Ken Warby (born 9 May 1939) is the current holder of the world record for water speed which he set on Blowering Dam on 8 October 1978.
Born in Newcastle Australia, Warby was one of five children born to Neville and Evelyn Warby. At the age of 16 Warby was at a Scout camp at Croudace Bay south of Newcastle when he saw a 13 foot racing speedboat. It had an immediate impact on him and once home he began to design and build his own. This first boat was built from plywood and maple wood, ten foot long and was fitted with a 1934 Ford Perfect four cylinder engine. Warby took the boat to trial it on Croudace Bay and despite it not being wildly successful, Warby was determined from then on to become the fastest man on water.
Warby started to improve on his designs by studying other boat builders - particularly that of his hero, Donald Campbell. He began to attend races at Newcastle Royal Motor Yacht Club, learning what he could about engines and speed performance.
Warby joined BHP as an apprentice mechanical engineer but continued his growing passion for water speed racing. He built another boat, this time a 15 footer, and he began to win races.
In 1969 his growing engineering knowledge, incredible natural intuition was combined with his practical experience as a boat builder. In the backyard of his Sydney suburban home, now with a wife and family of his own, Warby began to construct what would become the fastest boat ever built.
Warby, now working as salesman, undertook the designing and building of his boat in his spare time in his backyard in Concord, Sydney. He procured the materials himself and the actual building. But financial and time restraints were always obstacles to what he knew was his life purpose, to be the fastest man on water. Driven by a steady determination that never wavered, even in the face of widespread scepticism, Warby pushed on. He changed jobs, taking up selling paintings in shopping centres and sought advice from those whose expertise might help, such as Professor Finks. But at the end of the day, it was Warby who made the final decisions and Warby whose life would be on line.
In 1977 on Blowering Reservoir, Warby set a new world water speed record that he broke in the following year. He later took up land racing in dragsters and big trucks with big jet engines and moved to the United States.
Although Warby had at one stage thought of taking to the water to better his own world speed record, he decided against at and at this stage, nearly 40 years on, it is son David Warby who looks to make the challenge.