England

Pilot Keith Whittle 'luck' in surviving Coniston boat flip

  • 19 November 2013
  • From the section England

A record-breaking powerboat pilot has spoken of his luck in surviving a crash on a Cumbrian lake.

Keith Whittle, from Hayling Island in Hampshire, was taking part in the Power Boat Records Week when his craft flipped.

Mr Whittle escaped with minor injuries when the boat turned over at 130 mph (210 kph) on Coniston Water.

The 57-year-old described going into "survival mode" in the moments before impact.

Mr Whittle was attempting to complete a return run on calm water in his power boat, Pepstar.

He was aiming to improve his own Formula Two world record when the carbon fibre boat "just started to lift".

"All you can do is brace yourself for impact and get out as soon as you can after the accident.

"In a way it is lucky it went into the water stern first, going in forwards could have been a different story," he said.

Keith Whittle
Keith Whittle was attempting to improve on his own speed record

An airbag deployed and it took about 20 seconds for Mr Whittle to swim clear. He suffered only bruised ribs.

Ironically he had passed a marker which meant his recorded average speed of 132.18 mph did count as a new record.

The Power Boat Records Week contest has run since 1970 and was moved to Coniston in 2005 when a speed limit introduced on Windermere forced them to look elsewhere.

Donald Campbell famously died in an accident at Coniston Water in January 1967 while trying to increase the world water speed record to above 300 mph.

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