Peter Du Cane (boat designer)

Peter Du Cane CBE (1901–1984) was a Royal Navy commander and managing director of the engineering company Vospers. He assisted in the development of the Blue Bird II amongst other boats.


Du Cane was born in 1901, the son of Charles Henry Copely Du Cane, of Braxted Park. His paternal grandfather Sir Charles Du Cane was a politician and colonial administrator; his paternal grandmother Georgiana was the daughter of John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst.[1]

He joined the Royal Navy as a thirteen-year-old before resigning his commission as a Lieutenant-Commander in 1928.[2][3] The following year he joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force where he flew Westland Wapitis in No. 601 Squadron RAF.[3] Du Cane was invited by Glen Kidston to join him at Vosper Shipyard. Following Kidston's death and numerous ownership changes, Du Cane was offered the managing director's position. He accepted, while maintaining his position as Chief Designer.[2]

Under Du Cane's guidance, Vosper won a number of contracts for high-speed boats, including the construction of Blue Bird K4 which, piloted by Malcolm Campbell,[4] took the world water speed record in 1939.[5] Du Cane was awarded the Segrave Medal by the Royal Automobile Club that year for his efforts.[6] He also designed a high-speed torpedo boat, the MTB 102, 350 of which were procured by the Admiralty, and which were used extensively during the D-Day landings.[5] Du Cane was the naval architect and exterior designer of Brave Challenger, a super-yacht with a top speed of 60 knots (110 km/h; 69 mph),[7] and powerboats Tramontana and Tramontana II, the former winning in the inaugural Cowes–Torquay race in 1961.[8]

Later in his career, Du Cane joined the Fleet Air Arm.[3] In 1964, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[9]

Du Cane died on 31 October 1984, aged 83, and was buried at sea.[10]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Walker, Fred M. (30 May 2010). Ships and Shipbuilders: Pioneers of Design and Construction. Seaforth Publishing. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-84832-072-7.
  3. ^ a b c "Vosper boats for the services" (PDF). Flight. 16 January 1941. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  4. ^ Tremayne, David (3 January 2005). Donald Campbell: The Man Behind The Mask. Bantam. p. 120. ISBN 978-0553815115. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Vosper of Portsmouth". BAE Systems. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Past Winners". Royal Automobile Club. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Brave Challenger". Boat International. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  8. ^ Taylor, Mike. "Offshore powerboat racing history". Classic Boat. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood" (PDF). The London Gazette. 1 January 1964. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Reference: T/Z 151/93 (Monumental inscriptions at the parish church of All Saints, Great Braxted)". Essex Record Office. Retrieved 6 December 2017.