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High School Marine Studies Program Uses Key West Worlds for Teaching Purposes

For nearly a decade, Chris Catlett, who runs the marine studies program at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier, Fla., has taken his students on a field trip to the Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships. Yesterday, for the first day of competition at the 34th annual event, Catlett did the same thing, bringing 90 high school students into the race pits with VIP access to watch the races and visit with the teams.

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Talk about a field trip of dreams. Students from Coral Shores High School enjoyed the day at the 34th annual SBI Key West Offshore World Championships yesterday. Photos courtesy Chief Performance owner Tommy Hofstetter (pictured at right).

“Our program is the only marine tech or vocational program in the Keys,” said Catlett, who approached SBI President John Carbonell about bringing students to the races nine years ago when there two other programs like his in the Florida Keys. “I bring the students to the races every year on Wednesday—Carbonell and First State Bank host us and feel like it’s a fantastic idea because the kids get to see the latest in marine technology. While they’re here, they can understand what a surface drive is and the see the hull differences. Everything about these boats is cutting edge so it’s a good learning platform for them.”

Whether it’s asking why teams use staggered engines configurations vs. side-by-side setups or understanding how propeller selection can dictate performance, Catlett said the event teaches the students some of the finer points because they get to see everything up close and personal.

“There’s nothing like one of these motors firing up to get their attention,” Catlett added. “The kids have an assignment while they’re here. They have to go to five teams, identify the hull, drive type, engine type and how many, who drives it and if they’ll tell you what kind of props they’re running and why it’s so secretive and that kind of stuff. This shows them that the marine mechanics field is more than just sportfishing boats and flat skiffs. A lot of these kids get boats before they get cars down here—that’s why so many of them are into this.”

Check out the slideshow above for a few more images from the field trip.

Catlett said when he approached Carbonell originally that he asked for some discounted tickets for the kids. Carbonell told Catlett he’d do him one better and provide VIP tickets and feed the kids lunch.

According to Catlett the kids had a great time at the event this year. One notable student in the program is Blye Hofstetter, son of engine builder Tommy Hofstetter who owns Chief Performance in Fort Lauderdale.

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