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Kingsbury Water Park

 June Regatta

Water Level 2011

Two things became very apparent as the model boat lake was approached, first the huge amount of work by the rangers since last year in cutting back and removing trees and undergrowth from around the area and the second, the exceptionally high level of the water. The removal of trees opened up the area where the cables are strung, hopefully making that much less muddy and unpleasant, whilst over the far side of the lake, the public can now see what is going on from the road. Might cut down on the midge problem as well. Althorne was suffering from low water and here it was the extreme depth that made starting and launching very difficult, especially if the waders were not chest high.

Roger James & Tony Collins 2010 Oliver Monk & Martin Hamilton 2010 The 'Ladies' 2010

The A1s were a bit hit and miss with Tony Collins getting his Soliev singing sweetly to complete three consistent runs, two within 1mph of his personal best. Pete Dirs’ Soloviev was not so cooperative, completing only one slow run. The Profi motors in the airscrews are still proving very difficult to set, so again, only one slow run here. How long before someone shows just what these motors can do?

Just two runs on the A2 line, Norman Lara having dug his Nelson out was a shade under 100mph and Antony Rose at a fraction under 80 with his Sport 40. Things were a bit livelier on the A3 line with Tony Collins and Ron Hankins matching each other in the first round at 121mph, although that was the end of Tony’s involvement for the day. Ron was running two AB/R boats and had the distinction of achieving three runs with each, the best at 129mph, the fastest speed of the day.

Stu Robinson & John Hyder 2010 John DeMott & Arthur Wall 2010 Very wet Tony 2011

Kingsbury is now the only place we see the flash steamers running, but with Paul Windross’ health problems, it is down to Bob Kirtley to keep the burners going, yet he has not been having a great deal of luck lately with just one run at 103mph. Bob used to be so consistent but has experienced a string of breakages and problems that have dogged him over the last season.

Thanks to Arthur Wall for timekeeping and passing on the results.


A1 Class Tony Collins 104.7mph Pete Dirs 79.62mph B1 Class Dave Singleton 59.56mph
Sport 40 Norman Lara 98.57mph Antony Rose 79.07mph
A3 Class Tony Collins 121.55mph Mike Rose 55.67mph
AB/R Ron Hankins 129.45mph A/S Class Bob Kirtley 103.46mph

July Meeting. Combined Midland and Northern Area Championships.

Having been appraised of the high water levels at the last meeting, it was with some trepidation that we set off for Kingsbury, quite resigned to the thought of not running, especially with the amount of rain that was supposed to have fallen. In the event, there had been no rain, the water was back to 2016 levels and John DeMott’s skilfully crafted Lignum Vitae sabots proved unnecessary, but they did look good, if a trifle unwieldy.

The principle trophies for this event were the Ayrshire Cup for the fastest waterscrew boat, presented by Andrew Rankine, a  competitor who used to travel from Scotland regularly and the Bob Hymer memorial for the fastest airscrew.

It is an indication of the fickle nature of these 2.5cc motors, and compounded by the non-appearance of the London contingent, that not a single run was completed. Dave Singleton’s new Profi motor sounded spot on when started, but then died and resisted all further exhortations to run.

Left: Ayrshire Cup                                Right: Bob Hymer Memorial trophy

In a way, this set the tone for the first round. Ron Hankins’ A2 died on the launch as did Rick Benson’s. Mike Rose’s Sport 40 suffered from a duff plug and refused to start and so it went on. Ron Hankins had a quite bizarre failure with his AB/R when the prop shaft whipped enough for the coupling to actually come out. Such was the damage that the boat was retired for the day. The ‘Fast Lady’s’ OPS boat was receiving attention from Dr Ron after Althorne, so her original ex Jeff Llwellen boat was dug out and serviced ready for the fray. The water level caught her out on the launch so still no runs, time for the ‘secret weapon’. The Ex Roger James’ boats are now very long in the tooth and a testament to the power of super glue, yet they are ultra reliable, so fed up with the Picco continually mucking about, Hugh Blowers gave the venerable ‘banana split’ its annual outing, and it did not disappoint.119mph straight off, and the only run on the sheet so far, and that was the way it stayed until the A class started. There was however a significant delay, as the safety thimble on the clip went plop into the lake requiring a new attachment to be fabricated on the spot, so thanks to John and Dave for manufacturing a substitute.

