SPITFIRE by Bob Carter

Gilflite Spitfire

By Bob Carter

Performance Boat editor

PowerBoat Magazine

Through my involvement in power boat racing and the VSBC, (Victorian Speed Boat Club), I had the highest respect for Dave Gill as a boat builder who had a flair for designing fast and successful race boats plus the skill as a timber boat builder to turn out amazing race boats.

David and Kevin founded Gilflite on race boats, but eventually they were destined to become one of Australia’s foremost fibreglass ski boat manufacturers.  In December 1979 the Gilflite fibreglass production ski-boat, ‘Spitfire’, graced the cover of Australian Powerboat magazine.  According to my article, brothers David and Kevin Gill designed the hull in December 1976.  But before going into production the hull was modified and developed to be one of the sweetest riding and handling hulls of the era.

Powered by a Holden 308 and driving through the new and inspired Gilflite soft-clutch, the Spitfire impressed me greatly.  Wound out, the hull returned a top speed of 52 mph at just 4700 rpm.   The riding attitude was sweet, the ‘screen’ a stunner … “it is indeed rare to test an inboard ski boat which has so few vices, yet so many attributes.”

Can you believe that the test rig was just $7825 on the trailer, turn-key?

Not long after this test was published, the magazine editor introduced an annual PowerBoat Magazine, boat testers Boat of the Year feature.  Each of the contributing journos had to nominate the boat, which impressed them the most over the preceding year of tests.  I had no hesitation in declaring the Gilflite Spitfire as my Boat of the Year.

In the day, PowerBoat magazine was a powerful medium for the powerboat market.   I’ve got no doubt that the test and then the Boat of the Year accolade contributed to the popularity and sales success of the Spitfire.   Much more significant to the success of the Spitfire though, was the simple fact that this was an exceptional ski boat and the boat buying public were smart enough to recognise it.

If only it still carried a price tag of $7825.

EAGLE-FLITE

Kellie and Katies ‘EAGLEFLITE’

Here’s a story about a new GILFLITE Shortline, a ballerina on ski’s, a teenager with a disability, AFL footy fans ‘Eagles supporters’, the love of water and the great outdoors and a name combination of notable relevance ……

In the words of Kellie – when it comes to boating and water skiing; “I was a late starter, got into it when I met new friends 10 years ago, learned to single ski at age of 35, I have always loved the outdoors; boating and camping. So the skiing scene was like a duck to water for me. I’ve been skiing with Show Ski WA for the past 2 years and my disabled daughter who ski’s with the WA disabled water ski division. My daughter Katie is 16, she lives with Angelman syndrome and loves the water and her ski life”.

It was a pleasure to deal with Kellie’s family and her parents during the build process of their Shortline. Working with them to achieve their personalised family sports/show boat was an enjoyable and exciting process with a very successful outcome. We like the name, ‘a notable combination of two passions’

We wish you all the very best and years of pleasure with your GILFLITE

SOUTHERN 80 (1984)

“For anyone who appreciates the thrill of victory and the sorrow of defeat”

A heart-felt story about a couple of thrillseekers and a GILFLITE Spitfire named ‘Animal’… with less than 10 minutes to go they’d be bathed in glory!

Written by: Mark O’Laughlin – circa 1984

From the GILFLITE Archives

Stars Down Under Water Ski and Stunt Show Australia Day 2020

Above: John Dance ‘OAM’ driving the GILFLITE Integra – official tow boat

“Congratulations to Robert Dance, awarded the ‘Order of Australia Medal’ for his contribution to water skiing.

The GILFLITE Integra was the official tow boat for the ‘Stars Down Under Water Ski and Stunt Show’ where they performed at the ‘Festival of Sails’ at the ‘Royal Geelong Yacht Club’ for the biggest sailing regatta in the Southern Hemisphere held over the Australia Day long weekend 2020.

GILFLITE Integra: owned by Jan and Robert Dance (This Heirloom GILFLITE was custom built for Jan and her sister in June 1989). Jan absolutely loves the boat which shes has never a missed a beat in 30 years.

