The man behind the legendary Fletcher marque
Norman Fletcher was probably the leading producer of runabouts and ski boats between the 1950s and 80s with a company based at Burntwood in Staffordshire.
He opened his first business at the age of 19 in West Bromwich selling model making kits and took up powerboat racing 13 years later. Dissatisfied with the craft available at the time he designed and built his own race boat. It proved so successful that he began building to order and within five years had three small factories producing a range of craft.
His company, Fletcher International Sports Boats, went on to become one of the largest and most respected sports boat manufacturers in Europe. By 1980, 70 per cent of production was being exported and also manufactured under license in Spain and Cyprus plus a subsidiary company, Fletcher France, in Normandy to service a growing French market.
In spite of their racing pedigree, Norman Fletcher developed his boats for recreational use but never losing sight of his origins was committed to promoting sports boating and water sports as an accessible family activity.
Norman continued to race powerboats in National and International races and in 1964 won the first British Class III Offshore Championship in the 14ft (4.2m) Fletcher Arrow 140, White Tornado, alongside his long term co-driver, Lionel Viser.
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Norman continued to break new frontiers. His first design had been original, introducing air under the boat to break down surface tension, providing a dry, comfortable ride, compared to other craft on the market at the time. He later developed the deep V hull design giving safe, high speed performance.
Fletcher boats have set British Water Speed Records in several classes Norman himself setting a British Record of 79.61 mph in 1974 driving a Flagship Arrowbolt in the Sports Inboards (unlimited engine capacity) category.
Apart from his own sporting achievements he was committed to providing craft, sponsorship and support for the British powerboat and water ski racing community and was fundamental in promoting and supporting the first world water ski racing world championship in 1979..
He died on July 4 age 81 suffering Alzheimer’s and is survived by his wife Valerie, two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.