Fabio Buzzi’s Bermuda Challenge Record
The following letter from Fabio Buzzi recounts in his own words, the challenges and triumph of achieving the fastest time ever in the Bermuda Challenge. It is translated from Italian—and Buzzi concludes with a challenge of his own.
Charles Lindbergh, the great aviator, was unquestionably a reckless fool.
_In 1927 he was the first one to fly over the Atlantic Ocean alone, from New York to Paris on a small single-engine plane made of wood and canvas, no radio, no floats, and with only a paper bag with three sandwiches, desperately struggling against sleep and frost, resulting in one of the greatest success worldwide, with a triumphal parade upon his return to New York.
Few know that, a few days later, a much more serious attempt had the same success. In fact, Levine and Chamberlin, with a plane much more serious and a crew of two people, even managed to get to Berlin from New York, with radio and all safety devices.
FB Design builds fast and reliable boats, and are keen to prove it.
Many shipyards build beautiful boats, bring them to the exhibitions with beautiful girls on board. Some boats are fast and win races.
Very few boats are reliable, because the market does not need them expressly, in fact in modern motor boats the sofa area, kitchen and bedroom are mainly used, of course all with air conditioning!
But military customers of FB Design are especially asking for reliable boats, while beauty can be appreciated by the eyes, reliability is proven by facts.Hence that explains the maniacal obsession that FB Design has for long world records.FB Design has conquered almost all of them, from Venice to Montecarlo, Montecarlo to London, Miami to Nassau, Tampa to Miami and Chicago to Detroit.
All records were won with hulls well prepared, derived from racing, were long, narrow, and super powered.
Boating Magazine invented a special record, limited to boats of only 40 feet, on the Atlantic route from New York to Bermuda, which is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, exactly on a route of 135°, starting from New York City and distant 684 miles.
No other record runs so far away from the coast, especially in the North Atlantic, one of the most hostile seas in the world.The model of the new 41, which is 39.9 feet LOA, comes fully milled by a 5-axis machine and it is therefore mathematically perfect.The hull is foamed with the new patent FB Design “Structural Foam” and this makes it very sturdy and completely unsinkable. The construction is all-composite, with multiaxial fabrics and stainless steel, while tanks are integrated under the floor of the cockpit.
Two engines of 650 hp FPT Cursor 90 are coupled to two ZF 312 TS two-speed, connected to ZF Trimax surface drives, finishing with two 5-bladed propellers by “Eliche Radice”.Then again, security rudders and finally a rearplatform, which is also foamed, that gives positive thrust.
For a record of 684 miles, we need auxiliary fuel tanks, which are specifically designed and placed into the cockpit.
Mindful of the rash of Lindbergh, we decide for a crew of 6 people, equipped with the most modern electronic technology, from the night vision by the Neapolitan “Starlight Italia”, three GPS, radar, radio and satellite phone and two trackers that trace the course shown to all via internet.
While we test the boat, a heroic American pilot, Chris Ferting, beats the previous record, bringing it to 21 hours and 39 minutes, with an open central consol boat, two Americans inboard diesel engines of 350 hp with stern drives and only one co-pilot: Lindbergh style!
Just as well, it will be all advertising if we manage to beat him with our FB 41′ closed hull, air-conditioned, equipped with toilet and with a crew of 6 people, an undertaking very similar to a real military incursion, just the typical mission of our typical customer!
The hull is painted at the end of June, to be camouflaged marine but we also want it to be a little sexy, so we invent a camouflage logo with the commandos of the Italian Army. The hull is in fact called “Col Moschin” glorious name of the special forces of the Italian Army, for which the first hull has been designed.With them we do the first sea trials, testing many accessories dedicated to their jobs, like a special carbon gangway at the bow, and an even more special launch pad at the stern.
Two divers are expected on board for the record and come to Lake Como to develop new solutions and to familiarize with the change of the propellers, as the past experiences teach us that this is the problem more likely to happen.
But “Col Moschin” propellers are now designed by “Eliche Radice”, and are very strong.After many tests the hull is perfectly in place and is shipped by sea to New York, where it will wait for a favorable weather situation.July and August pass by, without presenting favorable possibilities.
Only on September 24th the three weather agencies that assist FB Design, agree on a short window for the day of Friday, September 28th, yellow light, not green! So, in a hurry, we decide to leave, even if the divers of Col Moschin cannot make it.
The crew is experienced: Fabio Buzzi as captain, the faithful chief mechanic Antonio Binda, journalist and expert pilot Maurizio Bulleri, Roberto Rizzo, assigned to on-board computer, and Emilio Riganti, a multiple powerboat world champion.
In America, we add a Navy Seal, Lou Boyd, just in case: in fact, we think that, if anything should happen 300 miles from the US coast, the American fellow is certainly carried to safety, and so perhaps the poor five Italians!
The weather is by definition variable, so “Commander’s Weather” tells the crew, waiting in New York, to leave before 5pm on Thursday the 27th, because they expect storms to come.Lou fails to arrive on time and “Col Moschin” leaves New York at exactly 3:57 pm with perfect route of 135 ° to Bermuda, going on plane immediately despite the 4000 liters on board, five members of the crew, water, food and ammunitions for 6 days as, on a course so long, anything can happen.
The sea is not calm, we expect waves from 1 to 4 feet, but the crew immediately suspects that the weather forecast was in…meters and not feet!At night we proceed with Starlight Italia nightvision and the moon. The moon sets at 3 am and left us in total darkness until the rising of the sun, at 6.
In the comfort of our office, the predictions were to be able to break the record in just 16 hours, so the route has been divided into 16 way points and at any time, when we reached one, we moved fuel from tanks at the bottom to ones at the top, opening two taps. Difficult task in rough seas, job done by Antonio.
After 8 hours of navigation we take a break for hygienic purposes, we lower the speed, and it soon becomes clear that certain things, against the wind, cannot be done!
The engine hatches will never be open throughout the race. The two FPT engines have not lost a single shot, with fluctuations in temperature of two degrees at most, rising to 82 ° in the few quiet moments, and down to 78 ° when, due to the sea, we had to reduce speed. But the crew is tired and seasickness is always there for those who rest in the back seats.
With the rising of the sun we all feel better and at the penultimate way point we communicated to timekeepers in Bermuda and some friends waiting for Col Moschin. At only 5 miles from the finish line, we slow down and alert the Coast Guard and Customs of Bermuda and on this occasion we forget to check the level of diesel in the two lower tanks.
We speed up immediately … to stop after only a mile! To verify that one tank is empty and the left engine is turned off, while in the other tank there are 400 liters remaining! This is because, during the night, transfers of diesel were made, with the appropriate electrical pumps, back and forth, to best balance the hull, forgetting then, as already said, to equalize the levels.With another pump tanks are balanced, and within minutes Col Moschin runs again.
During the last mile our boat is joined by another vessel of FB Design. The FB 39 Rib of a mythical American character, customer of FB Design for years, Ross Perot, who, though not at the time in Bermuda, has very kindly left us his Rib available, including crew and General Manager, who will be of great help for logistics on the island.
The arrival is incredibly exciting, it is a great event for Bermuda’s press and local TV, that await our heroes, which otherwise show some problems with directional stability to walk on land.
It is a great triumph for FB Design and its technology. It is the demonstration of the superiority of the surface drives over stern drive transmissions, FPT Fiat diesel engines and common rail fuel injection system, just happens to be invented by Fiat.
Now the record is there, at almost 40 knots, ready to be beaten. Please do it as soon as possible, as Fabio Buzzi is getting old and he would like to beat this record again!