Wroxham man’s speed record is on course after 30 years of Oulton Broad powerboat racing

It is the lake that will be forever be associated with the daring deeds – and the tragic death – of the world speed record-breaker Donald Campbell and his iconic boat Bluebird.

But now a Wroxham man who has raced powerboats for 30 years is planning to take to Coniston Water in Cumbria in a bid to etch his own mark in the history books.

Alan Sabberton, 55, is hoping to break the world water speed record by building a two-engine boat that can reach speeds of more than 317mph – potentially placing himself in danger on the same stretch of water in the Lake District where Mr Campbell met his death in a horrendous crash in 1967.

Until a few years Mr Sabbertson was a familiar sight around Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft as he raced catamarans and Chevrolet V8s speedboats. But after giving up racing, Mr Sabberton, who works and lives at Sabena Marine in Wroxham, decided he needed a new challenge, and so set himself the target of breaking the water speed record.

As part of his ambitious plan he has built a 6ft-long test model, capable of doing up about 85mph. He has already put it on public display at an event in Oulton Broad and hopes to assess its performance at a water-filled gravel pit at Earsham, near Bungay, where conditions are ideal for test runs.

If the six months of tests prove successful, Mr Sabberton then plans embark on the next phase of his ambitious project – building the full-scale version which will take five years to complete.

The sleek-looking craft would be an impressive 34ft long, with a steel frame and a fibreglass skin – and it would be powered by two Rolls Royce Viper jet engines, which are used by the RAF.

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Mr Sabberton estimates that, apart from the engines, his record bid should cost between �10,000 and �15,000.

When asked about the dangers of going for the water speed record on Coniston Water, he told The Journal: 'The boat is 34ft long, which is quite long – the longer a power boat is the more stable it is. I know there is quite a lot of responsibility for doing something like this – and I'm aware of what happened at Coniston Water.'

Mr Sabberton was the third generation of his family to race on Oulton Broad. His grandfather Fred and father Peter both raced mono-hulls, catamarans and powerful power boats.

Donald Campbell was 45 when he died trying to beat his previous record of 276mph in Bluebird. He held speed records in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1964 became only person to set a land and water speed record.

The current water speed world record is 317.5mph, set in 1978 by Australian Ken Warby.

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