The quest to go faster on water has challenged both man and machine for centuries. Whether for trading, waging war, or simply winning a coveted trophy, the relentless desire to reach ever higher speeds has been evident down the ages.

Modern-day challengers have a clear benchmark against which to measure their skill and ingenuity. The World Water Speed Record is the pinnacle of sporting achievement on water a compelling contest by man and machine, played out on a backcloth of wind and wave, distance and time.

The current record of 317.60 mph was set by Australian Ken Warby, in Spirit of Australia on Oct. 8, 1978, at Blowering Dam Reservoir, Australia. Although this impressive mark has been challenged on several occasions, the record has now stood resolute for more than 36 years.

With the objective of bringing the Water Speed Record back to the UK, author Nigel Macknight established the ambitious Quicksilver project. Now, after much development work, experimentation and in-depth trials, an extremely efficient boat design has emerged. The technically advanced craft is of modular construction with the main body consisting of a front section of steel spaceframe construction, housing a Rolls-Royce Spey Mk.101 jet engine. The craft’s monocoque rear section extends to the tail, whilst one of the boat’s front sponsons houses the driver.

“The history of the World Water Speed record is a story of technological advancement, human endeavor, triumph and tragedy," Nigel Macknight said. "The ultimate aim of the Quicksilver project is to return this prestigious international prize to Great Britain, and in doing so add a vibrant chapter for a new era, bringing modern technology to bear in the quest for speed with safety.

“Quicksilver is a new boat for a new generation, inspired by the past. We are striving to extend the reach of human endeavor and advance Britain’s technological achievements on the world stage.”

The Quicksilver World Water Speed Record Challenge is a collaborative venture uniting highly-skilled people and companies from across the broad span of British industry, drawn together by the project’s founder. Team members contribute their time and skills voluntarily, dovetailing their efforts on the project with their other commitments. Invaluable assistance is also given by an extensive network of sponsors who operate within sectors relevant to the project. Sponsors back the Challenge by contributing their expertise in areas ranging from design and manufacture to testing.

Acknowledged experts in the field of high-precision measurement and the application of CAD comparison software, Manchester Metrology were invited to lend practical support to the project.

“As Manchester Metrology specialize in the extremely precise, non-contact 3D measurement of engineered components manufactured to fine tolerances, their use of technology such as FARO’s Edge ScanArm HD has been invaluable in enabling the considerable progress we have made to date," Nigel Macknight added.

“As in demanding related disciplines such as motor sport, when designing and constructing Quicksilver we needed to strike a fine balance between guaranteeing that all of the boat’s components were strong enough to function correctly, whilst ensuring that they possess the minimum weight characteristics that would translate into speed.

“The in-depth FARO inspection routines that enabled accurate gathered component data to be compared with CAD models, have been vital in proving adherence to dimensional tolerances. Also, many of the fabricated components that make up Quicksilver’s superstructure are made from very thin aluminum and are prone to distortion when welded. After heat treatment and correctional re-work, these critical parts are scanned with a FARO Edge ScanArm HD, by Manchester Metrology, to confirm their conformity to specification.

“As Quicksilver needs to exhibit outstanding aerodynamic and hydrodynamic characteristics, Manchester Metrology will soon be using the FARO Edge ScanArm HD to gather data relating to all of the boat’s external surfaces. The impressive speed and accuracy of the Edge ScanArm HD will prove invaluable throughout this stage of the project as the rapid capture of precise data will help to expedite this penultimate stage of the project and move us on to an attempt on the record.”

As an authorized distributor and user of FARO products across a range of industrial applications, Manchester Metrology took the opportunity of using the recently launched advanced FARO Edge ScanArm HD to undertake rapid point cloud collection scanning routines on a wide range of Quicksilver structures. The use of FARO’s CAM2 Measure 10 software allowed deviations from nominal conditions to be displayed in both a graphic and tabulated format and quick comparisons with CAD to be made.

The power of the new FARO Laser Line Probe HD, high-definition 3D scanner, combined with the flexibility of the FARO Edge measuring arm has created the FARO Edge ScanArm HD, a high performance, very affordable, contact/non-contact portable measurement system.

The Edge ScanArm HD delivers rapid point cloud collection with extreme resolution and high accuracy all in a compact, lightweight and easy-to-use system. New functionalities now enable users to seamlessly scan across diverse surface materials regardless of contrast, reflectivity or part complexity and without any the use of special coatings or target placement.

The new system’s extra wide scan stripe and fast frame rate boosts productivity by increasing coverage and substantially reducing scanning time. Intricate components can be captured in fine detail as a result of the 2,000 actual points per scanline and the new blue laser that features noise reduction technology. Users are able to dramatically reduce required training time with the new cross hair feature and existing LED Rangefinder functionality, which provides real-time scanning feedback.