Ron Hankins with Picco A2 Rick Benson OPS A2 John DeMott's 'sabots'

Lionel Lawley’s 30cc motor sounded the best we have heard it for ages, yet as soon as it looked as if it was on for a good run the plugs gave up the struggle, and this happened three times. Joan Benson’s 30 had one of its best runs for ages, so now there were two scores on the sheet and that was the way it stayed as Bob Kirtley managed to launch his steamer straight to the bottom of the lake. Not a great success so far except for a very happy HB having his first decent run of the season.

Round two was considerably more successful with Ron Hankins getting his A2 away cleanly and Mike Rose having his Rossi Sport 40 nicely on song. Lynn Blowers launched her A3 perfectly for a run some 40mph faster than the boat used to do before its numerous rebuilds. Neither Dave Singleton or Dave Scarnell were having any joy with their A3s or Mike Rose with his almost vintage example. The ‘banana split’ repeated its performance within 1mph, but with deference to its age, was put way for another year.

Lionel Lawley's A Class clipping on Bob starts Dave's B1 Profi John pondering his 30cc boat

Only John DeMott managed a run in the larger class and even then his engine was misfiring a lot until it was well into its run when it cleaned up nicely, but by then it was too late. Rick Bensons’ boat blew its exhaust off at the start, but carried on, very noisily for its longest run for years, telling him something about the effectiveness, or otherwise of the tuned pipe and silencer. It is a while since we have seen a really fast run from an A class boat and again Bob Kirtley had problems with the motor dying before a lap had been completed.

Round three was reduced significantly by the number of people still able or wanting to run, with Ron Hankins’ A2 recording its best speed of the day. The only other significant run of the round was Bob Kirtley who at last got his boat away and accelerating nicely until a change in the engine note indicated a problem although the boat did complete the laps, and more. When Bob retrieved it, the reason was obvious, one blade missing from the prop, more bad luck and work. No wonder Bob spends the rest of his time with those lovely North Eastern straight runners, the boats that is.

Mike Rose and Ron Hankins Mike's Rossi Sport 40 Soggy OPS pipe

A very pleasant day all round, much warmer than forecast and not so many biting things around, and happily, our route home seemed to be the only major road not blocked. Thanks to John DeMott, Dave Singleton and Arthur Wall for all their work and Arthur for looking after the timing all day.

Each Class winner receives a Championship certificate, while the Ayrshire Cup goes to Hugh Blowers, (beating the ‘other half’ for a change).

A/S Class Bob Kirtley 101.61mph  A Class John DeMott 114.18mph Joan Benson 74.55mph
A3 Class
Hugh Blowers 119.02mph Lynn Blowers 111.56mph A2 Class Ron Hankins 112.94mph
Sport 40 Mike Rose 81.18mph

August meeting, or living with the idiosyncrasies of a Picco

When they go, they can be exceedingly quick, but it’s making them go that presents the real difficulty as the paucity of A3 runs at the World Championships in Bulgaria illustrates, but more of that anon. Yet again attendance was down, which was a pity as the torrential rain of the previous day had moved away leaving excellent conditions for a good day’s running.

Early arrivals all round meant that everything was underway very promptly with the sole B1 and Dave Singleton with his Profi that had refused to play the month before. Well this time it did, not yip free, but a decently quick run, except; the timing equipment chose to play silly Bs. Investigation showed that it was recording laps intermittently, so it was out with the stopwatches for the rest of the day. Thanks to Arthur, Sonia, JDM and Tony for button pressing from then on. We reckon Dave’s run should count, as that was the only one of the day.

Things did not go well either for Mike Rose and his Sport 40 boat as the sponson bars were found to have been broken in transit, so that left just Mark Hankins and his A2 running on this line. Mark was first to experience a boat that would start but not run properly, a fate that also befell Lynn Blowers with her A3 OPS. Mark was able to sort his on the line for the first of two very consistent runs within 0.5mph.

Rattling through quickly and it was on to the 10 and 15cc boats. After drawing a complete blank in Bulgaria, Tony Collins' Picco was still not behaving although it was going round, not a luxury shared by Hugh Blowers, whose similar motor is still refusing to drag the boat round the circle, no matter what has been tried. Ron Hankins had an AB/R and a B, which has had some modifications. The 15cc OPS gets away indecently quickly every launch and today was no exception with the first run coming in at 126mph. Lynn Blowers suffered un uncharacteristic failure, finally tracked down to a plug that glowed happily but was breaking down under power, easily solved but not before the run was lost. In all, something of a traditional Kingsbury first round with just two runs, or three if you count Dave’s, which we do.

