Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger

25ft Bertram Cruiser

Original engine 310hp Mercruiser Inboard/outboard

Raced by Charles de Selincourt 1963 onward.

The arrival of Dick Bertram with Glass Moppie and YOYO for the 1961, then Blue Moppie and YOYO 2 for the 1962 Daily Express Cowes Torquay powerboat races stimulated great interest in the Bertram built, Ray Hunt designed cruisers within the racing fraternity.

Nelson Yachts had been appointed British importers and ’63 saw the Cowes race with no less than 8 of these American built cruisers entered 5 31’s and 3 25’s , one of these craft was the standard production cruiser Paper Tiger in her vivid Yellow and White colours being raced by Charles de Selincourt who went on to gain fame as Tommy Sopwith’s navigator in later years.

Paper Tiger was raced for the next 5 years and then vanished as do most race craft, being a true cruiser she probably led a happy life somewhere and it would be interesting to know where!.

Fast forward to 2008 and what appears on ebay, Paper Tiger looking in a very sorry and tired state with some ungainly additions in the form of an extended pulpit, bathing platform and tuna tower!!!!!!

Several people were interested in acquiring her but once they found out that the internal foam coring of the cockpit floor and side decks had degenerated, were put off. After several appearances on ebay one brave soul bought her Ian Saunders of Romsey Hants, who was already three quarters of the way through restoration of a Bertram 31 but that is another story.

Tiger was brought back to Hampshire on the back of a low loader as her road trailer had seen far better days and was in a worse state than her. As can be seen from the accompanying photos Ian has attacked the job in hand with vigour and hopes to have her back on the water for early Summer 2010 just in time for the 50th anniversary of the CT.

I have been assured, by Ian, she will be restored to her original glory and he is looking forward to entering some Classic Races with what will be a very reliable offshore cruiser of proven history.

Mike James


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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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