Nearly There


Working up a new hydroplane takes time and one challenge is finding enough water time to get everything set up to optimum and for the driver to fully understand the new craft. A month after first launch of the new ’21’, and its trailer is now supporting the Team-21 colours and carrying the sponsors’ logos.


’21’ has now collected a selection of company logos but still looks like a new boat.


Not only have trailer and hydroplane acquired signage and colours, but the team members are now in their new team clothing.


A smart team and craft don’t make for a winner directly, but a smart team tends to make for a smart start which can be the difference between winning and losing. Team-21 always start the day with a race start even when ’21’ is just heading rom the launching point round to the club pontoons

Craig Speller wins stage 2 of the British Nationals OSY400


’21’ launched for a practice session on Sunday morning

Along with most of the UK, Oulton Broad suffered some terrible weather – cold, wet, windy. Obviously the weather controller hadnt read the latest horror stories from the Church of Global Warming and delivered a traditional British Bank Holiday Weekend.


The crowd line is normally packed at Oulton Broad but the weather detered some and anyone selling waterproof clothing should have made a fortune.

The crowd line thinned down as the day progressed, the stalwarts taking cover under golf and fishing umbrellas. The race programme also suffered, running late and leading to some races being dropped.

Craig Speller convincingly won all three heats for the second stage of the OSY400 British National Championship.

British Nationals OSY 400 and F4 Hydroplane Championships Stage 2


OSY 400 Racing Hydroplane ’21’ – Craig Speller


F4 Hydroplane

Stage 2 of the British Nationals for OSY 400 and F4 hydroplanes takes place at Oulton Broad, Suffolk, UK on Sunday May 27 and May 28.

A packed event starts at 12:00 hrs each day, hosted by Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Motor Boats Club

Craig Speller will be racing ’21’ and this is his first British Nationals OSY 400 of the year. Injuries when testing ’21’ meant he missed the first stage so he will have to work hard to make up the points.

No Risk – No Gain!

No one said hydroplane racing was risk-free. A small craft travelling at over 70 mph, the driver’s face only inches above the water flashing past, a tight turn onto the return straight, disturbed water from hydroplanes ahead, drivers bunching in the turn, high levels of competition, and anything can happen!!! That’s why its such an exciting sport to participate in and to watch.

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Craig Speller approaches the turn in ’21’ going full throttle, the propeller in the water but little else.

03-05-07 002

’21’ takes off and corkscrews. G force holds Craig in the cockpit and he only comes out as the hydroplane hits the water, striking his leg as it rolls.

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’21’ shows off a beautifully varnished underside and is floating.


After the crash Craig took cover on the upturned ’21’ as the other competitors streaked past. The last n the field can just be seen passing out of view to the left, allowing the rescue boats to reach Craig.


The crew of Rescue 3 have moved a rigid stretcher under Craig and are bringing him aboard for the trip back to the clubhouse where he will be checked over by the medical team on standby at the St John’s Ambulance vehicle. The stretcher is a standard precaution in case a crashed driver has suffered back or neck injuries. ’21’ is still afloat but only just, her nose and sponson tips just clear of the water to the left of Rescue 3.


As Rescue 3 holds a line, the diver from Rescue 5 is already in the water preparing to recover ’21’. LOBMBC operate five rescue boats with trained crews and divers to cover all eventualities.


’21’ has been righted and as teh Rescue boat tows her back to the clubhouse, a diver is busy bailing water out.


While Craig is being checked for injuries, luckily only severe bruising, Team-21 clean the motor of a virtually undamaged ’21’. The hydroplane demonstrated its great strength in coming to a stop from 70 mph almost instantly with only a damaged plastic numberplate and a crack in the polycarbonate wind shield.

Preparation to race


This F4 Class hydroplane is towed on a typical open boat trailer but the tow vehicle provides some of the comforts of home for its crew.

The OSY 400 class are very easy to trail. Everyone has a different idea of how to do it. The most popular trailer is an open boat trailer which can be run down a slipway to launch the hydroplane.

