While details are still coming in, media outlets in Italy are reporting the death of legendary high-performance marine industry innovator and accomplished offshore endurance racer Fabio Buzzi. According to a news story published today in la Nuova di Venezia e Mestre, the 76-year-old Italian and two other passengers—Luca Nicolini and Eric Hoorn—died when their vessel struck a dam after 9 p.m. this evening while attempting to establish a new Montecarlo to Venezia record. A fourth crewmember, Italy’s Mario Invernizzi, was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Buzzi was the founder of Italy-based FB Design Group, which specialized in creating high-performance Rigid Hull Inflatable vessels from 10 to 55 feet long. According to the company’s website, he was born in Lecco, Italy, in 1943 and was a “descendent from a family tied for centuries to the art of building and design.”
Buzzi graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnical University of Turin in 1971 and founded FB Design Group 12 years later.
From the company’s website:
• Buzzi began his offshore racing career in 1978, when he won the Italian and European Class 3 Championships. The following year he set the world speed record for diesel boats using a VM engine at a top speed of 191.58 km/h.
• In 1986 he designed the Seatek engine, founding the company to produce high-performance diesel engines.
• FB Design boats have won a total of 52 world championships, the Harmsworth Trophy seven times and have set 40 world speed records. Buzzi himself won 10 world championships.
John Cosker, the founder of Mystic Powerboats in DeLand, Fla., worked with Buzzi from 1991 to 1996. (Cosker founded Mystic the following year.)
“I learned more about designing and building boats from Fabio Buzzi than anyone else in the world,” he said. “I started working with him when I was at Rolla Propellers. He would send over his RIB boats like La Gran Argentina and we would prep them to race.
“He could design, build and race boats,” he continued. “There aren’t many people like that around anymore. He knew more about designing boats than anyone I have ever met.”
“A kind man, brilliant engineer and a determined competitor has left us,” said Fred Kiekhaefer, the former president of Mercury Racing in Fond du Lac, Wis. “We were close friends—except on race day when we were opposing gladiators.
“The ‘Green Parrot’ will be lonely,” Kiekhaefer continued. “We will miss you. Fabio, my friend, God speed in this, your final and most important race.”
Said mutli-time offshore racing veteran and TNT Custom Marine co-owner John Tomlinson, “Buzzi was definitely an innovator and a very cool guy. The two fastest boats I have ever driven had Buzzi drives. I ran one turbine-powered MTI cat to 211 mph and Dave Scott’s Nauti-Marine Mystic cat to 218 mph, and both had his drives.”
Editor’s note: This story is still developing. Look for more updates on speedonthewater.com as they become available.