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Powering a Legend

Powering a Legend

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  • All these achievements … testify to the long-standing winning efforts of the Buzzi/FPT alliance …
  • To date, FB Design and FPT Industrial have won 32 titles together, including 15 world championships and 17 international trophies …

HMS recounts how FPT Industrial powered the powerboat legend Fabio Buzzi to take his latest Guinness world record at more than 277km/h …

The recent Cannes Yachting Festival had the privilege of playing host to a very special world record-breaking powerboat – namely, Fabio Buzzi’s famous red hydroplane, which last year set a new world record on Lake Como as the fastest diesel-powered vessel in the world. Powered by FPT’s brand-new C16 1000 Cursor 16 marine engine, the FB-designed powerboat reached an incredible 277.5km/h, thereby assuring veteran powerboat champion Buzzi of his place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Originally designed for the agricultural industry to power mighty combine harvesters, the craft’s special power plant, the Cursor 16, was responsible in no small measure for the record-breaking achievement, and, in partnership with FB Design, it was adapted for marine use to deliver a total horsepower of 1700hp.

FPT Industrial and FB Design, in fact, have been collaborating for 35 years, but this latest partnership saw yet more new technological initiatives being brought to bear, including a modernised and reappraised turbocharger with electronic variable geometry, a single direct circuit cooling system and a water intake step-change solution housed within the boat’s rudder. The Cursor 16 common-rail engine also features steel piston technology and the introduction of a striking, specially made exhaust manifold.

In order to adapt the engine for this purpose, FPT Industrial relied on the expertise of their research and development centres. The plant at Pregnana Milanese, which specialises in the customisation of marine engines, played an important role in the engine’s development, as did the Turin testing centre and the R&D centre in Arbon, Switzerland. The latter optimised and tested the engine to modify its fuel injection system, drawing upon its experience and previous involvement with the likes of the Dakar Rally and the Africa Eco Race to do so. (Arbon is noteworthy not only for being the birthplace of the first diesel truck engine and the common-rail injection system, and developing the first application of a variable geometry turbocharger for a diesel engine, but also for the company’s patented HI-eSCR or High Efficiency Selective Catalytic Reduction system.)

To date, FB Design and FPT Industrial have won 32 titles together, including 15 world championships and 17 international trophies: seven in Europe, four in South America and six in Italy. Buzzi’s hulls won many high-profile international races throughout the 1980s and triumphed in the 2012 New York–Bermuda race in the boat Col Moschin, equipped with two C90 650 engines. These same engines even won following a broaching during the Monte Carlo–Venice race in 2011 with Kerakoll FPT. The record-breaking red hydroplane, when previously fitted with four N67 600 engines, then also won the Marathon World Cup in 2010, at that time the most prestigious endurance race in the world. All these achievements, together with the latest Guinness world record, testify to the long-standing winning efforts of the Buzzi/FPT alliance, and the drive and determination of one of powerboating’s greatest living legends – the unstoppable king of high-performance himself, the one and only Fabio Buzzi!


Fabio Buzzi the man

Buzzi was born in Lecco in 1943 and is descended from a family associated for centuries with the art of building and design. His powerboat competition career started in 1960 and he graduated in mechanical engineering in 1971 from the Polytechnic University of Turin where he took a degree in mechanical engineering with a thesis on a self-constructed vehicle. Fabio Buzzi founded his industrial activity in the boating sector in 1972, under the FB Design trademark. Buzzi’s early career included his advancement into offshore racing in 1978, whereupon he won the Italian and European Class 3 championships, and then the following year he set the world speed record for diesel boats using a VM engine at a top speed of 191.58km/h. Among his many achievements as a boat designer, Buzzi has secured 52 world offshore championships, 22 European offshore championships, 27 Italian offshore championships and a grand total of 40 world speed records.


Did you know?

  • Fabio Buzzi was the first man to build a boat using Kevlar.
  • Buzzi’s very first race was the Pavia–Venice race in 1960.
  • Buzzi is also the founder of Seatek marine diesel engines.

The history of the diesel-powered record

The first diesel powerboat speed record was set in 1939 by Gert Lürssen, the famous German manufacturer who reached a speed of 42.253mph (68km/h). Then, in 1967, the American Don Aronow was the first to break the 62mph (100km/h) barrier. Ten years later, in 1977, Tullio Abbate reached 86.992mph (140km/h), a record exceeded only two years later by Fabio Buzzi with 118.682mph (191km/h). The first person to pass the 125.274mph (200km/h) mark was the Milanese financier Carlo Bonomi in 1982 in Venice. Bonomi reached 132.352mph (213km/h), and in 1985 beat his own record, setting a new speed of 135.459mph (218km/h). Finally, in 1992, Fabio Buzzi regained the diesel record, setting a new record speed of 156.586mph (252km/h), which stood until his latest record set on 7th March 2018.

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