Of course that means that the tow vehicle has to carry the spares and tools and the hydroplane is exposed to whatever conditions are met on the road to the next competition


’91’ has a neat arrangement. The road trailer serves as a cargo box and support for a launching dolley in which the hydroplane sits, but it still exposes the craft to all the dirt and debris when being towed to the race circuit.


’21’ has a fully enclosed trailer. This calls for a little manpower, sliding her out of the trailer, but she is protected from road debris and curious fingers. This was the first time the new trailer was used, with trailer and boat still being largely unstickered.

Team-21 have chosen to use a fully enclosed trailer and to demount some of the equipment for transit. This adds some time to ‘pits’ preparation before launching, but it reduces risks in transit.


Without fuel and engine, ’21’ is light enough to be handled comfortably by two people. This view shows just how tightly OSY 400 hydroplanes fit their drivers.


’21’ is now out of the trailer and positioned ready for the outboard motor to be fitted onto the drive leg. The drive leg has been left mounted in transit with the stearing cables attached and tensioned. The step cut-outs seen in the cockpit floor provide a choice of toe hold positions for Craig.


The motor has been removed from its transit box and is about to be placed onto the drive leg.


In position, the motor is then bolted down ready for testing.


The motor fires first time. The top-puller needs two people to hold the hydroplane steady as the engine is test fired and run up.


An OSY 400 driver of the future? The Juniors race in deep V monohulls and launching from the dolly with driver aboard is a preferred method.


With ’21’ ready for launching and the race, the extra weight requires three people to carefully carry her to the pontoon.


With ’21’ in the water, Craig has stepped aboard and is settling into the prone position.


With the engine fully tested, it starts very easily and the hydroplane is immediately underway.

Craig Speller’s Wins


Every driver needs a good team behind. ’21’ is about to launch for the first time.


5th World Championships (Hungary). ONLY COMPLETED TWO HEATS
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship


1st World Championships (Germany)
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship


1st World Championships (Estonia)
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship


1st World Championships (Slovakia)
5th European Championships (Italy)
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship
Won the ‘B.J. Noone’ Outstanding achievement award.


2nd World Championships (Germany)
1st European Championships (UK)
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship
1st Stewartby Club Championships


1st World Championships (Slovakia)
1st European Championships (Germany)
1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship
1st Stewartby Club Championships
Won the ‘B.J. Noone’ Outstanding achievement award.


1st British National Championships


1st British National Championships
1st British Sprint Championship

’21’ Craig Speller’s OSY400 Hydroplane


’21’ taking shape. The aerofoil shape of the hull is clearly visible before the plywood skin is applied. The craft is built to fit the driver and the combined weight of driver and craft has to meet a minimum figure for World Championships.

During his career in hydroplane racing, Craig has used a number of hydroplanes. ’21’ has been built by Newsons Boatbuilders specifically for the 2007 OSY400 World Hydroplane Championship.


’21’ arriving at Oulton Broad for its first trial on water. This was a short trip from Newsons Boatbuilders, using a temporary trailer.

Once the construction was complete, ’21’ had to be trialled and the first launching was at Oulton Broad on April 26, the second evening meeting of 2007 for the LOBMBC at Oulton Broad. Hydroplanes have changed little over the years and trace their ancestory back to the early aviation industry, before 1907, when the first craft were built to test the hydrodynamic performance of the early seaplane designs. ’21’ is a major advance that is unique and includes the use of nanotechnology.


Setting the engine up is a very important task. A new craft will have some unforeseen characteristics and trials show how the engine position must be fined tuned. Once the position has been fixed, the engine itself is adjusted for maximum safe power output. Although a driver can lose a race, engineering can allow him or her to win.

During the weeks leading up to the 2007 OSY400 World Hydroplane Championship, Team-21 will have to work very hard setting the craft up. For the first launching, the main attention was to the engine. The challenge is that time is limited. Every opportunity has to be taken to ensure that the behaviour of the craft is fully understood, any necessary modifications are made and re-tested, and both craft and engine are fully tuned for the World Championship.


