Loch Ness set for 350mph speedboat world record tests


A second monster could be heading to Loch Ness soon – in the form of a world-record bid speedboat.

Former children’s magazine writer Nigel Macknight has identified Loch Ness as “a possibility” as a site for tests of the 350mph boat.

It is hoped the Quicksilver speedboat will break the record of 317mph set 38 years ago by Australian Ken Warby.

The colossal three-and-a-half-tonne speedboat represents more than 25 years’ worth of work for the team and is by far the biggest boat ever to have attempted the feat.

An artist’s impression of Quicksilver, which could begin tests on Loch Ness as early as 2018

With a fatality rate in the region of 85% for attempts at the record since 1940, it is hoped the extra weight will add extra stability and provide a happy ending to Mr Macknight’s tale.

Mr Macknight, 60, He said: “I am confident we can break the record. When a record has stood for the best part of 40 years, it’s more likely to be beaten. Technology has moved on a lot in that time.

“You have to have respect for the danger, but I don’t think you go through what you are doing with too many nerves because getting the boat designed and built has been a huge job, consuming thousands of my life.”

Inspired as a youngster by the feats of the legendary Donald Campbell, the vessel represents the culmination of a dream for the Lincolnshire-based Macknight.

Helming the vessel Bluebird, Mr Campbell set the world record seven times in the 1950s and 1960s but an eighth effort in 1968 ended in disaster as the boat flipped, killing the driver.

Mr Warby set the world record in 1978 and is developing his own craft in an attempt to better his own mark.

Speedy portrait
Nigel Macknight is considering Loch Ness as a place to test the speedboat as testing is banned on Coniston Water

But the Quicksilver team believe they are nearing a stage where they will be ready to go for the record on Coniston Water in the Lake District in two years’ time.

And with a one-tonne, 10,000 bhp Rolls Royce engine, the team are hopeful that the vessel will have the stability needed to complete the feat safely.

Loch Ness holds significance to the former kart and Formula Ford racer Macknight as the venue for a bittersweet attempt in 1952.

British driver John Cobb attempted to set the then-record mark there in his craft Crusader reached a speed of more than 200mph but was also killed as his boat broke up later on.

Mr Macknight will lay out his plans at a special event at Eden Court Theatre on April 20 and is keen to meet those who remember the attempt from 60 years ago.

He said: “We are looking for people to come forward from the time of the Cobb disaster.

“It will be a big thing for people in the north of Scotland, particularly those living around Inverness and Loch Ness.”