By the start of 1962 such was the impact of the first Daily Express Powerboat Race on entrants and boat builders alike that the forecast entry list had doubled to twice the original race’s figure. The eventual number that started that ‘62 race was 41, and not only had the quality of entrants improved tenfold but there were some highly exotic craft built especially for the event.
We all remember Tramontana with her mighty CRM powerhouse and Agnelli’s Ultima Dea enveloping 3 Maserati’s in her Levi hull but high on list of horsepower was one Jackie S with owner Emil Savundra eager to make his mark in offshore racing.
At 39ft oa Jackie S named after Savundra’s daughter, was designed by Naval Architect Cyril Hughes and built by the Jaqueline Group a Savundra company offshoot. She was designed with input from Savundra and was powered by 3 American Chrysler engines rated at 300hp per unit….in her first incarnation Jackie had a flush deck with a central steering position and with various hatches aft, a tripod mast and less than streamlined windshield, she was not a pretty boat!
The 62 race was a sharp learning curve for the Doctor…. he did finish but petrol tanks had broken away and the hull was awash with fuel with barely an eggcup full in the remaining tanks the helm seat had collapsed plus he was disqualified for missing the Branksome mark!
The Jackie S that returned to Cowes in 1963 bore no resemblance to the previous year in more ways than one! Gone were the triple Chryslers to be replaced by four marinised Jaguar engines totalling 1000hp (on a par with Tramontana 2), the rather shambolic flush deck now sported a very handsome streamlined turtledeck cabin and wheelhouse pushing the helm right aft. The helm was crammed full of throttles and gauge’s to control the beasts below and she still carried her race no10…but all was not well as the race was to prove.
Jacky S certainly had the pace on race day and set off in the leading pack at around 43 knots earlier though there had been a slight worry, the boat had developed a slight list to starboard and even the smallest wave disturbed her momentum causing her to veer off course which neither the throttles or 3 rudders seemed able to control.
The first hint of trouble happened on approach to Yarmouth when one of the starboard engines was overcharging, the engineer went into the engine bay to disconnect the dynamo and yanked off the HT lead instead, Jacky stopped dead in the water for 4 mins. Once sorted she was off again at maximum revs but still with the steering causing the diminutive but stocky Savundra a lot of arm wrestling to keep her in order. As they approached to round the Needles with the Hurst tidal race in full flow she suddenly dug in and headed straight for the lighthouse at 40knots, hitting the concrete base at 5knots after the quick thinking engineer cut all engines. She slipped back into the water and after a quick check for damage was off again to complete the island circuit but as they hit the St Catherines tidal race she was off again hurling tons of sea water over her bows.
As they emerged from the second dousing the crew found themselves abreast of Don Shead’s Trident when it happened again the chine dug in and she slewed in a torrent of water. They emerged to find Trident coming towards them but quick thinking Shead had cut throttles although Trident still reared over Jackie’s deck ripping out stanchions and buckling part of the wheelhouse
With a shake of his fist Shead was off and so was Jackie back towards Cowes although the engineer was now throttling back at any indication of steering vagaries….passing Cowes and in 8th place they were rapidly approaching Yarmouth again through a fleet of spectator craft, the water was getting lumpy, a sou’wester was building and they soon were bow on at speed to the converted lifeboat Skipjack when the inevitable happened and Jackie was headed straight for her.
Skipjack was struck at 20knots and within minutes had broken up and sunk…..its crew were safely rescued transferred to a launch but Jackie S had been holed in the stern…the race was over and she headed for Poole. It has long been muted that her problems resulted from 1000hp being transferred to four props all rotating in the same direction…a lesson to be learned!
The new Jackie S could not have been more different to her predecessor, designed by Fred Cross the Yachtsman and Aircraft Aerodynamicist around a R &W Clark Moorland hull with lines based on Flying Boat float principles. At 35ft oa Her turtle deck and tumblehome stern followed no know powerboat trend, the Doctor was again making a statement and powered by 800 HP of the latest Ford Interceptors she would prove to be a capable craft unlike her predecessor.
She appeared on the race scene in 1964, won the Wills Trophy and the Poole Bay International at a speed of 45knots. Winning the CT could be in the grasp of the Doctor but 64 was the year of the flat calm, she had been designed for less moderate conditions but proved herself to be a contender against the latest from America and Italy.
She came 5th in the 64 race and may have finished higher had she not stopped at the Nab Tower with an overheating thrust race. 17 mins later with a jury rigged hose pumping seawater on to the offender solving the issue she was off again but now down to 10th and had to started clawing her way back up the order.
