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Ken Warby's overalls

Date: 1970s
Dimensions:
Overall: 1 mm, 1.3 kg
Medium: Cotton, synthetic fabric
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ken Warby
Object Name: Coveralls
Object No: 00004444

User Terms

    Description
    These red overalls were worn by Ken Warby when he became the fastest man on water in his hydroplane SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA on Blowering Dam near Tumut, New South Wales in 1978.

    Warby chose this special lightweight skydiver's suit, with its elasticised waist and full-length double zips, for comfort and weight. He decorated it with sponsors’ badges and embroidered lettering - 'Ken Warby World Champion' is emblazoned across his chest and ' SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA the world's fastest boat' across his back. His two major sponsors, Speedo and Shell, are acknowledged with several colourful cloth badges sewn onto the sleeves and chest of his overalls.
    SignificanceThe overalls were worn by Ken Warby on his second attempt at the world water speed record in 1978 in SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA.
    HistorySPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA is an Australian designed and built jet-powered, wooden, 3-point hydroplane that has held the world water-speed record since 1977. Breaking both the 300 mph and 500 km/h barriers, SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA raised the world record to 511kph in 1978 at Blowering Dam near Tumut NSW.

    Ken Warby, SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA's designer, builder and driver, achieved his world water-speed records on a shoestring budget. Warby built his hydroplane over two years in the backyard of his suburban Sydney home, using stringers, brackets, stock bits of timber, plywood, screws, epoxy and a military-surplus jet engine that cost $65. He eventually launched the boat in 1974.

    Warby first claimed the world record in 1977, taking his home-made hydroplane to a speed of 464.44 km/h. In 1978 he returned to Blowering Dam in the southern highlands of New South Wales and pushed his record to 511.11 km/h (317.68 mph), where it still stands.

    Warby was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in recognition of his achievement. More information about SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA's construction, configuration and condition can be found on the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: RED WITH BLACK COLLAR AND CUFFS, EMBROIDERED ON FRONT LEFT CHEST WITH 'KEN WARBY WORLD CHAMPION' AND ON THE BACK, '"SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA" THE WORLD'S FASTEST BOAT'

    Web title: Ken Warby's overalls

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