Spirit2 in action

Ocean Talks: Fastest Team on Water

Discover the history of The Spirit of Australia and how the team are planning to beat the record in a few months’ time in Spirit2. 

Thursday 6 June 2019
6 – 8.00pm 

On the 8th October 1978 Australian motorboat racer Ken Warby became the fastest man on water travelling at 511.10 kmh in The Spirit of Australia – a boat he built in a Sydney backyard. 41 years later the Warby motorsport team are back together in an attempt to go even faster. Warby’s son David is set to put his own jet boat Spirit2 to the test – a second generation jet-powered hydroplane. The attempt will take place mid to late 2019 on Blowering Dam – the same stretch of water Ken broke both world records. David’s aim is to not only beat his father’s record, but to extend it to 550 kmh.

Ken, David, crew chief Philip Frawley, engineer Rob Blackadder and sponsorship manager Gordon Eckel share the challenges of getting such a huge project off the ground.

Discover the history of The Spirit of Australia and how the team are planning to beat the record in a few months’ time in Spirit2

"Rob, we’re getting the band back together!"

- Ken Warby
Ken Warby, Spirit of Australia. ANMM Collection ANMS1163[287]
Ken Warby, Spirit of Australia. ANMM Collection ANMS1163[287]

Hosted by the maritime museum’s David Payne, curator of the Australian Register of Historic Vessels, environment and communities. 

Note: Ticket includes light refreshments and the opportunity from 5 – 6pm to see Spirit of Australia just outside the museum’s theatre. 

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Dave Warby

Ken’s son David Warby, has been exposed to world record-breaking his whole life. Jet engines, fast boats & cars, being around workshops & race meetings is in his blood. As a young child Dave watched his father build Spirit of Australia in the family backyard.

Dave is an experienced boat builder, has built hydroplanes from scratch and is a registered APBA & UIM reinforced Safety Cockpit manufacturer. Dave’s now realising his childhood dream, with a jet-powered unlimited hydroplane under construction in his own workshop, with the fastest man on water by his side, his father, Ken Warby.

Ken and Dave Warby

Ken Warby had a dream as a young child to become the fastest man on water. A feat he achieved in 1977 then repeated in 1978, setting the current outright unlimited world water speed record of 317.6mph in his boat SPIRIT of AUSTRALIA.

Ken’s achievements include: first person to design, build and drive a boat to an unlimited water speed record; first person to break the 300 MPH & 500KMH speed barriers; first Australian to hold an unlimited speed record; and first Australian to break the unlimited water speed record.

Phil Frawley

Squadron Leader Phillip Frawley is the oldest and most experienced fighter instructor in the history of the Royal Australian Air Force, and now the world, having been inducted into the Guinness World Records as “the oldest active fighter pilot”.

Phil enlisted in the RAAF as an apprentice scientific instrument maker in 1969 and graduated in 1971 with an electronics diploma. In 1973 he was selected for pilot training and graduated in 1974. He finished his career of 28 years with the RAAF as the commanding officer of 76 Squadron.

Rob Blackadder

Rob Blackadder’s role on the team is primarily responsible for the operational serviceability of the pair of Bristol Siddeley Orpheus Mark 803 Gas Turbine Engines which were sourced from the UK and shipped to Australia in 2014. In 1978, Rob was one of the original Royal Australian Air Force apprentices who installed and maintained Ken Warby’s record-breaking attempt at Blowering Dam.

Rob’s involvement in the current project started when he received an “out of the blue” phone call from Ken Warby. As only Ken could, he used that great ‘Blues Brothers’ line… “Rob, we’re getting the band back together!”

Gordon Eckel

Gordon Eckel runs a Sydney based advertising agency, and manages the sponsorship, marketing and media for the Warby Motorsport team.

When not working on the SPIRIT2 project, you will usually find Gordon developing small properties or building his house on his farm with his wife and kids on the NSW Colo River.

David Payne

David Payne is the Curator, Historic Vessels at the Australian National Maritime Museum. He has managed the Australian Register of Historic Vessels since the project began in late 2004. David has been a yacht and small craft designer, and is well known for his work documenting historic craft with technical drawings.

He has recorded and helped restore a number of heritage craft through the museum and for private owners. He has also taken a lead role with the museum’s use and promotion of Vessel Management Plans to assist in the interpretation, conservation and use of historic craft. David has also documented many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Indigenous watercraft, and the outriggers unique to the Papua New Guinea Massim culture.