we all commiserate with Paul, & hope that he persuades his insurers to accept his claim to enable repairs to be put in hand.

GOOD NEWS ….after major surgery the famous Fairy HERE and NOW …is back in service…..


As the above named craft is now under new ownership I thought it time to revamp the article that first appeared on the original web site….

Photographer unknown..from Barry Sales Collection

A`Speranziella, was a design from the board of one Renato Sonny Levi who was born in Karachi (then in India) and worked in his father’s boat building yard in Bombay designing and overseeing production. Now domiciled back in Italy and working for Cantieri Navaltecnica in Anzio the heart of Italy’s boating industry, the excitement of participating in the first modern day powerboat race in Europe had enticed the Italian over to Britain for the race. Levi’s mount A`Speranziella at 30ft was built to his design and as a prototype for a new range of cruisers to be produced by Navaltecnica.

Photo Yachts and Yachting

She was powered by a pair of American Cadillac Crusaders, totalling 600hp run on high octane aviation fuel. When Renato asked the race organisers if the fuel was available in the UK, he was told emphatically no! The engines were de-rated accordingly and he arrived at Cowes prior to the race to find it was available, it was maybe that this proved a costly mistake! They were also allocated race no 17 which is unlucky (as our no 13), in Italy, this was happily changed to 16 for the race, the number she carried all her racing life.

The race has been well documented with the biggest scrap being between A`Speranziella and Thunderbolt each taking the lead but it was in the rough waters off St Catherine’s that A`Speranziella took control as Sopwith throttled back to 10 knots in the torrid conditions. She held the lead through Bournemouth and on to Durleston where the first problems struck, maybe going that little faster in the extreme conditions was overzealous and Thunderbolt regained the lead never to relinquish it again. The bright red Italian pushed on with cracks in cabin structure, splits in the longitudal bearers, a smashed head, split tanks and the engines being temperamental, maybe they were showing a dislike for the lower octane fuel!

Levi brought her in to 6th place at Torquay and set him self on a trail to fame as one of the most outstanding designers of the second half of the century.

Now that bug had bitten, Sonny as he was known, was back in ’62 accompanied by a rebuilt and strengthened A`Speranziella.

Also at Cowes was another new formidable Levi boat, Ultima Dea ( the Last Goddess), powered by three Maserati engines and driven by Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli and a smaller Levi design, Settimo Velo.

The Italians had arrived with their own transport vessel, which doubled as workshop, home and support ship but it was to all be in vain.

The 1962 race was run in rough conditions that suited the big boys of the 41 starters and of course there was none bigger than Dick Wilkins Tramontana, the day did not start well for the Italians when the little Settimo Velo did not make the start.

A`Speranziella was co driven by Commander Attilo Petroni and she showed again as in the previous year that she was a good contender taking the rough seas in her stride, yet again she was battling with Thunderbolt now driven by Pamela Campbell and Lettis Curtis for 5th and 6th places, the crossing of Lyme Bay took its toll on both craft and A`Speranziella approached Torquay much the worse for wear with engine problems and heeling slightly to starboard, she made the trip up to Ore Stone and back to the finishing line crossing in 10th place but unfortunately was disqualified for missing a turning mark. Ultima Dea had finished in 3rd but at prize giving it was YO YO who took the spoils for Ultima had also missed a mark of Bournemouth and Agnelli refused to sign his declaration and was eliminated.

On the day of scrutineering for the 1963 race a familiar shape appeared in Cowes harbour after motoring over from Belgium, looking more purposeful than previous years with a redesigned cabin and powered by 2 new Ford Interceptor engines totalling 800hp, A`Speranziella was back. The whole boat had been rebuilt yet again from lessons learned in the 2 previous races, she was now stronger than ever with additional stringers and bearers including re-engineered spray rails, she was also faster and more reliable.

Such was the status now of the Cowes Torquay a total of 50 entries had been received so the competition was going to be fierce, included were no less than 9 Bertrams including Blue Moppie, Damian and Thunderstreak all rated at 800hp plus White Migrant a 25ft Christina with an engine room full of Ford Dearborn Interceptors giving her an unrivalled power to weight ratio.