Round two was broken down into those that did and those that did not. Tony Collins proved that there was nothing wrong with his boat, other than a dislike of Bulgarian water; running at over 130mph. Hugh Blowers knows that there is still something wrong with his after another of a long string of failures, but not what the problem is (other than it being a Picco). The ‘other half’ was back on course with 122mph, the first time the boat has run since the damage sustained at Althorne, kindly repaired by Ron Hankins. Ron could still not get his B to run but his A/BR was away again at 125mph. No joy elsewhere for the two Daves, Scarnell and Singleton, who have not been having any luck of late, or Mike Rose with his late father’s venerable Picco P60 powered A3. Despite long hours in the workshop, Lionel Lawley’s 30cc motor is still leading him a merry dance, another case of knowing something is wrong, but not what exactly.

So to round three, almost a repeat of the previous round, except those that went in round 2, went just as fast and those that didn’t still didn’t, apart from Mike Rose though. The Picco started, sounded good, went off happily and almost matched its best ever speed. As sod’s law would have it, it slowed down the instant he put his hand up and speeded back up after the five laps, but it was a run on the board, quite rare on the day. Ron did get a run with his B at just under 100mph while he had his fastest of the day with the AB/R at 130mph. Lynn Blowers increased her speed slightly, while Tony Collins was just a smidgen slower but still well into the 130s.

Thanks to all who helped out on the day, especially those back on the manual timing, but one has to ponder that the lack of support over the last two meetings must make people wonder why they bother? Thanks again to Sonia Collins, Arthur Wall, John DeMott and Dave Singleton for all their work during the day.


B1 Class Dave Singleton, a run, at what speed we know not. A2 Class Mark Hankins 112.98mph
A3 Class
Tony Collins 133.15mph Lynn Blowers 123.04mph Mike Rose 109.55mph
AB/R Ron Hankins  130.51mph B Class Ron Hankins 96.84mph

Kingsbury Delivers. Bank Holiday two-day Regatta

The traditional August Bank Holiday meeting that had taken place at St Albans for many years has not happened for three years, once from abandonment through bad weather and two late cancellations due to nasties in the water. Further work to eradicate the health hazards would have meant no meetings at this venue for the foreseeable future, but thanks to the Kingsbury Club, and in particular John DeMott and Arthur Wall, the event moved, lock stock and barrel up to Kingsbury over the Bank Holiday weekend. An added bonus was that the weather could not have been better for racing over the entire holiday period.

Those arriving early on Saturday morning also had the benefit of the Park Run by paying just a couple of quid to get in, rather than £4.50. Very quickly the pit area started to fill up indicating a busy day all round, although the mechanical maladies apparent at the last meeting not only continued but seemed to multiply. Amongst the tales of woe and odd occurrences though there were some sparkling performances, but the day started with a quite amazing run, that unfortunately for Dave Singleton could not be counted. Last time out, his Profi B1 completed a run but the timing gear failed, this time, it completed one of the fastest runs seen in this country, but at a constant three feet in the air for every lap. It climbed to cruising altitude where it remained until the fuel ran out and it came back down, perfect, but not legal.

Pete Dirs' Picco motor Tony Collins' Hungarian B1 Dave Sheldrake B1Sport

Jim Free had a good run with his B1 Sport, just under his record speed and one of the season’s rare runs with the B1. John Underwood was into the low hundreds and that was it for the airscrew boats, apart from Dave Sheldrake, whose Halman Special performed an amazing dance for the entire run, and survived, much to everyone’s amazement.

Pete Dirs is experimenting with a Picco motor on his B1 Sport, but that persisted in falling over and tearing off the wing each run.

The A2 Class was by far and away the closest, John Underwood being very consistent with runs at 118 and 117mph, a feat that he repeated exactly the following day. He was beaten by brother-in-law Norman Lara’s only run of the weekend at 119mph. Just three runs with Sport 40s, two by the Rose family and one from organiser on the day, Roger Lane.

Roger had a new Weston motor that proved a bit powerful for the elderly hull, almost beating his own personal best at 95mph, but at the expense of a prop that vanished after the run.

