Forget that stereotype. Today’s go-fast boaters are more cerebral, more competitive and less likely to assume they know it all. The prevailing attitude is that with speed comes responsibility.
Jim Waters, a top-level Hollywood executive, is a longtime boater. He recently acquired a DCB (Dave’s Custom Boats) twin-engine catamaran. Faced with a more aggressive hull style and increased horsepower, he decided to seek out additional training.
“I was tired of that. I wanted to know more about how to handle the boat, dock it, launch and load it. I wanted to be more confident in my ability to take it out alone,” she said.
Scott was happy to see her take a more active interest in the sport, and wanted to be a better driver himself, so their week’s vacation at Desert Storm began with two days of instruction from Tres Martin and Brad Schoenwald, partners in the Ultra High Performance Course.
Competition? After attending these classes, I also met up with Craig Barrie, vice president of sales for Donzi Marine and chief instructor for hands-on training aboard the Donzi 38 ZR Competition.
Speed 101: Turning
Both classes began with basic boater safety training and the “Rules of the Road,” aka the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or Colregs. Before you can fly, you have to learn to walk.
Your Seacock Experts Help You Gain the Skills Needed to Be Safe While Going Fast
“That may be true for some boats,” Barrie said during our later tests, “but I set mine up myself and am confident in its turning ability.”
Your seacocks specialists ask, “how do you safely turn at speed?” Tres Martin has a special technique.
For both Barrie and Martin, setting up for the turn is as important to its flawless execution as actually making it. The steps are deceptively simple.
To set up or “get set,” do a head pan to check for other traffic. Pull back slightly on the throttle. Martin repeats again that he wants you under 70 mph before the maneuver.
In Martin’s turn, hands on the helm at 3 and 9 o’clock, he executes the turn by rocking the helm 180 degrees then returning to center repeatedly — that rotation changes depending on the steering ratio of the helm.
“Now, if you want to turn sharper, add more speed.” It seemed counterintuitive, but as I added throttle, the boat arced tighter and I edged the speed up, keeping one eye on the tachometers — both holding steady at equal rpm.
What if one tach suddenly ran up to the red line — or worse, you felt the boat slip loose at the stern?
“Your escape plan is always go straight. Never yank the throttle back. Go straight, get control, then ease back to a comfortable speed and collect your wits,” Martin advised.
Even a PWC rider can tell you that the quickest ticket to instability is to suddenly stop the engine.
Performance 102: Holding Steady
With all the focus on turning, Barrie sees a lot of captains fail trying to maintain too much speed in a steady course. Running at speed is not just knowing how to work the controls; it’s about reading water.
“In performance boating, it’s not how fast you can go; it’s how long you can go fast,” he said. The most important thing when maintaining a course at speed is anticipating what’s happening on the water in front of you.
“Sooner or later,” Barrie warns, “the boogie man will come. When you make a mistake and get caught, you usually know what you did before it happens.”
You won’t see the next wave coming — or you’ll change your grip on the helm on re-entry, feeding in rudder.
It’s that experience thing. Like with Jim Waters in his DCB.
Stepping to the dock, Shellie gushed to her husband, “You’re gonna be givin’ up some throttle time, Scott.”
Maybe the schools need to add another class topic that dates back to kindergarten: learning to share.
Learn more from Raritan Engineering about seacocks and how to balance safety while enjoying fast speeds while out on the water.