The race was run in moderate conditions and the I.O.W. loop saw speeds of 43 knots attained by the leading bunch including all the named above with A`Speranziella in 5th place. Lead boat was Migrant driven by Lord Lucan and Bruce Campbell but at the Needles second time she had vanished, it transpires that the tanks had been overfilled and Lucan was slopping out petrol in the bilges when his cuff caught the propshaft, the material was dragged into the floating bearing which seized and water started pouring in, the bilge pump then packed up and she sank. Next to go was Thunderstreak in Lyme bay, it was here Blue Moppie had water pipes let go and she stopped for repairs. Tramontana 2 made up ground in the rough water but the leader after all this action was the Italian, a lead she held to the finish. So it was third time lucky for Sonny and there was never a more deserved victor, his success was even sweeter when in sixth place came the diminutive TRIDENT driven by Don Shead with a similar boat Jupiter in 16th, both designed by Levi and built by R.W.Clarke in Cowes. You knew who was going to be flavour of the month next year and his success as designer and driver set the seal on his future.

Photo from the Ford Brochure at the Boat Show in 1964

A`Speranziella never raced again in the CT but made an appearance in the hands of circuit racer Tom Percival in the first Round Britain Powerboat Race in 1969 with sponsorship from Robinsons Barley Water and painted with lurid diagonal stripes, she unfortunately broke down and retired at Milford Haven.


Like all old racers the boat vanished into private hands but was advertised in Motor Boat and Yachting in the 80’s though said to be in poor condition. Then surprise surprise she was purchased, restored by Nigel Bowdler and appeared at Cowes in 1987 only to vanish yet again, she was also the subject of an article in Sonny Levis’ book Milestones in my designs.

10 years ago she was purchased from Adam Younger by Sebastian Stapleton and was reportedly to undergo another restoration including the fitting of replacement Ford Interceptors but this stalled and she suddenly came up for sale again and as the new owner put it was a giant jigsaw puzzle having been totally dismantled. That new owner is a total Levi fan having already restored a Triana and now has the gargantuan task of restoring ‘A’…the new owner is COPC Member Barry Sales and he deserves all our support in this task..I also believe a special web site is due to go on line to record the progress

It is heart warming that another CT winner is at last being afforded the acknowledgement due and one of the most famous Levi  racers will be back on the water one day.


S.E.Saunders Launch

Back in 1984 Idug an old powerboat / launch out of the mud of Benfleet creek in Essex. As a young boatbuilder i had admired the hull ever since I was a kid & along with many others had on occasion tried to buy her. Her somewhat eccentric owner had an eclectic collection of over 20 boats all of which he managed to destroy through utter neglect.

The sole survivor was the launch & I bought her from his estate after his death.

Loa 27′  6″ x 5′ 8″ beam. Single engine with p bracket

She was Built By S E Saunders ltd in approx 1905 of  Saunders patent consuta sewn plywood construction. This was very light & strong but was extremely difficult to repair, consequently there are very few survivors. Apart from the original umpires launch Consuta & a couple of other umpires launches i knew of only 3 other surviving Saunders launches of this construction. My boat was unusual in that she had rolled angle iron frames in way of the engine bay with full length massive engine beds. This is almost certainly why she survived so long!

I with my wife did a lot of research at the old Motor boat museum at Pitsea & also at the National maritime museum, inc Loyds register.We never did identify her name or any history prior to 1935.

We did find some references in the Motor boat magazines from 1904-5 that Saunders started fitting steel frames to some boats around that time following some hull problems with boats being raced.

As to “was she a racer?” it would appear to be likely but we have nothing really to go on. Its obvious she was built to carry a large powerplant & in Ray Wheelers book From river to Sea  there are several photos of similar boats.

After quite a few years sat in the back of my boatshed I rebuilt the hull, this was a major task owing to extensive rot & ice damage.

Then a 10 year lay off due to our son arriving & too much to do!

Circumstances have now arrived where i have the time to finish her & I am looking forward to this as im now 53 & really need to get her finished!

If you have any ideas on where I might find any more info about her I would be grateful. Im also thinking that maybe somewhere in a dusty shed there might possibly be an unlikely surviving engine from the dawn of powerboating that needs a hull to live in!

Anywhere you can point me would be greatly appreciated.

I can be contacted on 01268 752665 or mob 07895 036766

Regards Keith



CT 1961 by Charles Lawrence

Right after a very depressing week we are back….and something that cheered me up immensely …Charles Lawrence’s new book..all 120 pages devoted to the first Cowes Torquay recommended to all who remember the Golden Years and full of unseen details and photo’s. It is hot off the press and orders can be taken via Charles at…….Price £20 plus P&P…Copies will probably be available at the Classic Rally or through the club.