Of the A3s the less said the better as John Hyder with his Lazer four-stroke was leading with not a single other run being recorded. The second round was no better until Ray Cox beat his personal best by 9mph at 118, only to be roundly beaten by Tony Collins who knocked out yet another run in the mid 130s. Tony now has an amazing record for 130+mph runs with an A3. Ron Hankins had a most uncharacteristic day without a single run from either of his boats leaving Tony Collins the clear winner of the St Albans Speed Trophy.

It was called a day after two rounds, as time was getting on, and Norman Lara had very kindly arranged for a evening get together and carvery at the Longshoot and there was a definite need to freshen up after a very warm and humid day.

Thanks to Roger Lane and the St Albans Club for sponsoring the day and for Arthur Wall for looking after the entries and timing.

A1 Class Steve Poyser. A2 Class N Lara A3 Class Ray Cox
St Albans Speed Trophy Tony Collins 134.30mph
B1 Class Jim Free B1S Class Jim Free Sport 40 Class Roger Lane

The ‘International’, at last!

For the first time for three years, all the traditional trophies, except the Crebbin would be contested, head to head. A long while since there has not been a flash steamer present, but it is hoped that Paul and Bob will be back in action for the final meeting at Kingsbury.

Thanks to everyone’s cooperation, the meeting was underway very early, with the intention of having three rounds, although the number of entries would prove to make this very difficult.

As for Saturday, conditions were perfect for the first events, the French Trophy for A1s, the Wall Trophy for B1s and the Rushden for B1 Sport.

After setting a new British record, Pete Dirs was a cert for the 3.5cc class, but tethered hydroplanes have a habit of defying the form book so it was down to Steve Turley making a welcome return and Steve Poyser to fight it out. Steve Turley led after round one only for Steve Poyser to come back with a run at 102mph that secured the trophy.

The B1s were at their ‘yippy’ best with the fastest of the four runs down to Dave Sheldrake to take the Wall Trophy but 30mph slower than the ‘slower’ Sport class.Jim Free repeated his Saturday run to within 0.06mph to secure the Rushden Trophy with John Underwood second, 1mph faster than Saturday’s run.

Next up was the Victory Cup for A2s and the Don Trophy for Sport 40 Class with a new British record thrown in for good measure. Norman Lara’s OPS was not well after Saturday so Steve Poyser’s 121mph in the first round was the speed to beat. John Underwood did his best repeating his 118 and 117mph runs with Lynn Blowers just behind at 116, giving Steve his second trophy of the day.

After the first round of the Sport class, Angela Gullick was in the lead from Jim Free by 7mph, but it was round two that sealed the deal. A final speed of 106.77 with laps at 107 gave Angela the Don Trophy and a new British record by a very substantial margin.

A few more runs in A3 this time round but with Tony Collins repeating his Saturday run of 134 to within a couple of tenths, the ED Trophy was in his hands yet again. Steve Turley was back to his best in runner up spot at 124mph while Ray Cox could not quite match his Saturday speed, but had two runs at 114mph, notching up his best three runs ever in one weekend.

Personal circumstances meant no AB/Rs and one B missing, so it was down to John DeMott and Hugh Blowers with their 15cc boats for the Miniature Speed Trophy, and possibly the Collier, if the engines would last out ten laps? With the motor transplanted from the ‘Blue Barge’ and an extra large tank it was down to proxy runner Lynn Blowers, aided by Tony Collins and Pete Dirs to get the boat started and away, which they did perfectly to complete the first ten lap run from a B for four years.

Why a proxy runner, well the ‘other half’, along with Sonia Collins was running the meeting. John DeMott should have provided more than adequate competition, but three non-starts and a non-finish gifted the two B Class trophies to Hugh, courtesy of Lynn, Pete and Tony, thanks.

That just left the A Class, which rather fizzled out with just one completed run. John DeMott had his mighty ‘Passing Wind’ wound up well into the 120s prior to calling the run, at which point it promptly slowed to around the 100mph mark. Both the Benson’s boat suffered failures, but Rick’s final attempt was the most bizarre as the boat was well into its stride when it stopped, but with the engine still running at full pelt. Usually this spells a lost prop, broken coupling or shaft, but no, all these were still intact and attached, it was the actual crankshaft that had broken within the crankcase allowing the engine to continue to run. So it was that John DeMott retained the International and Doc English trophies for a second year.

