Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider







Ghost Rider
Jim Wynn, since the inception of the Cowes Torquay in 1961 had entered every race with mostly production based
cruisers but the inventor of the Inboard Outboard and designer of the first “Formula” make of powerboats had yet to win
this most prestigious of Races to add to his victories in the States.
Jim Wynn, since the inception of the Cowes Torquay in 1961 had entered every race with mostly production based cruisers but the inventor of the Inboard Outboard and designer of the first “Formula” make of powerboats had yet to win this most prestigious of Races to add to his victories in the States.

Commissioned by sportsman Hugh Doyle to design an entry for the 1966 season, the Wynn/Walters partnership produced the designs for a 28 footer which went on to win the Miami Key West, The Hurricane Classic and the Miami Nassau and was then shipped to England for the Cowes Torquay..

The 1966 Cowes race turned out to be one of the meanest roughest races that decade but started off in reasonably good weather and had one of the top notch entries of the time including Surfury, Flying Fish, Delta 28, Merrick Lewis had brought over Thunderbolt from the States along with Thunderbird for Attillo Petroni to drive, in their search for World Championship points. The Italian contingent failed to appear this included Delta Synthesis, Delta Blue and Agnelli’s ULTIMA VOLTA.

The start of the race saw Delta and Surfury storm off into the Solent hotly pursued by Thunderbird and Albert Figgins Thunderfish, following them came Ghost Rider with one engine firing on 7 cylinders only and the bow tank not filling properly so she was purposing quite noticeably but leading a group of fancied rough water boats, including Flying Fish ,Tramontana 2 and News of the World with Peter Twiss at the wheel. The big boats were being left behind in the smooth Solent waters and second time past Cowes saw a battle between Surfury and Delta for the lead, Merrick Lewis was out already with a lost prop. 

As the fleet led by Surfury and Delta left the Solent the first to feel the strain of the high speed was Delta who stopped with a loose ballast tank pipe resulting in her erratic, unstable porpoising and chine dancing due to the incredible power of her twin Daytona’s through her single prop. Surfury headed across Poole bay on onto Durleston and it was from here on the first of the heavy swells started to make themselves felt ,the tail end of a hurricane that was blowing itself out on Britain’s shores. Behind her Delta was moving again and Ghost Rider suddenly regained full use of her oiled up plug and 7 cylinders became 8 but still had no ballast tank!

Flying Fish moved up the fleet as the rougher water suited her long hull along with Tramontana and battled now for the lead with Surfury. Wynn in Ghost Rider was taking things cautiously but was caught by several rogue waves and it was landing off one of these that saw his co driver Bob Sherbert crumple into a heap on the cockpit floor. Being a gentleman driver Wynn was in two minds whether to carry on or make for the nearest port to seek aid for Bob, the injured Sherbert gestured for him to carry on! Wynn made Bob Sherbert as comfortable as possible wedged into the cockpit corner and set off after the leaders whom he presumed to be Surfury and Flying Fish.

By the time the leading boats had reached Portland Bill the weather was deteriorating rapidly with long swells and 6 to 8 ft waves, one by one they fell, Surfury with smashed engine bearer and damaged oil lines, Delta’s exhaust manifold had broken, Flying Fish was now sinking after hitting a submerged object which ripped her bottom open and the crew of Tramontana 2 were semi comatose with carbon monoxide poisoning from a broken exhaust. Unknown to Wynn he was leading, the nearest boat was Spirit of Ecstacy, half an hour behind but built for exactly these kind of conditions and nearly twice Ghost Riders size! All the film and stills of the race show Wynn bouncing off the waves with Bob Sherbert braced and grappling for a hand hold in an extremely uncomfortable position.

The rest is all now well documented, Wynn led into Torbay with Spirit closing fast but the smooth waters allowed him to open up and cross the line but did not slow , he sped into Torquay Harbour at a rate of knots and docked, Bob Sherbert was gently lifted out of the cockpit and stretchered to a waiting ambulance , it transpired that as they crashed off the rogue waves into the trough’s Sherbert was caught out and a broken ankle resulted, I wonder how many sportsmen?!… would carry on today with such an injury and in those conditions?

Wynn had done it, the Beaverbrook Trophy would carry his name and another legend was created by the Cowes- Torquay.

40 years later and fully restored!

GHOST RIDER is now in the safe hands of Barry Cohen in America, often attends races, displayed on her trailer and attracts large crowds.

More on GHOSTRIDER can be found on

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider


Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

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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

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