Iconic Bluebird K3 powerboat returns to lake where it broke water speed record 80 years ago

The Bluebird K3 set a record of 129.5mph in Lake Maggiore, Switzerland with racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell at the helm.
The Bluebird K3 set a record of 129.5mph in Lake Maggiore, Switzerland with racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell at the helm.
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An iconic powerboat which broke the water speed record 80 years ago has returned to the lake where it made history after it was painstakingly restored.

The Bluebird K3 set a record of 129.5mph in Lake Maggiore, Switzerland with racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell at the helm.

It returned to the same stretch of water at Luci e Ombre festival in Locarno on Friday after years of restoration - and achieved a speed of 52mph.

Bluebird is owned and driven by Karl Foulkes-Halbard, who inherited it from his late father Paul.

Karl embarked on ten runs over the 1km course in very choppy conditions.

He 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’m the second person in history to pilot the boat on this lake after Sir Malcolm Campbell.”

The boat was commissioned by Sir Malcolm in 1937 to rival the Americans in the fight for the world water speed record.

Its first world record was on September 1, 1937, on Lake Maggiore, on the border between Switzerland and Italy.

The Bluebird K3 hit 126.32mph, breaking Garfield Wood's record of 124.86mph set five years earlier.

Sir Malcolm then broke his own record the next day, with 129.5mph.

Then on August 17, 1938, he hit 130.91mph at Switzerland's Lake Hallwyl, before hitting 141.74mph in 1939 in a Bluebird K4 on Coniston Water, Cumbria.

A team of 15 people from Sussex were involved in getting the boat onto the water last week.

The Swiss authorities provided full safety cover including police, fire, first aid and divers.

The boat will be now be on static display until Sunday before returning to its home - The Campbell Circuit, Polegate East Sussex.

Bluebird will next be on view to the public at Henley Traditional Boat Show on July 20 - 22 where organisers hope it will run on the Thames.