(photo’s courtesy R & J Dance S.D.U.W.S.S. fb page)
for more info check out … https://www.facebook.com/starsdownunderwaterskiandstuntshowteam/

JAYA


This picture was taken by a boating journalist during an offshore race
outside Sydney some decades ago.
Picture shows the Gilflite built offshore boat JAYA run by Colin Pratt in
very big swells which were the remains of a major offshore storm.

Jaya built by D Gill circa 1968 in the original GILFILTE factory – Vinter Ave, Croydon Vic

From Racing Boats to Diplomat and Royal adviser Mr Colin Prat has enjoyed a colourful past and always lived life in the fast lane. Born in rural NSW during the great depression the interesting life that Colin Prat would map out for himself would have been hard to imagine at the time. This future saw him become a member of parliament, a friend to the Cambodian Prince and amongst many professions a business-man in the marine industry designing and developing products and personally setting world records for 6 litre engines.

Here’s his story on JAYA THE GILFLITE built offshore boat run by Colin Prat

This picture was taken by a boating journalist  during an offshore race
outside Sydney some decades ago.
Picture shows the Gilflite built offshore boat JAYA run by Colin Pratt in
very big swells which were the remains of a major offshore storm.
In this race the Carr brothers, Val and Paul, were killed in the new
“Cigarette” which had been imported from the USA by Val.
This boat was about 34 foot long and powered by twin Mercruiser sterndrives
giving a speed up to 80mph plus in good conditions.
In this race the boat powering at top speed, ran down a large swell and
slammed into the near vertical face of the preceding wave causing instant
deceleration.
The short Car brothers were both slammed, face and chest against the
instrument panel causing deadly injuries.
The mechanic being taller went over the bow with broken ribs.
Being undamaged the “Cigarette” was bought by Sydney car dealer Arnold Glass
who was also known for his smaller circuit race boats. He raced it offshore
for a few years before selling to Norm Jenkins who also raced it. Probably
still around.

Story by Colin Prat

Toolsafe

Toolsafe by GILFLITE

Designed to make doing business on the road  easier! Toolsafe solves your storage and security problems.

Toolsafe provides mobile storage solutions that take the hassle out of doing business on the road, giving you the tool to make more profit.  Toolsafe provides maximum storage space while securing your business equipment from theft.

This link will re-direct you to the Toolsafe web site

TRIBUTE – Chris Emmerson

12th July 2019
TRIBUTE to Mr Chris Emmerson – Stylist to GILFLITE.
It is with great sadness that we farewell ‘Chris Emmerson’ who passed away yesterday aged 76.
Chris Emmerson and David Gill worked together side by side for many years during the development phases of the range of GILFLITE boat models and some of our other products including the Toolsafe body. Chris started his career as a stylist at General Motors working on the original HQ Monaro design. In 1976 Chris began work with David contributing toward the general styling and graphics on the next model Javelin to be released; this was during the time when GILFLITE (David & Kevin Gill) brought out the Javelin Mk III. David had also just finished work on the new model GILFLITE Spitfire. Both GILFLITE models were put on show at the 1977 Melbourne Boat Show with raving reviews. Chris continued to work on most of the new model GILFLITEs with David up until just a few years ago. David’s research on boat design included trips to the U.S.A. where he took Chris with him to investigate design and building techniques. Together with combined engineering and styling expertise while anticipating the future of boating, they managed to break through the conventional design mould of older (pre determined) boat design expectation and plant the seed of what was to become the forerunner of every modern boat on the market today. The Freedom was released at the 1992 Melbourne Boat Show.
Always a jolly man….
Not only was Chris Emmerson intelligent, creative and a professional work colleague and one of the best stylists of our times he was also an entertainer as an excellent musician and songwriter, and importantly a friendly, well-mannered, kind and respectful gentle-man and a very good friend with a great sense of humour. We will miss his fantastic cartoons and brilliant Christmas Cards.
With our deepest respect and gratitude we celebrate the contribution Chris Emmerson has made to GILFLITE and we wish him peace as he now rests.