A racing start for the first trip of ’21’, close to the conditions for a Championship start.

During this frantic period of testing, Craig will mostly be racing under club rules which allow the mixing of Koenig 500 and OSY400 craft together and employ a handicap system with the most experienced drivers starting from the back of the field. That means that Craig will have to fight his way up through the disturbed water from less experienced drivers. For the World Championship, only OSY400 craft will race each other and the start includes engine start to the command of a traffic light system with the fastest away attempting to hold pole position in the clear water ahead of the following competitors.

Finding Oulton Broad


The Broadly Boats Ports Guide Series of free PDF downloads is in preparation. Copies of the Port of Lowestoft Guide can be requested by email from prior to the Series being added to the on-line downloads section

Oulton Broad lies just to the West of (inland from) the Port of Lowestoft. Those visiting Oulton Broad from the sea by boat will go to the Port of Lowestoft which is the most Easterly point in the British Isles on the East Anglian North Sea Coast.

Lowestoft has been a major fishing port and home to a ship and boat building industry. Today it serves as a general cargo port and still hosts a fish market. Those with larger vessels may wish to moor in the yacht harbour, or arrange to moor in the Port. There are also marina facilities in the Inner Harbour/Lake Lothing

Access to Oulton Broad from the sea requires passage through the bascule bridge, the railway bridge and Mutford Lock. Air draft is not an issue, but Oulton Broad is shallow, as a result of the neglect by the Broads Authority, which has failed to dredge to maintain depth. Oulton Broad does have its own yacht harbour for vessels that meet draft requirements.


The Broads National Park Guide is an overview with more detailed guides for each of the main rivers. The main guide can be downloaded free from:

Oulton Broads lies to the West of Lowestoft and SSW of Great Yarmouth alongside the A12 trunk road that runs from London to Great Yarmouth. The London, to Ipswich, to Lowestoft railroad runs through Oulton Broad and the station for the Broad is Oulton Broad South. The Birmingham, Norwich, Lowestoft railroad halts at the main Lowestoft station and bus, taxi and water taxi services run from this station to Oulton Broad. In addition to the A12 trunk road, Oulton Broad can be reached by road from Norwich and the A140 via Beccles.


The Waveney River Guide can be downloaded free from:

Oulton Broad can be reached by water from the rest of the Broads National Park. The best air draft for those coming from the River Yare and Northern Rivers is at Haddiscoe New Cut. The bridge to Haddiscoe Island over the River Waveney offers little air draft at high water.


Hydroplane racing takes place every Thursday evening through the Summer months. Nicholas Everitt Park is usually open to public access free of charge. It is served by two Pay and Display car parks. For a limited number of events each year, the Park is closed to free access. The entrance fee is split between the organization staging the event and the local authority. There are public toilets and a number of businesses in and around the Park sell refreshments, chandlery and other products.

Finding the Limits


The nose of ’21’ just above the water as Craig is lifted aboard one of the LOBMBC Rescue boats. Standard safety drill requires a recovered driver to be placed on a rigid stretcher in case of back and neck injuries for the trip to the St John’s Ambulance vehicle on standby at the clubhouse.

This is a brief breaking news item. We are busy preparing the material to be posted in chronological order, telling the story of Craig Speller, but where a key item of current news breaks before we have taken the story up to that date, we will post a brief note. When we reach the date of the event in the story, we will post a more complete account and more photographs.

This incident occurred during the third evening race of 2007 for the LOBMBC on Oulton Broad, Suffolk, UK. There was heavy overcast with poor light, a brisk NE wind straight off the North Sea, and a sheltered temperature of only 8 C – not the conditions to take a swim.

Craig Speller was searching out the limits of his new hydroplane ’21’ yesterday evening.

In the process, he ran through two troughs created by the two hydroplanes he was overtaking, ’21’ flipped over, throwing Craig out.

Apart from severe bruising and a cracked windshield there was no damage to driver or hydroplane.