Famed offshore powerboat racer Fabio Buzzi and two others died in a crash late Tuesday night attempting to break the record from Monte Carlo to Venice, authorities said.
Giampaolo Montavoci, president of the Italian Offshore and Endurance Committee, confirmed the death of the 76-year-old Buzzi’s death and the two other fatalities. The lone survivor of the crash, Mario Invernizzi, was in serious condition and being treated at an area hospital.
According to various media reports, Buzzi died when his boat hit an artificial reef near the finish line at Lido di Venezia as he was trying to break the record he had previously set. The crash also claimed the life of Italian offshore racer Luca Nicolini and a Dutch mechanic, who has not been identified.
Authorities say the boat was running about 90 mph when they hit a manmade dam. The large boulders had been lowered on to the seabed to protect the dam that serves as a flood barrier to Venice.
“The boat took off and flew 30 metres (98 feet) through the air, landing on its stern on the other side of the causeway where the victims died on impact,” an official at Venice’s port authority told Venezia Today.
Authorities speculate that Buzzi may have misjudged how much space they had when entering the lagoon.
Buzzi’s impact on the high-performance boating during his career has been immense. A 10-time world powerboat champion, Buzzi founded FB Design in Milan, Italy, in 1971. His FB Design boats won 52 world championships, seven Harmsworth Trophy and 40 world speed records, many of which Buzzi set himself.
The famed racer raised his profile in the U.S. in the early 2000s when he dominated the Superboat class in La Gran Argentina. Buzzi and driver Daniel Scioli ran the V-bottom powered by four Seatek diesel engines to three Superboat International World Championships.
Buzzi’s FB Design built both pleasure and military boats from the factory about 40 miles outside of Milan. Buzzi, who was a mechanical engineer, would come up with new boat designs and use offshore racing to stress test the model.
Condolences poured in from around the world when news started to break about the accident.
John Cosker, owner and founder of Mystic Powerboats, posted on Facebook, “I had the privilege of working for Fabio very early in my career. I met him for the first time at the Genoa boat show and was immediately hooked and fascinated. I had never met anyone so intelligent and full of knowledge who could explain things in layman’s terms while having enough personality for ten men.
“He was the most accomplished designer, builder, and racer who has ever walked the earth all rolled up in one of the most outrageous personalities I have ever had the absolute pleasure of knowing.”
Reggie Fountain, founder of Fountain Powerboats, told Soundings Trade Only he worked with Buzzi on bottoms designs and other products. “He was easy to work with,” Fountain told the publication. “I was smart enough to know how smart he was and I didn’t argue with him.”