Fastest blind man on the water tops 100mph in new water speed record
Mike Newman has become the fastest blind man on the water and set a water speed record with a two way averaged top speed of 105mph (91.2 knots).
Mike also holds the record for fastest blind man on land after driving a tuned Nissan GTR at 200mph, allowing him to join Donald Campbell as the only two men to simultaneously hold world speed records on both land and water.
Mike set the record in aid of his charity Speed of Sight. Mike co-founded the charity to give people with all types of disabilities motorsport experiences in high performance vehicles that would otherwise be denied them.
The charity, which has Donald Campbell’s daughter Gina Campbell as a patron, runs a specially adapted dual control Caterham 7 that includes a steering wheel for the co-pilot and a similarly adapted off-road buggy.
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Blind from birth, Mike has always had a keen interest in motorsport, wanting to experience it for himself. Despite challenging conditions during the record attempt in Torbay, he told us that he enjoyed the run very much. Mike previously held the record, which he set in 2013 at 93mph (80.8 knots), but says his ambition has always been to top 100mph on the water.
Supported by Torquay based charter yacht Triple Seven, an 80ft Azimut that was loaned free for the event, the boat used in the attempt was Silverline, a closed cockpit 43ft Outer Limits SV43 belonging to experienced powerboat racer Drew Langdon who co-piloted Mike during the runs.
Powered by two Mercury Racing 9.5 litre super-charged V8 petrol engines producing 1,075hp each, the Offshore Formula One boat runs in the top echelon Unlimited Class.
“We were planning to attempt the record last year,” Drew told MBY, “however we suffered a setback after sinking the boat off Portland Bill during the Cowes-Torquay powerboat race”.
During the record attempt, Drew operated the throttles while guiding Mike at the helm until the boat was planing at speed. Then the throttles were handed over to Mike for the timed runs under Drew’s guidance.
“Conditions were not ideal,” Drew continues, “We had about a Force 5 wind so we had to run parallel with the waves and pick our moment. Mike is incredibly sensitive to the balance of the boat, he has a very impressive reactions and the ability to ‘feel’ what is happening. We had no particularly big issues, but it got quite busy in there!”