Jon Craig Arfons

The Fastest Boat

The Fastest Boat
Craig Arfons - On a Wing and a Prayer

Craig Arfons, a former automotive drag racing champion, was the next to take up the challenge [of the world water speed record]. In 1989, he put the finishing touches on a jet hydroplane called Rain-X Record Challenger, which boasted a lightweight composite hull and a jet engine that could deliver 5,500 horsepower with the afterburner lit. Arfons calculated that the boat's favorable thrust-to-weight ratio would give it a 200 percent power advantage over Warby's record-setting boat.

The record attempt took place on Jackson Lake near Sebring, Florida [on July 9, 1989]. Members of Arfons' crew say his boat reached a speed of 263 mph before it became airborne and began to cartwheel across the mirror-smooth lake. Arfons tried to deploy a safety parachute, but the angle at which his boat was traveling  prevented the parachute from opening. Arfons was killed as his boat shattered around him. He was 39.

(Republished from Nova Online - Speed Machines)

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Leslie Field, 2001