Bluebird K3 runs again

Image: Lisa Beaney Photography

Sir Malcolm Campbell’s world record breaking boat, Bluebird K3, has once again run on Lake Maggiore, Switzerland 80 years after its last record breaking run.

Bluebird K3, owned and driven by Karl Foulkes-Halbard, was taken to Switzerland to take part in the “Luci e Ombre” festival in Locarno.

After years of restoration bringing the boat back into full working order and months of planning the crowds were once again able to see this historic boat run on water.

During its 10 runs over the 1km course the boat achieved a speed of 52mph in very choppy conditions. Karl Foulkes-Halbard said “We did a total of 10 runs, with increasing chop towards the end of the session. The boat ran very well, with all temperature readings as normal and made for an exhilarating ride, a unique experience for the pilot. It was all about achieving the vision and dream of my father, Paul, of running K3 on Lake Maggiore again and I am the second person in history to pilot the boat on this lake after Sir Malcolm Campbell.”

A team of 15 people from Sussex were involved in getting the boat on to the water and the Swiss authorities provided full safety cover including police, fire, first aid and divers to ensure smooth running and to maintain the exclusion zone on the lake.

The boat will be on static display until Sunday when it will return to its home at The Campbell Circuit, Polegate East Sussex.

Bluebird K3 will next be on view to the public at Henley Traditional Boat Show on the 20 -22 July where it is hoped to run her on the Thames.

It was a magical moment, the re-run on Friday evening when Malcolm Campbell’s legendary Bluebird, restored to its former glory, took to the water  once more on Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, revisiting the site of its historic world record triumph of 129.5 mph in 1937. The aim was to celebrate the 1937 speed record.

In 1937 Sir Malcolm Campbell commissioned a powerboat to be made to attempt to break the world water speed record which was currently held by America.

He used the same Rolls Royce type R supercharged racing aero engine that was fitted to his car when he achieved the land speed record two years earlier.   The boat was named Blue Bird  K3.

Blue bird after the car and K3 was the designation given by Lloyds underwriters .

He decided to use Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, as the venue for the attempt as surrounded by mountains the water was calm.

On 1 September 1937 he set a record of 126.32mph and the next day improved on this at 129.5mph.