Fast Craft Intended to 'Go Places'

In 1994 Jeremy Watts contacted me saying that he was intending to start a new company to build fast leisure craft. The idea was that these would be craft that could cover distances in comfort at high speed in offshore conditions. They were not intended to be sportsboats used for water skiing or just a quick blast around the bay. They were intended to go places!

Jeremy was a well known racer (winning the 2 litre World Championship at around that time) and he knew the available concepts for fast craft. Broadly these were either planing monohulls or catamarans and there were many different versions of both types on the fast boat scene. There were also a number of my ‘stabilised monohull’ racers about; sometimes referred to as three pointers in those days. I had started designing the first one of these - Skean Dhu, for the Countess of Arran – in 1975. It had first raced in 1976 and had achieved some success, see the racing craft page. These craft were the direct antecedents of the Bladerunner – see the Bladerunner Time Line.

Jeremy and I had long discussions about which of the three types would make the best production craft, bearing in mind the high speed offshore ‘Grand Tourer’ that he was aiming for. A waterborne Aston Martin or Ferrari! We looked at the pros and cons of the mono, cat and what I was trying to achieve with the stabilised monohull. We agreed about the desirable features of a fast offshore craft and went with the stabilised monohull concept – a shape we now call an Air Entrapment Monohull – or AEM. This was a term coined by Jeremy and describes the function succinctly.

Continued Development

For the detailed reasoning behind the AEM hull shape and its comparison with the monohull and catamaran, have a look at …… Since its introduction, Jeremy has constantly developed the craft and introduced detailed enhancements. During his own periods on the water and through talking with owners, ideas for improvement are fed in all the time. We then discuss these and, if we think they are worth pursuing, a plan for testing out the ideas is formulated. This is, if deemed fit, then incorporated in the production craft.

Production and marketing of the Bladerunner 34 (34 feet) started in 1998, increasing from a trickle to a steady stream over the succeeding years. The 34 was replaced with the upgraded 35 in 2005 and the first 51 footer was produced in 2004.

The first 34 was initially used as a racer, just to show that it did have competitive performance and to get the craft seen. A true campaign was never properly mounted due to cost and engines were always stock and never blueprinted. Even so success was achieved. At the World 6 litre Championships in Venice they managed 4th overall with very recalcitrant engines which reduced the calm water speed way below the craft’s capability, but a superb performance in the rough water heat enabled a reasonable result. Bladerunner was twice second in the European championships once in 2001 and again in 2002. The latter result was particularly frustrating as having won the rough water heat, She was leading the calm heat also, with one lap to go, when one of the prop shafts snapped – but that is racing. Again, it would have paid dividends to have had blueprinted shafts! This first craft is still running well and has been refitted as a thrill ride craft.

Production Craft

The first ever production 34 (number 2), epitomised the thinking behind the Bladerunner concept. The owner lived in the Channel Islands and used the craft to commute to the South of England. Like a private aircraft, you do your pre-trip weather checks, etc., before making the journey. Overall time, if you include getting to the Airport or Marina and then filing flight plans, etc., is about the same. The difference with the Bladerunner is that when you complete your trip you have a recreation boat to use!

The first Bladerunner 51 obtained the Round Britain World Record in 2005 (27 hours and 10 minutes) and the second and third production craft, at this size, are being built now. Have a look at Ice Marine’s own website at

Time Line
View the race boat concepts developed over the past 30 years on our BLADERUNNER PROJECT



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