The Fastest Boat
Attempts at beating [Ken] Warby's record have come at a high price. In 1980, the previous water speed record holder, Lee Taylor, tried to reclaim his title in a 2.5 million dollar rocket-boat called Discovery II. The missile-shaped craft was constructed of aluminum, titanium and stainless steel and was powered by a rocket engine that burned hydrogen peroxide fuel. On paper, the power plant generated 8,000 pounds of thrust -- or 16,000 horsepower. Taylor believed his boat would surpass 600 mph.
The trial took place November 13, 1980 on Nevada's Lake Tahoe. Discovery II roared through its first pass at 269.85 mph and was decelerating when it appeared to hit a swell. Witnesses reported that the boat veered to the left and suddenly disintegrated, vanishing under the surface of the lake in a matter of a few seconds.
(Republished from Nova Online - Speed Machines)
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© Leslie Field, 2005