BBA student builds striking retro speed boat

Photos by Janine Cashin, Paul Dyer, Becky Jacobs, and Jenny Steer

Boat Building Academy student Brian Reford built this jet ski powered speed boat during the course of his 35 week course, and launched it during the college’s big student launch in December. (Click here for more posts about BBA launchings and news.)

After some vigorous champagne popping Brian and his brother slowly steered the boat, built in just six months, out of the harbour. As the boat passed through the narrow channel leading out past the Cobb, the rest of the newly launched boats fell in line behind and followed Brian out to sea.

Then, Brian put his foot down. A Western Morning News article described the boat as a ‘bullet-shaped’ and her performance matched her looks – the crowd moved to the harbour wall to see her perform watched as she shot across the bay.

Some 16ft in length and built using three layers of marine ply on western red cedar frames, she was built from plans based on a classic American power boat, the Donzi Sweet 16, from plans obtainable from the website Classic Wooden Boat Plans.

The design appealed to Brian because of the exaggerated shape and its spaciousness comparative to its size. He added a 130 hp engine for a touch of excitement via a jet ski engine bought from an online auction site.

Brian has been interested in making things for as long as he can remember, learning woodworking skills from his late father and building his first Land Rover at just 13 years old. After school he went on to work for a haulage company mending lorries, but a period of school work experience at Henwood & Dean inspired him, and he joined the Academy to learn to build boats.

As a way of remembering his father, who at one time was a gunsmith in Kenya, Brian named his speedboat Bunduki, the Swahili word for ‘rifle’ and also the name of the gun shop his father used to run.

Colin Henwood, who came to the launch, has offered Brian a job at the Henwood & Dean yard.

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