Power Boat Speed

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by Kevin Desmond. 256p1s. 11.1/4″ x 8.1/4″. (Conway Maritime Press Ltd, 24 Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4 8DR. £19.95)

What a very welcome publication this is, covering as it does the complete history of motor-boat racing and record-breaking, and written by an author who has recently devoted much time and support to this particular branch of mechanical endeavour. It is no superficial coffee-table book — there are no colour plates but black-and-white photographic coverage is splendid

That there is a definite link with motor racing is seen by the number of drivers listed in the six-page index: Max Aitken, Peter Ashcroft, Woolf Barnato, Malcolm Campbell, the Marquis de Casa-Maury, Colin Chapman, John Cobb, Kaye Don, S F Edge, George Eyston, the Guinness brothers, Frank Halford, Tazio Nuvolari, Henry Segrave and Tommy Sopwith are just some who catch the eye. Other racing personalities crop up on the engineering side, most of the engines with which we are familiar having been used in fast boats.

That is one reason for reading this fascinating book. The other is that it gives a full insight into, and a complete record of, the motor-boat racing world from 1885 onwards. It is well produced on art paper which displays the rare photographs to advantage, and the type-size is small so that an enormous amount is crammed into 256 pages. I found the story absorbing and the selection of pictures enthralling.

All types of boat are covered, and technical developments discussed, as speeds rose from 60 mph to the 300 mph target. Outboards are not neglected, and famous pilots, trophies and venues are splendidly depicted. One picture typical of the boating scene is that of Viscount Forbers’ Dupuy-Soriano in transit on the top of his 36/220hp Mercedes-Benz. . .

So here is a book which makes a change from motoring literature and which will be in great demand, I am sure, among all those interested in speed on water. WB