For 1965 Savundra had decided to go for more power but instead of buying ready made built his own engines! Actually he asked Harry Westlake the renowned engine wizard to convert large diesel engines to petrol with a view to challenging the Americans….the Sea Unicorns as they were known produced 600hp but insufficient development time resulted in an unreliable machine that ate spark plugs at an alarming rate! She failed to finish the first 2 miles of the 65 race and this was just the start of Savundra’s problems…he had been spending vast sums of money on this and other projects ..not his!….to the detriment of his business. The resultant collapse of FM Insurance in 1966 was the biggest fraud to that date and Doctor Emil Savundra was finished. In his desire to win the Cowes Torquay he had taken on the mantle of producing some fiery craft but it all came to nought.
The following update shows how important it is to have 90% of the facts when compiling history, the other 10% will fall into its rightful place.When the Savundra era closed nobody thought that 48 years later the recollection of who, what, when and where would be so much easier to formulate into an historical article if it was recorded and saved for prosperity. If it wasn’t for Graham Stevens and his unique archive we would be up the creek without a paddle and to top it all the grey cells take longer to work, mix up names and forget important items. It also makes the resultant article that much more interesting and pulls together all relevant details.
Graham by the way is owed a great debt of gratitude from followers of the sport as a whole, his vast collection is only part way through being archived it is a time consuming job with very little thanks given. But it is gratifying to know that my nudging for information has stimulated recollections, produced long forgotten articles and pictures for which we are all most grateful.
Jackie S and other Craft……updated.
In the chaos that followed FMA’s collapse Savundra fled to Ceylon, Jackie S was seized by Customs and Excise, whilst at Vosper’s a new boat was on the stocks…FLYING JACKIE and at Watercraft in Shoreham was the John Teale designed SPEEDY JACKIE. Both it is believed were to have been powered by the Sea Unicorns, they were 7litre AEC diesels converted to petrol by Harry Westlake and producing in the region of 600hp, Savundra’s attempt to beat the high powered American engines of the day..
Jackie S was purchased from the receivers, re-engined with the Ford’s and raced by John Robertson until 69…
Flying Jackie was being built in Aluminium by Vospers with construction drawings by John Mace and a stress engineer from Mitusbishi helping with calculations, work carried on towards completion but it is believed she was then re engineered to take the latest Daytona engines supplied by the British agent Don Shead.
Vospers entered her for the 1966 Cowes Torquay with Mike Trimming driving…and of course a change of name to Flying Fish, she sank in Lyme Bay after a battle with Ghost Rider in the rough conditions that ensued. It was believed that she had split her hull although one of the first divers to inspect her subsequently found that her hull was undamaged! (Motor Boat and Yachting report) Attempts were made to recover her but she had drifted further out than realised and subsequently sank. Grahams observations from all the works he carried out on stress re P brackets lead him to the stern mount being subjected to more stress than is usual with standard P bracket…was it this that failed?
Speedy Jackie was of an unusual build being a glassfibre and balsa sandwich laminate which resulted in an extremely strong lightweight hull and was already fitted with 2 of the Sea Unicorns. Savundra’s company Fire Marine crashed prior to her launch and testing and the builders were left “holding the baby” ! She was displayed in January 1967 at the London Boat Show then found her way to Cobbs Quay where she sat forlornly on dockside looking for an owner. She was finally purchased in 1975 by Philip Lynes of Bournemouth who stripped out the old engines and intended to fit twin Sabre diesels. 10 years after her launch he was going to prepare her to race in the OP class but alas no record can be found of this.
So of the 4 Savundra boats built to try and win the CT we know where one is Lyme Bay, the fasted boat in her day and if whatever happened on that race day had not maybe she would have won but without the Doctor!
Speedy Jackie last heard of in Poole 1978…who was Mr Philip Lynes? Is he still with us does he know what happened to Speedy?
The R &W Clark Jackie S last known owner John Robertson, what happened to her after 1969.? Last seen at POUNDS SCRAPYARD PORTSMOUTH prior to and during building of M275 Disappeared when site cleared.
And the original Jackie..last heard of heading back to Poole in 1963….
One question…why did the 2 new boats carry nos 275 & 276 instead of Savundra’s 110…was he allocated new numbers for his team entry? especially as 111 was allocated to Surfury and Jimani was 109…had his lucky no run out of luck?
Pictures and information courtesy of Graham Stevens.