World’s coolest boats: Why the Q Boat from The World Is Not Enough is 007’s ultimate pocket rocket

Each month Nick Burnham picks out an iconic boat that can lay claim to the title of world’s coolest boat. This month, he takes a closer look at the Q Boat from The World Is Not Enough...

In 1999 two distinctive boats featured in the new James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. The basic premise was a failed assassination attempt at MI6 from the River Thames, and the gunning platform was a Sunseeker Superhawk 34. But arguably the coolest boat in that sequence was the Q Boat that 007 gave chase in.

Built by Riddle Marine of Idaho, USA, 15 craft were supplied for filming duties, all powered by 300hp V8 petrol engines which gave them a 50-knot top speed. Simon Crane and Vic Armstrong headed up the ‘Second Unit’ stunt team, and they soon discovered that these powerful little craft offered a wealth of opportunity.

Jet boats produce a constant flow of water, the speed of flow and direction allowing the boat to manoeuvre rather than a gearbox with forward, neutral and reverse of a conventional drive.

So with a jet, it’s possible to engage reverse at full throttle, the boat stopping so suddenly that it can dip the bow under. They used this for a stunt where 007 appears to dive the boat under a barrier.

They also fitted high pressure nitrogen nozzles at each end of the transom, one pointing up, the other down, which could flip an airborne boat 360 degrees in the air.

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A ramp was fitted to the Sunseeker out of sight and the jet boat jumped it, performing the barrel roll in mid-air before landing and delivering a glancing blow to the dockside (edited out in the film).

Six cameras captured it in a single take. The chase climaxed at the Millennium Dome, still under construction in 1999.

Having torpedoed the Superhawk, causing it to be rammed into the shore so that the assassin could escape in a hot air balloon, the last jet boat stunt was to jump the burning Sunseeker, clear a low wall and land in a small lake, Bond – played by Pierce Brosnan – having decamped mid-flight onto the balloon.

The stunt team had a five-minute window of slack water to make the jump, allowing just one attempt per day. Six attempts later it was in the bag, completing six weeks of filming for six screen minutes of spectacular boating stunts.

Q Boat specifications

YEAR: 1999
LOA: 4.6m
BEAM: 1.5m
POWER: Single 300hp V8 petrol engine
TOP SPEED: 50 knots