Centenarian motorboater reaches the finishing line

Pioneer Watermota racer Colin Fair died on September 22 having just passed his 101st birthday.

Pioneer Watermota racer Colin Fair died on September 22 having just passed his 101st birthday.

Fair was born on 24 August 1902, during the reign of His Majesty King Edward VII during the infancy of marine motoring. It was as long ago as 1926 that Colin began racing the Watermota outboard engines manufactured by his father?s company in Teddington, Middlesex. Outboard racing was in its infancy. Although Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki motorcycles (let alone outboards) had yet to be conceived, Shingi Yano, a brilliant Japanese engineering friend of Colin Fair, updated and improved the company?s twin-cylinder 6hp K2 engine.

?We built that engine in six weeks,? Fair later recalled. ?The moment we received any drawing I would race off in my Austin Seven to the pattern makers, then up to the Midlands for the casting, then back to Teddington for machining. Once ready it was fixed behind my 8ft racing hydroplane based on American plans but patriotically called British Maid I.?

The Watermota Speed Model was the only successful British racing outboard during the 1927, 1928 and 1929 seasons. Colin Fair was able to average a very respectable 35.84 mph in British Maid. Tragically his friend Yano was drowned during an accident while racing the sister ship Bullet.

Watermota outboards might have made a steady success had not the 1929 depression ruined business generally. After that, the company concentrated on inboard engines, starting with the 10hp SK2, and then the 32hp Model C which became a steady money-spinner.

During the London Blitz, Colin moved the entire business into works at Abbotskerwell, near Newton Abbot, Devon. Marinising Ford engines was to keep the business alive for several decades. In the 1970s they were offering a range of units from 7hp-250 hp called Sea Cub, Sea Panther, Sea Scout and Sea Wolf, although they never returned to building outboards.

When the National Motor Boat Museum was assembled in Basildon, Essex, a very proud octogenarian Colin Fair was only too proud to see his trophies, Watermota engines and his Japanese friend Yano?s racing hydro Bullet take up pride of place.
Colin once recalled, ?Racing in the 1920s was great fun! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and felt I had fully justified my existence.?


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