As you will have seen, there is no mention of a third round. Despite the very best efforts of everyone, especially John DeMott and Dave Singleton changing lines, a third round was not going to be realistic, so it was on to a more leisurely presentation with a selection of wine and souvenir mugs for the winners and runners up. Our thanks must go to the Kingsbury Club, Arthur Wall, John DeMott and Dave Singleton for hosting the meeting and all their work during the weekend that made it such a great success. My personal thanks to Sonia Collins for looking after me all day on the timing and paperwork and to Lynn for running me boat.

A1 Class John French Trophy Steve Poyser 102.98mph 2nd Steve Turley 97.76mph
B1 Class Wall Trophy Dave Sheldrake 92.62mph 2nd Angela Gullick 68.72mph
B1S Class Rushden Trophy Jim Free 123.27mph 2nd John Underwood 106.06mph
A2 Class Victory Cup Steve Poyser 121.80mph 2nd John Underwood 118.41mph
A3 Class ED Cup Tony Collins 134.14mph 2nd Steve Turley 124.47mph
B Class Miniature Speed Trophy Hugh Blowers 86.07mph & Collier Trophy 86.20mph
A Class International Trophy & Doc English Trophy Joh DeMott 100.84mph
Sport 40 Class Don Cup Angela Gullick 106.77mph New Record 2nd Jim Free 93.39mph

September meeting. A chilly end to the season.

Dave Scarnell and Arthur Wall talk of days gone by when they had to break the ice at Naul’s Mill to go racing. It was not quite that bad, but a total contrast to the meeting just two weeks previously. The turnout was also seriously compromised, in part due to the weather forecast, that may well have deterred some, plus unfortunate injuries, continued poor health and family pressures, so it was a very select band that had assembled. We must start by thanking Dave Singleton who had undertaken to bring all the hardware for the meeting and Arthur Wall who did all the paperwork. Without them, it would have been a wasted journey all round, although many might consider that it was anyway, as the Kingsbury ‘jinx’ hit with a vengeance. The water and air temperature were very low, the humidity high and air pressure very low, all combining to make needle setting something of a lottery and completed runs a rarity.

With the relatively low numbers, the rounds were rattled through and with constant line changes, hardly time to service the boats before it was time to go again. Starting A1s requires a knack that was sadly missing, although Tony Collins did eventually persuade Steve Turley’s CMB into life in the first round for a sweet sounding run at 97mph, within 7/100ths of his fastest this season. The Rose family had two Sport 40s, with Anthony getting two runs in the mid 70s while Mike's usually reliable Rossi failed in each round. Dave Singleton managed two runs with his Profi B1, but in spite of a marathon needle twiddling session did not eradicate the yips, so near yet, not quite.

Of the A3s, probably the less said the better. The ex Roger James ‘Banana Split’ was dug out of its honourable retirement for a last swansong and performed faultlessly as it has done for far too many years now, earning its place in the ‘pantheon’ of tethered hydroplanes. On the third attempt, Steve Turley finally found a setting that saw his OPS come up nicely to top the list at 122mph. After his successes at the two-day meeting, Tony Collins drew a complete blank, his Picco back to its frustrating worst. Dave Scarnell did get his boat running well, but by the time it was up to speed the laps had run out and er, that was it, just two runs all day. Lionel Lawley did not fare much better as his mighty 30cc boat set of with a vengeance each round, only to run out of something each time, although it did just manage five laps in the first round at 70mph.

The rain that had been forecast never arrived and the very strong winds that were all too evident when we got back to the car park did not impinge on the lake, but it was cold, especially as every launch seemed to involve launcher and helper getting a liberal ‘baptism’. Something of a record for three rounds and by 2.30, everything was cleared up and the season at Kingsbury over for another year. Roads home were unusually quiet as well, so home in daylight, a most unusual occurrence for the September meeting.

Thanks to Dave Singleton, Arthur Wall and Sonia Collins for running it all and for those that made it there from all points north, east, south and west, if only the ‘b’ boats would go????? Surely by know everyone should know enough to be able to get a tethered hydroplane started and run out a tank of fuel at a reasonable speed?

A1 Class Steve Turley 97.69mph B1 Class Dave Singleton 76.82mph
A3 Class Steve Turley 122.57mph Hugh Blowers 119.18mph
Sport 40 Class Anthony Rose 75.55mph