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Well, the startled students gave him nothing much, our special correspondent reports, but a Gunnery English teacher could be heard for rows around, ruling in a clear voice. "In spelling," he proclaimed, "I give you F."
THE PURE ICY UNKNOWN
When the famed Slo-Mo-Skun V of Seattle became airborne, flipped end over end and all but killed Driver Lou Fageol in the Gold Cup trials two years ago, speedboat men began to wonder whether propeller-driven hydroplanes were not being pushed to the ultimate fringes of controllable speed. The suspicion deepened when Henry Kaiser's Hawaii Kai shattered into kindling wood at 193 mph last winter. But Detroit's devil-may-care Danny Foster, a hawk-faced, wonderfully articulate ex-fighter pilot, did not share it; Foster has a feel for high-speed boats which amounts to genius, and when he tried Canada's awesome Miss Supertest last spring he began itching to explore the unknown with her.
The oversize (three and a half tons), overpowered (with a 2,500 hp Rolls Royce-Griffon engine), mahogany-hulled Miss Supertest failed in the task for which she was built—to bring the Harmsworth Cup to Canada. She broke a quill shaft before the Gold Cup and did not compete. But hydroplanes must be tuned like fine watches; neither Foster nor Owner Jim Thompson despaired. This month, on Lake Ontario's Bay of Quinte, they babied the big boat to bellowing perfection; in one experimental burst Foster pushed her up to 200 mph. Then they waited. One afternoon last week they got perfect water—miles and miles of surface patterned with delicate one-inch ripples. Foster climbed jubilantly aboard and set off to break the late Stanley Sayres' world record of 178.497 mph set in Slo-Mo-Shun IV in 1952.
He had seven miles of water to run before he reached the buoys marking the measured mile. He built his speed to 175. "I wanted to see what she had. So I laid it to her. She was just alive. We were going so fast just like that I had to back her off. I figure we were going about 220." Had he opened her all the way? Not at all. "I wouldn't even guess how much more she has," he said. He throttled back to 200 and Miss Supertest flashed into the mile with a towering hissing rooster tail of white water flung into the sky behind her. On shore, Owner Thompson watched in awe. "She wasn't hollering or bellowing or roaring—she was just humming—just going like hell. I've never seen anything like it."
Out in the flying boat, Foster sat in a sort of ecstasy. "I didn't have to move the wheel a sixteenth of an inch. I just relaxed and let her go. She never moved up, down or sideways. I felt like we were sliding on a big sheet of ice-just gliding along like we didn't weigh anything. The wind was beating at my clothes and the water was just shooting by. There was a buoy halfway up the course, and it shot past me so fast it looked like a sea gull. But there really wasn't much noise. I just sat there and looked up the lake three or four miles to keep her straight."
Then Foster saw the innocent-looking face of death—a seven-inch wave—apparently left by a cabin cruiser which had passed near the course six minutes before. "All I could do was brace my arms against the wheel, and we hit it. I was afraid we'd lift up and take off the way Fageol did in Slo-Mo V. We didn't. She lifted but she came down on her left sponson. The water sheared off that sponson just like you ran it through a band saw. From then on it was all stop."
In a twinkling the boat jolted from 200 mph to 50. Foster was flung forward so hard that his body bent the spring steering wheel into a lopsided pretzel; his head hit the rim, his goggles cracked, his nose and forehead were cut. The boat, incredibly, "didn't waver an inch." But the record had been snatched away. A run of 20 seconds for the measured mile would have meant an average of 180 miles an hour. Miss Supertest had used up only 17 when she hit the wave and had only 150 yards to go.
"The boat is fantastic," said Foster as he brought her to shore. "I had it robbed right out from under me."