Ken Warby

Ken Warby 2017-12-03T06:32:54+00:00

Ken Warby had a dream as a young child to become the fastest man on water. He built model boats as a young boy.  He built his first race boat at the age of 14 in his backyard.  Ken continued to build and race boats in Australia in the 1960’s & 70’s winning state and national championships.  While building faster and more powerful boats, Ken was working on a degree in Mechanical Engineering which enabled him  better understand what is needed technically to make a boat go faster.   Ken’s experience of racing boats and his engineering background allowed him to begin construction of the “Spirit of Australia” in the 1970’s.

Speed Records in Spirit of Australia:

· July 9, 1974 – 166.38 mph …..267.54 kmh at Lake Munmorah, NSW.

· March 14, 1976 –  193.17 mph …… 310.88 kmh at Blowering Dam, NSW.

· September 17, 1977 – 214.78 mph……..345.66 kmh at Blowering Dam, NSW.

· October 30, 1977 – 246.77 mph………397.15 kmh at Blowering Dam, NSW

· November 20, 1977 – 288, 60 mph……..464.45 kmh at Blowering Dam, NSW (World Record)

· October 8, 1978 – 317, 60 mph……..511.11 kmh at Blowering Dam, NSW (Current World Record)


Prior to launching Spirit of Australia, the official Australian speed record on water at that time was 162 mph.  Ken did not just break that record, he doubled it.

Ken’s Achievements:

· First person to design, build and drive a boat to an unlimited water speed record

· First person to break the 300 MPH & 500KMH speed barriers

· First Australian to hold an unlimited speed record

· First Australian to break the unlimited water speed record.

Ken’s Awards:

· Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1978 for his services to speed boat racing, from Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II.

· Inducted into the National Sporting Hall of Fame.

· Recipient of two, Union of International Motorboating, Gold medals.

· Advance Australia committee member. (Canberra)

· Australian Sports Medal, 2000

· “This is Your Life”  guest of honor

· Life Member of St. George Speed Boat Club.

Ken was also a NSW, APBA Referee, and delegate for RMYC Toronto and the first Australian Vice President for Offshore Racing

Ken’s Background:

1950s/60s  Ken was employed at BHP, Newcastle as an engineer and also served his National Service in the 14th Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers, during that time.

1966/67/68  Ken was State Champion with his skiff, “Monte Cristo”, in the 266ci. Class.

1970’s Ken moved to Sydney with a job selling power tools and rock drilling equipment .  It was during that time that he built Spirit of Australia.

Ken was a member of the Maritime Services Board Sport Advisory Committee

During those years, Ken filmed a series of short  films,  ”Safer Boating with Ken Warby” and a longer one called “The ten Basic Points of Safe Boating”. These films were produced by film maker, Rob McCauley, for the State and Federal Governments. Sample video :

1977 The Spirit of Australia and Ken were featured on the boards stand at the Sydney boat Show.

1980/81 Ken toured with “Spirit” in America after twice breaking the World Water Speed Record.  He worked with the various Australian Consulates, doing displays at boat shows and shopping centers, across the nation, funded by the Australian Government.

1983 Spirit of Australia was acquired by the National Maritime Museum, in Sydney, where it still remains to this day.

Ken moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

1983 – 1990 Ken professionally raced jet propelled dragsters,  jet funny cars and a jet truck, both in Australia and the USA.

1991 Ken started a ready mix concrete company called Mini Mix Inc., using small trucks for home delivery of concrete; a company he still owns and runs today.

2005 Ken started importing vintage Australian race boats into the USA and at present owns a fleet of five high powered craft.  He and his wife, Barbara are current members of the Vintage Division of the American Powerboat Association and compete in events every summer. The Australian boats are fan favorites and different to the typical American boat.

2012  Ken was inducted into the Clayton Vintage Race Boat Museums “Hall of Legends “. (USA)

2012 Ken was appointed “Grand Marshall” for the World Hydroplane Championships at Waterford, Michigan (USA).

2012 Warby Motor sports were named the Vintage Division, “Team of the Year”, at the American Power Boat Association annual general meeting in Dallas, Texas, USA.