Powerboat Racing by Bob Carter

Miss-Chif II Hull built by David Gill GILFLITE photo by Bob Carter

As a young bright eyed teenager, I was hooked on powerboat racing and could be described as a tragic!  On Sundays when there was racing at Albert Park Lake, I would catch the train to Middle Park railway station to race across the park land to the lake for a day of inboard powerboat racing.  Armed with nothing more than a very basic camera and a single roll of black and white film, I managed to sneak into the pits and snap a few photos of the boats of the day.   Quite a bunch were David Gill built race boats.

Scrubcat IV was driven by the very popular and colourful driver, Jack Long.  Powered by a six cylinder flat head Dodge engine, Jack was a very successful competitor in the 266 side valve class.  (1969 pic)

Miss Chif II was another David Gill built skiff racing in the 266 side valve class.  Driven by Wally Cooper, this pristine racer was powered by a Ford engine with four down draught carbies.  (1973 pic)

B Pee – one of the new breed of rear mount runabouts, owner Ken Harris operated the BP service station on Bell Street Preston and raced as a member of the MRSBC.  Powered by a Chev Corvette with Duggan fuel injection, B Pee was a strong competitor in the 300 cu in class.  (1973 pic)

Bob Carter

SCRUBCAT, Miss-Chiff II and B Pee – photo’s by Bob Carter

Bob Carter has enjoyed a lifelong passion for powerboat racing and power boating.

His earliest recollection of boat racing is that of a very young lad at Edwards Park Lake and Exford Weir at Melton.  As a teenager he was a regular and enthusiastic spectator at Albert Park Lake.

Bob went on the become a contributor to PowerBoat magazine, then he was bestowed the title of the magazine’s Performance Boat Editor.

In the world of powerboat racing he has raced, been a photo journalist, publicist and promoter of power boat racing.   It’s a sport which has taken him all over Australia and internationally to Asia, the USA and New Zealand.

Now in his mid-60’s, Bob is still active within powerboat racing circles, covering the sport as photo journalist and contributing competition articles to Club Marine magazine.

HYDROPHOBIA

RACING BOAT HISTORY –

ALLEN BROWN’S (a.k.a. Brownie) HYDROPHOBIA – 6 cylinder Falcon engine

Story by Tricia Bailey (Brown) daughter of Allen Brown – owner/driver Hydrophobia

Circa 1975

Dad loved boat racing and as he was on a very tight budget he would do most of his mechanical repairs himself. He used to get me to come out and help, we’d spend the week nights out in the shed hovering over the boat.

I remember most of all when he would hold down the valve springs with a spanner and screwdriver.

And I would have to drop in the collets, and he would say don’t let them fly or we will never find them. I must admit, I did feel the pressure to ensure the engine was ready for the boat to be back on the water for another run on the weekend.

The boat leaked so bad he had to be the last one in the water and the first one out. And could not swim to save himself. Hence the name ‘Hydrophobia’.

Dad said that Hydrophobia was a terrible boat when he first got it, until David Gill worked on it. After that it was a great boat and fast!

COLOUR PHOTO – 3 BOATS: Dad said it was a handicap race and he won!

Allen Brown in Hydrophobia, the other two are John Lewis in Vulture, and Trevor Matthews in Assassin too.  (Handicap race at Albert Park Lake – Allen Brown/Hydrophobia won this race)! David Gill worked on all three of these boats

BLACK & WHITE PHOTO: Photo taken at Lake Eppalock by The Age photographer.

The black and white photo is Hydrophobia doing the kilo run (one boat on it’s own over a measured kilometer) at Lake Eppalock  and dad (Allen Brown – Hydrophobia) did 76mph. 

Ernie Nunn from Sydney and quite a few other blokes used to come to Lake Eppalock for the Kilo run because it was a very good lake for it.

Brownie said he was out on the water in Bennie Foxes runabout (as a crash boat) when Bob Saniga flipped Bayswater Bulk (timber hydro) doing 150mph, over a timed flying kilometer run (attempting to break the Australasian speed record which they already held with Stampede). David Gill was a scrutineer at this race.  Bob survived the crash.  Brownie & Bennie hooked onto Bayswater Bulk after it flipped but had to let go or the hydroplane would have pulled them under.  And down she went! The next day they salvaged the hydro.

Click on the photo’s below to enlarge

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Hydrophobia