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The ‘Rose’ Legacy

The 'Record Holder'

Just 10 days after the death of his father, Mike Rose attended the Cotswold Club meeting with a view to running his late father’s 15cc boat. During the winter John had made further modifications and it was these and a box of props that faced Mike on this first outing. With help from Dave Whelan, Mike did get the boat going but did not record any official times. At the Southern Area Championships at Farnborough in July Mike managed 68 in the first round, but a second round speed of 95.68mph would give him his first of many wins with his late father’s boat. By Kingsbury in August, Mike had the boat back to its best with runs of 104 and 105mph to add the Midland Area Championship. Mike did not contest the ‘B’ Class at the International for that year, so for the first time for a long while, the miniature Speed Trophy and Collier Cup did not return to Bristol. While John DeMott won the class, no one completed the 1,000 yards to qualify for the Collier.

Mike loaned one of his father’s A3 boats, the OPS powered version, to fellow Cotswold members Dave and John Whelan, who took it over to Poitiers in France in September of that year for the International meeting. While the runs in the competition were most disappointing the final afternoon produced something of a highlight. The organisers had asked competitors to do some demonstration runs for the many visitors to the park and this time the speed was around 116mph.

Mike Rose started competing in his own right in 1988 and since 1997 has, along with his son Antony, competed regularly around the country, with their own boats, a selection of lovely vintage boats they have gathered together and of course John Rose’s remarkable stable, including the ‘B’ Class record holder in the later of the two hulls it was raced in. Having missed out on the International in 1987 Mike used the 15 to good effect the following year to win the Miniature Speed trophy for the first of many times in the following decade.

Right: Mike ready to launch the 'record holder' at Rowden lake

At Kingsbury in 1999 Mike's three runs with the boat at 103, 108, 103 mph showed just how reliable the motor was. At the International a stunning run of 111.18 was enough to secure the Speed Trophy for the second time, as well as the Collier, repeating the double that his late father had achieved on numerous occasions. This is the closest to date that Mike has come to the existing record with the boat.

Model Boats reported in 2001 that Mike had 'retrieved the 15cc record holder from the loft for the June meeting at Cerney'. The first run at 102mph was encouraging, but in the second run the motor nipped up, so it was back to the workshop for some remedial attention.
Left: Antony waits anxiously at St Albans with line time running out

With the engine rebuilt it was back to normal at Old Ford in July with two runs at over 100mph. Mike followed this up with speeds of 107 and 105mph back at Farnborough in September, reflecting the performance that he has managed to maintain for the rest of the decade with the remarkable engine. The Lambert Vintage Trophy resided in the Rose household for five consecutive years from 1998 to 2003 with three wins for Antony and two for Mike, while Mike has been a record holder on numerous occasions with his novice boat. Water conditions at the 2004 International at St Albans were far from good, yet Mike achieved the Speed Trophy/Collier double yet again. The year was to end on a sad note for the family though, with the sudden death of Marion Rose, just seven years after losing her husband.

The surviving boats are now the only tangible connection with the late John Rose. The ‘B’ Class boat still has the fastest 15cc homebuilt motor in the country, which is remarkable as it is now just on 30 years old. Considering the age and racing career of the boat, it would have been very tempting to put it into honourable retirement, but Mike took time out to restore it and its two stable mates. Seeing these boats run is a wonderful reminder of the skills and achievements of 'The West Country Wizard'.

Right: Karen and Mike combining a holiday and regatta at Althorne

10cc powered by a gold top OPS 60, best speed 122 mph 10cc powered by a Picco 60

When first built, the PICCO was the fastest boat of that year at just over 125mph. This is Mike's current A3 boat, but he is not sure when he will find the time to run it.

Whilst shortage of time has prevented him running the 10cc boats, the 15 gets a full season of racing each year and is not spared.  It keeps up the tradition of doing the Speed Trophy/Collier Cup double at the International with some regularity, as well as continuing to dominate ‘B’ Class events at other regattas around the country.

Left: Mike does the Collier/Miniature Speed double again in 2009
Right: Anthony won the Novice Class                                  

It is now fifteen years on from John Rose having set the ‘B’ Class record, making it the longest standing of all the tethered hydroplane records. The prospects of it being beaten in the near future also seem unlikely. While it would be perfectly possible to build a replica of John’s engine and put it in a modern hull, there seem no other contenders at present, unless Mike can wring a few more mph from the venerable motor? In a way, a lasting tribute to a very gifted engineer.

The Collections.

Photo's and annotation by courtesy of Mike Rose


Vintage 15cc

15cc Kiwi four stroke built by dad around 1948 to 1950. The hull was built in 1978 when dad returned back to the model hydro scene. This boat was capable of around 70 mph.


KIWI was built in 1947, the engine by George Kington and the boat by Jim Williams both members of the Bristol Model Engineers Society. This was their first attempt at hydros. I run this boat every year and runs at a steady 43 mph. The original engine was without a silencer so to comply with present regulations Jim fitted one.


30cc Vintage

The engine is 30cc built by George Noble but I am not sure of its age. The hull is a Orthon replica built by Jim Williams. I run this boat at St Albans on the Saturday or when the water is rough as it runs on any condition of water. Best speed achieved is around 55 mph.


'Mr Jones' as can be seen by the design was built by Doc English, originally for use by his young neighbour, John Doughty, and is powered by an ETA 29. Cindy, Docs wife, found this boat in the loft after Docs death and gave in to Antony as a play toy when he was young. Antony restored it and we have run it a several regattas, usually St Albans on the Saturday. The boat is named after Jimmy Jones who was the commodore or the Birkenhead club. We have been able to record a very respectful speed of 75 mph .

Vintage 10cc

10 cc Westbury Ensign design built around about 1955 by dad. Have never been able to get this engine to run but was told that it was capable of around 50 mph. Engine has now been replaced with a Merco 61 and is ready to run this year. Have never seen this boat run so should be interesting. When we know that the boat is OK then we may return to the original engine.


Irvine novice My first novice boat built in 1988 and powered by an Irvine 40. The propeller was a aluminium three blade prop as Propshop were not on the scene then. The boat was built with a straight shaft. This boat won the Southern Area Championship at a speed of 64 mph. This boat was also Antony’s first boat when he was eleven. We used to have to hold him as when his waders filled with air he used to have trouble not floating away.

Rossi novice My second novice boat was powered by a Rossi 40, which was the best engine at the time. We were now using Propshop props and the speeds were increasing. This boat held the record several times between 1992 and 1995 when the record changed hands several times between myself and Colin Everitt. Both of use running Rossi 40 engines. Best speed achieved by me was 96 mph. Never got to the magic 100 mph but I think Colin did. Both boats used a Stidwell flexi-shaft.

Antony’s novice First novice boat built by Antony with help from me. The engine is an ASP40 and runs well, best speed to date is 86 mph.

New boat for Antony for 2008 season engine is the ASP 40 that was in his previous boat, which has come to the end of its life. All my boat previously have been built using a box type construction this one is solid balsa. Have also gone back to a straight shaft to reduce weight. This boat is now one pound lighter that the boat that it has replaced so we will be able to see how much the weight of the boat affects the final speed. This boat has cost no more than £30 to build.

We are indebted to Mike and Karen Rose and Antony for all their help in producing this article and for all the original photographs and annotation.

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