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Spirit of Australia
Spirit of Australia in which Ken Warby set the world water speed record in 1978 on Blowering Dam, New South Wales, Australia. In the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney.

Spirit of Australia is a wooden speed boat built in a Sydney backyard, by Ken Warby, that broke and set the world water speed record on 8 October 1978.

The record and boat

On 8 October 1978, Ken Warby drove Spirit of Australia on the Tumut River near the Blowering Dam in Australia on opposite direction runs of 492.813 km/h (306.220 mph; 266.098 kn) and 529.412 km/h (328.961 mph; 285.860 kn), for an official record of 511.11 km/h (317.59 mph; 275.98 kn), with a peak speed of 555 km/h (345 mph; 300 kn). It was powered by a Westinghouse J34 jet engine. The engine was developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company in the late 1940s and was used for jet fighters and other aircraft. Spirit of Australia is displayed permanently at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales.

Built in a Sydney backyard in the 1970s the world's fastest boat Spirit of Australia is now a permanent feature at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Ken Warby designed, built and drove Spirit of Australia to a phenomenal 511 km/h in the 1970s...and his world record still stands today.

By 1974 Spirit of Australia was launched and he was ready to start his first trials. Warby climbed into the cockpit and proved he had a great success - setting an Australian record of 267km/h, but a long way short of the 458.98 km/h world record.

Warby continued to trial his boat, gradually increasing his Australian record. On 20 November 1977 he first succeeded in breaking the world record, with a speed of 464.44 km/h, but shy of breaking the 500 km/h barrier he was ultimately seeking.

It wasn't until a year later, on 8 October 1978, that Ken smashed his own world record with an amazing time of 511.11 km/h on Blowering Dam near Tumut, NSW - setting a new world water speed record which has never been beaten.

Since 1978 there have been a number of attempts at breaking Warby's world water speed record. None has succeeded, some have been fatal.

Australian National Maritime Museum


Starting in the early 1990s, Warby built a second jet boat, Aussie Spirit powered with a fresh Westinghouse J34, but he never made a record attempt with it. Warby and his son Dave are currently working on a new boat Spirit of Australia II, powered by a Bristol Siddeley Orpheus jet engine taken from an Italian Fiat Gina Fiat G.91 fighter plane. The new Spirit of Australia II is now completed and undergoing extensive trials with an attempt targeted for 2020.

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