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Who’s who in tethered hydroplanes


Ron Hankins

Ron is current holder of the record in A/B Class at 137.07mph, having beaten his existing record twice in the 2013 season and the outright hydroplane record at the start of the 2014 season. He also broke the longest standing of British records, the 15cc B Class, no less than four times during the 2013 season. Ron increased the record from the  115.91mph set in 1998 to 124.28mph.

How did you start in hydro's?
I first saw hydro's running at St. Albans and thought I would like to try this sport, but at the time I was well into Catamaran racing so Sundays were all taken up, many years later my sailing had come to an end and I was well into model engine building and visited the London Model Engineering Show at Wembley, I came across the hydro stand, this prompted me to to start hydro racing.

What made you choose the classes you are competing in?
Having made the decision to start racing,  I wanted to run in the 10cc class (the top class in my mind), my brother had a Picco P60 motor. I found it almost impossible to buy a 10cc motor, this was my only option.

What engines do you run and why?
OPS 60,67,Picco exp 10cc,CMB 67 and Picco 75. I think these are the best motors on the market at this time.

Hulls built to your own design, or based on someone else's plan?
My hulls are based on current designs.

Do you have an engineering background?
I have a motor fitting background, which took me to IFVME Fighting Vehicles, from there to the Road Research Laboratory, then to our family run wheelchair business. At this time I bought a second hand lathe, taught myself to use it and started model engine building. Having placed a V12 and 9 cylinder Bentley on the desk of the manager at Sussex & Berkshire he gave me a job in engineering, making food packaging machinery.

Which win or achievement has given you the most satisfaction?
My latest A/BL record.

Current ambition or project?
My current ambition is to reach 130 MPH. As for building my own racing engine, I only build four-stroke engines and much to my disappointment nobody runs in this class.

What do you consider to be the most crucial element in getting a boat to run quickly?
Engine and propellers. As to modification most modern racing engines are well tuned to start with, I do modifications to heads, carburettors, and timing.

Is there any boat from the past you would have liked to have seen?
I am not into the past, I want to run the next record breaking boat.

Breaking the A/B record in 2009 Ron with his son Mark OPS power in the 2011 record holder
V12 at Old Warden Some of the many and varied engines that Ron has built
The impressive looking and sounding 9 cylinder rotary engine

Many thanks to Ron for submitting to the OTW chair and for supplying the photos of his superb engines.