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Tres Martin’s Safety Corner: Five Poker Run Essentials

With the largest wave of the largest poker run of the year headed from Miami to Key West tomorrow in the Florida Powerboat Club‘s annual Key West Poker Run, we thought it would be a good time to revisit some basics from Tres Martin, the founder of the noted Performance Boat School that bears his name. Without question, you’ve heard all of this before. Without question, it’s worth hearing again.


Whether you’re running a big catamaran or a small V-bottom, your top priority in any poker run is to reach your destination safely. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

Zero Tolerance for Influence—” With all the skills that need to be ready at hand and all that is going on around you when you’re out on the water, there is no margin for error. You need all of your faculties and skills as good as they can possibly be, and any alcohol compromises those skills. You want to be at your very best—at your highest level—when you’re operating a performance boat, or any boat for that matter.”

Dress For Success— “I don’t care if it’s a boat that only goes 40 or 50 mph, if I’m getting in it I’m wearing my jacket. I have been thrown out of boats. I know the importance of a jacket.”

Dial Out Distraction— “You have to be focused on everything at hand. You need to be driving defensively. What is boat is driving next to you going to do? Check out the group of personal watercraft over there. What do you think they are going to do?”

Cross Wakes With Lots of Space—”When you’re crossing boat wakes, you must have a safe following distance to begin with—that’s essential. A lot people don’t realize this, but the water immediately behind a boat, because of the way it is being displaced, is higher than it is outside the boat. The boat’s propellers aerate the water, which also makes it higher, and they create a direct thrust current that’s coming right at you and can really upset whatever platform, catamaran or V-bottom, you’re in. The farther back you are, the more forgiving and comfortable crossing boat wakes is going to be.”

Trim Conservatively for Rough Water— “When I train drivers for the Navy, I tell them, ‘The best operator is the one whose boat exits the water the least.’ That means he chose a speed and trim level that will allow the nose of the boat to divide and displace the water and keep from damaging the boat’s drive train and occupants.”

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