Just a couple of weeks ago in Panama City, Fla., Tres Martin, the founder of the Performance Boat School that bears has name, taught powerboat driving techniques to one of the more highly educated, so to speak, groups to come through his classroom. Sent to Martin by Mercury Marine, the student body consisted of 15 engineers from various departments in the company. Now, they join the ranks of Performance Boat School graduates from the marine industry including Erik Christiansen and Mike Griffiths of Mercury Racing, as well as another group of Mercury Marine engineers that went through Martin’s program earlier this year.
Martin enjoyed the time he spent with the Mercury group, but now he’s looking forward to a couple of weeks of downtime. So for the rest the year, school is out for the world’s best-known powerboat driving instructor.
Tres Martin: “Sometimes, what it takes to get people into class is a close call.”
What do you see happening on the safety side of the go-fast powerboat world next year?
I think the Mike Fiore accident this year probably opened the eyes of a few people within the industry. I think we’re going to see more of the manufacturers becoming more safety oriented, like the guys at Octane Marine (read the story). Dave (Hemmingson) at DCB told me at Monster Bash in November that they are going to be putting their guys through the course next year. I think if buyers see manufacturers putting their employees through a safety course, they may see it as worthwhile themselves. But you are still going to have all those people who already think they know how to drive anything. Sometimes, what it takes to get people into class is a close call.
One of the things I really see beginning to happen is boat manufacturers not necessarily selling boats with the biggest power available. I strongly encourage that. I think it just begins to worry them. For me, it would be hard to sleep at night knowing there is a boat that runs maybe faster than it should with an owner who might go out there one day and make a mistake. I even know of some guys who recently bought boats, and when they looked at the insurance costs with ‘the biggest power’ they saw it was more than they wanted to deal with and went with less. So they pulled back on engines in favor of a more reasonable premium. At the end of the day, they realized how fast they’d still be going really, and decided it would be fast enough.
There are not many insurance companies that will cover something that will run over the 150-mph mark. You tell your insurance person your boat runs 170 mph and he’ll say, ‘Huh? I can’t insure you.’ There are only a few specialties companies that will insure you at that point, and it’s expensive. So kudos to the insurance companies for keeping things in check.