Classic Boat: when Renato Sonny Levi broke the speed record with the Arcidiavolo


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Arcidiavolo II
Arcidiavolo ii

A record that lasts only a few days, however it may be, is a record. But it is not so much the speed that matters here as the foresight and innovation behind the design: a bolide in a Y-shaped Ram Wing configuration, that is, with an “inverted tricycle” h ull, with two forward hulls and a central aft one to house the propulsion, here with surface propellers. In short, the Arcidiavolol was a small masterpiece, a turbulent and unfortunate masterpiece, but still a masterpiece. And no one will be able to deny the genius after that Class 2 speed record of August 20, 1976: 67.694 knots.

When Renato Sonny Levi broke the speed record with Arcidiavolo

The history of the Archdevil, however, begins well before 1976 and, indeed, begins with another Archdevil. A boat that has nothing to do with the record boat, were it not for the owner and for being the hull that sparked a passion. It was 1972, in fact, when Giorgio Tognelli participated in his first offshore regatta, and then took a liking to it and ended up winning the entire circuit, becoming Italian offshore C2 Class champion. Hence, the idea of running in earnest, a trip to Cowes, to see the Cowes – Torquay, 200-mile race in the English Channel, and meeting Levi. The rest, as they say, is history.

Arcidiavolo II
Arcidiavolo II – The Y-shaped hull on display

The first attempts

The first Arcidiavolo was designed and launched in 1973, bearing the same name as the previous hull, the one from which it all originated. The bet was one, simple: do something fast, but do it different, try new ways. Levi, after all, was young and promising, on the crest of a wave after designing the Italcraft Drago, the first boat to break through 55 knots, the first with surface propellers (we tell you about it HERE), and had insights outside the box. The “pitch” was short, concise: an OP2-class boat was needed, i.e., non-cabin and capable of doing 60 knots even in rough sea conditions. The engine was to be a 400 HP BPM Vulcan, theoretically less prone to failure given the absence of an external foot.

Italcraft Dragon
The Italcraft Drago designed by Levi and unveiled in 1972

Thus was born the Archdevil I, a hull with a Y-shaped Ram Wing geometric configuration, an inverted tricycle hull, in short, and step drive transmission with a surface propeller, the latter inspired by the experience tested on theItalcraft Drago. The multi-hull geometry was a peculiar choice, but dictated by the single mid-engine whose torque could have created problems.

Arcidiavolo II

Basically, the boat was structured as follows: the central hull was intended to be the nacelle housing the engine, pilot, and navigator; the two side hulls, on the other hand, were intended for the tanks, ballast tanks, and flaps, except later realizing that the latter two, flaps and ballast, were superfluous on a hull of such a configuration.

Arcidiavolo I - View of the Y-shaped hull
Arcidiavolo I – View of the Y-shaped hull

In terms of water lines, a step was present on both laterals, indicative of where they touched the water once at speed. Obviously there were two other points, a third aft support, the transom, and then of course the propeller. It was made of marine plywood, weighed 3.5 tons and was 10 meters long split: it was the world’s first trimaran in terms of length and propulsion system.

Arcidiavolo I - Archival shot of the construction
Arcidiavolo I – Archival shot of the construction

However, the first trials on the water were disappointing; the boat did not glide. Revised the design and increased the propeller blades obvious the problem, but bad luck kissed the design, which continued to underperform. Various problems continued, propellers bending under pressure, broken propellers, axle problems. In short, it was a long way to make Archdevil I the fastest boat in its class, but even when it came to be, at 45 knots, it still fell short of expectations, although its seaworthiness was excellent. It was too heavy a hull and too much pressure for that. Undeterred, Giorgio Tognelli decided to have a second one made, and Levi set to work.

Arcidiavolo II – The record project

In 1975, Arcidiavolo II is launched. It weighs one ton less (2.5 t now), has 500 horsepower instead of 400, and is one meter longer. The configuration was still the same, Y-shaped Ram Wing. However, the design was more streamlined, with a 30-centimeter lower profile and more pleasing lines. However, the pilots were now more prone, while the engine was aft of the central body, with the tanks divided into three rather than two, with the third, smaller one in the rear nacelle. It improved, at the same time, the aerodynamics of the complex, while the four steps in the water were unchanged. Archdevil

In terms of performance and seaworthiness the boat was a marvel, but the 1975 season was marked by a large number of retirements. The BPM engine was giving more problems than anything else, undermining a design that was top-notch in performance. With the end of ’75 changed the powertrain, now American, with 160 more horsepower than the previous one. Archdevil II finally reached the much-needed 60 knots.

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Despite the improvements, the 1976 season opened with a series of failures until the a Grand Prix of Rome, with the class victory achieved on the 189-mile course, starting and finishing in Civitavecchia. Instead, the absolute result was a second. The result thus granted that the application for the speed record could be made official. The rest is well known: on August 20, 1976, in the waters of Sarnico, on the first attempt, Arcidiavolo II averaged 125.447 km/h, or 67.964 knots. It was record.

Arcidiavolo II – Diploma of the modnial speed record in Class OP2

The following season was again full of bitterness, however, and Tognelli decided it was okay. Arcidiavolo was converted to a pleasure boat. Thus, the exploits remain, but more importantly, the demonstration of a sound design, a type of hull that was superlative in so many ways, devastated only by the unreliability of on-board technology and technology.

Arcidiavolo II – Appeared this way once transformed into a pleasure boat.

Arcidiavolo – Technical Specs

Date Archdevil I Archdevil II
Length Over All (LOA) 10,00 m 10,50 m
Length at waterline (LOH) 7 m 7 m
Baglio Massimo (B.max) 2,50 m 2,50 m
Dive 0,50 0,45 m
Displacement 3,5 t 2,5 t
Motorization BPM 400 hp Vulcan 500 hp

then changed for a 660 hp

Propulsion Axis line Axis line
Maximum Speed 45 kn 67.694 kn
Year 1973 1975
Designer Renato Sonny Levi Renato Sonny Levi

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