Powerboat racing legend Fabio Buzzi, 76, and two other racers have died after their vessel hit a submerged dam in Venice, Assonautica Italiana has confirmed.
A fourth racer, named as Mario Invernizzi, is being treated in hospital after being thrown from the vessel at around 2114 local time.
The identity of the other victims, Italian co-pilot Luca Nicolini and Dutch mechanic Erik Hoorn, has been confirmed by the global racing organisation Union International Motonautique (UIM).
The incident happened near the finish line of the race in Lido di Venezia and it is understood that the boat was travelling at 80 knots at the time of impact.
Afreddo Malcarne, president of race organiser Assonautica Italiana, said: “It is with deep-felt, sincere pain that we give news of the serious incident happened tonight (September 17) involving the boat of Fabio Buzzi during the Monte Carlo to Venice record attempt.
“A serious mourning has come across Italian sport and the whole powerboat community. Three experienced men, sea and speed enthusiasts, leave us in an act that remains part of a sport pure in its tragic epilogue. To the families, the teams, FIM President Vincenzo Iaconianni and UIM president Raffaele Chiulli we send deepest condolences from Assonautica Italiana.”
Luigi Brugnaro, mayor of Venice, added: “What happened seems to be inexplicable, but the authorities will be in charge of clarifying [the situation]. With regret, nothing remains but to offer our condolences to the families of the victims.”
A life in the fast lane
Earlier this year, as Buzzi collected the Judge’s Special Award at the Motor Boat Awards, editor Hugo Andreae paid tribute, saying: “Fabio Buzzi isn’t just the most successful powerboat racer of our era (or possibly ever), he’s also a brilliant designer, engineer, boatbuilder and innovator.
“He has won almost every major powerboat race on the planet from marathon events like the Round Britain Race, to the Class 1 Offshore World Championship and the terrifying Pavia to Venice river race, all in vastly different boats that he’s designed and built in his own factory.
“To put that in perspective it’s like Lewis Hamilton winning the F1 title, the World Rally Championship and the Le Mans 24 hour race, in cars that he’s personally created.
“Just last year, he set a new world record for diesel powered boats of 277.5kmh in a Buzzi-built hydroplane, adding to a collection of speed records that includes the infamous New York to Bermuda challenge over 684nm.
“Crucially, he has also translated that sporting success into the commercial boatbuilding world. In 1986 he designed the legendary Seatek high-speed diesel engine and his company, FB Design, goes from strength to strength having won 52 World Championships and set 40 world speed records.
“Today, it is better known for building high-speed patrol boats and counts no fewer than 43 different police and military forces (including Britain’s SBS) among its customers. It also develops and builds the FPT range of light but powerful diesel engines and is responsible for the design and build of Sunseeker’s Hawk 38 hull.”
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Andrea Frabetti, CEO of Sunseeker International, added his condolences, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Fabio Buzzi, our long-time partner and esteemed friend. Fabio was not only a champion powerboat racer, but an outstanding engineer, boat builder, innovator and legendary figure within the marine industry.
“Sunseeker collaborated with Fabio Buzzi Design since the late 1990s which resulted in several iconic models including the XS2000 and XS Sport. Most recently, we worked with Fabio on our new high performance Hawk 38, in which he created a cutting-edge and patented stepped hull which has justly received remarkable acclaim.
“Fabio recently sent me a heart-felt message outlining his great admiration for the Sunseeker brand and team and we are forever thankful to have worked with him. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and colleagues.”