1919 – Enrico Forlanini’s hydrofoil boat – 40mph
1978 – current World Speed Record Holder, Ken Warby’s hydroplane “Spirit of Australia” – 317mph

The evolution of water speed record boats has gone through a number of key changes – each change designed to take the water speed record to a step-change level beyond incremental changes achieved with the existing design norm. Apart from adding more power this has mostly involved lifting more and more of the hull out of the water to reduce hydrodynamic drag. You can see the level that this has reached very clearly if you look at Unlimited Hydroplane or Drag Boat racing. The bits left in the water are just enough to maintain control – albeit right on the very edge most of the time.

Along the design development route, there have been a number of outliers – things that seemed a good idea at the time but which eventually proved to be a dead end. Except that some of those dead ends were the result of technology that was in its infancy or a lack of advanced technology to really research and test the theory. One such area of research has been the use of hydrofoils.

Read more about how hydrofoils have been used in the past.

Have a look at the official UIM Outright Water Speed record holders

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