Sailing Cars


"would personally ensure that the girl showered every day before the river crossing attempt"

He did appeal to our Royal family – enlisting Prince Philip’s help when British Waterways tried to stop him shooting a girl over the River Avon from the cannon – he assured Prince Phillip that he wouldn’t dream of polluting the river, and would personally ensure that the girl showered every day before the river crossing attempt. This annual show relied on unique ways of crossing the river – British Waterways got even more upset when one year, having run out of things to jump the river, Joe bought ten scrap cars at Evesham car auctions, removed their engines, wrapped them in cling film and towed them down the river to the Showground at Tewkesbury, which took three weeks and generated lots of publicity. Every car and the floating jumping ramp were licenced as boats, so no laws were broken, but when licencing a boat in that area, you will probably be asked now if it’s a boat or a car.

With the press and public watching from the main town bridge, having narrowly missed being washed over the weir, the current took the last two cars at the end of the rope faster than the tow boat, and wrapped themselves around the bridge parapet. (The name of the Show and the dates were of course written in big letters across the rooves of the cars, so they had to be got back in the right order, and no-one could cover the drama without advertising the show). They continued down river with a motobird on each car roof to try to control the progress. After several rows with fishermen, (who were not amused when one of the cars sank in the middle of their fishing match, and the crane driver pulling it out of the river, placed a loaf of bread on his crane hook and claimed first prize as he pulled out a car full of fish] it was decided to enlist the help of boaters in towing the cars – there is now a local byelaw and a paragraph on rental agreements that holidaymakers may not tow cars down the river. Despite Waterways attempts to stop the stunt, (the fair rides chained themselves to the cars and we had 24 hour security to stop the Navy who were sent to try to tow them away) – the speed boat with the enormous engine, having somersaulted in the river on press day, successfully jumped the floating cars in front of sell out crowds at the Show. British Waterways, having been bombarded by letters from fans, MPs etc, and having seen that all the stunts were carried out safely and professionally, with divers, cranes and rescue boats in attendance, decided to give Joe permission and help to do whatever stunts he wanted over the river the next year, but as this meant no publicity, Joe has not been back.

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