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HomeMattBlogCommentary: H20 Full Throttle Pulls the Plug for 2010—Why It Matters

Commentary: H20 Full Throttle Pulls the Plug for 2010—Why It Matters

Last week, I received a message from Ned Dawson, the publisher of H20 Full Throttle magazine, a high-performance powerboat title based in New Zealand but distributed internationally. In the light of the current state of the high-performance powerboat market in the United States and abroad, Dawson, who publishes several other titles including helicopter magazine leader HeliOps and a new automobile-racing magazine called P1, said he has decided to suspend publishing H20 Full Throttle for the rest of the year.

Though not a surprise, Dawson’s announcement cannot be seen as anything other than sad news for performance-boat enthusiasts. H20 Full Throttle, which primarily covered powerboat racing but also delved into the recreational go-fast boat world, was visually stunning. Its production values, from photo quality and layout to print stock, were top flight. Although the magazine published somewhat irregularly, it was something I looked forward to as a contributor and as a reader.

So why does it matter? Because performance-boat magazines are getting a whole lot fewer and farther between, not to mention thinner when they actually arrive in your mailbox. Go-fast boat titles including Powerboat and Performance Boats have reduced their frequency, while others such as Hot Boat, which was published for decades, and Extreme Boats have simply disappeared.

I love the online world and, yes, a lot of marine content is headed in a digital direction. I love the immediacy of it—getting out today’s story today is a joy and, frankly, a bit of an adrenaline rush. My daily posts on speedonthewater.com are a blast to compile and write. (OK, I have a strange relationship with deadline pressure.)

But the fact is, at least for me as a reader, holding a printed magazine in your hands is an experience that cannot be replicated on a computer screen.  Reading your favorite departments and features first, then stepping away for a couple of days before you go back to read the ones that interested you least, before you finally put the magazine on a ridiculously tall and teetering stack? That’s good stuff.

If you’re a reader, reading experiences don’t get any better than that. And sadly, one more of those experiences—at least for 2010—is gone.