Jim Wynn

Jim Wynn

Jim Wynn Jim Wynn
Jim Wynn, a powerboat racer and pleasure-boat designer who influenced both aspects of boating, died in
Miami after an extended illness at the age of 60.

Jim Wynn’s engineering developments in creating and perfecting the deep-V hulls and the inboard/outboard
powerboat drive engines known as stern drives not only made possible high-speed offshore racing but also
proved a boon to millions of pleasure and military craft afloat worldwide.

In 1958, he and a fellow boat builder, Ole Botved, completed the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by
outboard motor, going from Copenhagen to New York City in 11 days.

In 1964, Wynne won the first World Open Class championship. He won the title again two years later.

Besides competing, Wynne often wrote on offshore powerboat racing. He was also an accomplished skin diver who
appeared in the television series “Sea Hunt” with Lloyd Bridges.

Jim Wynne, invented Volvo Penta’s aquamatic drive, and was named the most influential person in the motor boat
industry in the 20th Century according to a ranking in the highly regarded Motor Boat & Yachting.

The Volvo Penta “Aquamatic Drive”, which was launched in 1959, is according to Motor Boat and Yachting,
“the 20th Century’s single most important development in small-craft technology, which made the mass production of
cheap, fast, inboard sports boats possible.”

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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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