26th April 1964
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials

Condor Ferries might not have been the only company to run hydrofoils in the English Channel, but it did have one of the largest fleets. Its Condor 1 through Condor 5, plus Condor 7 were all hydrofoil craft. The odd one out was Condor 6, which was a catamaran.

The first craft, built in Sicily, entered service on 1 May 1964. Less than a week earlier, it was going through its paces in a series of rigorous sea trials by Captain Robinson.

Rough demonstrations

Publicity runs carrying newspaper, television and radio reporters between Guernsey and Jersey had been particularly rough. However, Condor 1 was said to be impossible to capsize because of its skids. It was unsinkable, too, as the space between the hulls was filled with polystyrene. This was enough to keep it on top of the water, even if all of the internal compartments flooded.

The diesel-powered Condor 1 was capable of a top speed of 45mph. It would carry a maximum of 140 passengers between Guernsey, Jersey and St Malo. The Jersey to France crossing took around an hour. Guernsey to Jersey, if everything went according to the timetable, took 35 minutes.

Condor promoted the service largely on the benefits of its high-speed, claiming that “Condor gives you more time for your money than any other form of transport”. It described the craft itself as a “luxury get-up and go hydrofoil”.

There were plans to extend the service to other Channel Islands, including Alderney and Sark, if there was sufficient demand.

Early hydrofoils

The first hydrofoil to cross the Channel went not from the Channel Islands to France, but from Calais to Dover. Named Shadowfax after a mythical flying horse ridden by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, it had two gas turbines, three crew and a passenger compartment with room for 50.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

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