Until recently, Coniston Water—the English waterway best known for Donald Campbell’s ill-fated and ultimately fatal water-speed record attempt in 1976—had never been run by an Unlimited hydroplane. That changed in November during the annual Coniston Power Boat Records Week, when the Peters & May Unlimited hydroplane took to Coniston’s glassy waters. Not only was the U-11 hydro driven by J.W. Myers, who co-owns the turbine-powered race boat with Scott and Shannon Raney, the first such vessel to grace English waters, it reached a record-setting, two-pass average speed of 175.11 mph on the 1-kilometer course.
Conditions deteriorated after the first day of the event, so much that they prevented the Unlimited hydroplane from making additional attempts break its own top-speed mark. But the hydro was able to perform a few demonstration passes for the spectators on hand, most of whom had never seen one run. According to a press release from Peters & May, the U-11 hydro set a world record for the fasted speed achieved in class, the British record for the fastest speed achieved in class, and the record for fastest propeller-driven boat ever to run on British waters.
“The team achieved everything that we set out to do,” said David Holley, the chief executive officer of Peters & May, in the release. “As well as setting the record, we were able to honor Mike Lovell [a Peters & May-backed driver who died in a Powerboat P1 Super Stock Series crash in September in Weymouth, England] and at the same time create further awareness for powerboat racing in both the UK & the USA. Our commitment to the sport remains as strong as ever, and the future is bright.”
That the Peters & May hydro’s speed record was well below its top speed capabilities was not relevant to anyone on the team, according to Holley. In fact, he said they took a conservative approach by design.
"The boat ran way below its optimum speed as we ran conservatively to preserve all of the equipment for the upcoming Oryx Cup event in Doha,” said Holley. “It was great to set a record based on the current laws of H1 Unlimited. We adhered to all the regulations including the fuel flow restriction [4.1GPM] as well as N2 restrictions and skid fin/prop measurements. We aimed to set a benchmark record, which we did, and the fact that we did it in memory of Mike Lovell made it a very emotional time for us all."