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Hoveton man aiming to break water speed record - from his shed

PUBLISHED: 12:55 14 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:55 14 February 2016

Alan Sabberton with a model of the hydroplane. Picture: Maurice Gray

Alan Sabberton with a model of the hydroplane. Picture: Maurice Gray

Archant

Alan Sabberton is planning to beat the world’s water speed record – in a boat he is building in his dad’s shed.

Alan Sabberton in his workshop with a model of the hydroplane. Picture: Maurice GrayAlan Sabberton in his workshop with a model of the hydroplane. Picture: Maurice Gray

The 58-year-old has already built a 36ft family cruiser, 5.7 litre speed boat, V8 car and a riverside house for his father’s retirement.

The former Hoveton secondary modern school pupil, who left education at the age of 15, said he learned most of his skills from his dad and still enjoyed working with him.

Within a few weeks of leaving school he converted a Vauxhall car into a towing vehicle and adapted an old baker’s van engine to use diesel fuel in his father’s boatyard at Hoveton, on the Norfolk Broads.

From a very young age, Mr Sabberton gained skills in construction, building and mechanics. He built a rowing boat when he was 16 and learnt most of these skills from his dad’s boatyard and boat building business, at Sabena Marine.

He is now building a powerful “speed machine” to beat the world’s water speed record of 317 miles per hour and made a scale model for testing purposes, last year.

He then started on the full size, 34ft, three point, hydroplane design powered by two Rolls Royce Viper engines, with 4,000lb thrust from each, giving a total of 16,000hp, which he hopes will be completed next year in readiness for the biggest challenge of his life.

Mr Sabberton said, “It takes patience to create a machine made of steel, aluminium and carbon fibre to be strong enough to hold two extremely heavy and powerful engines. I’m in the third year of an estimated five year project but hope we’ll be ready to go within that time”.

Mr Sabberton will be making his attempt on the record on the same stretch of water, in the Lake District, where Donald Campbell met his death in a horrendous crash in 1967.

“Although I am managing to cope with the construction cost at the moment I am hoping to find some sponsors to help with the ultimate challenge, eventually,” he said.

He has had a lot of experience with racing Chevrolet V8 Speed Boats and regularly raced at Oulton Broad, but has stopped racing recently to enable him more time to continue the work needed on his record breaking attempt.

“For a man who does not use a computer or mobile phone and draws all his own designs on scraps of paper, he is quite remarkable”, said his father, who semi-retired at 80.

“My father and grandfather built and raced power boats and I have learnt a lot from them,” Mr Sabberton added.

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