Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Your High Performance Boat is Not a Toy

If you've never owned a high-performance boat before, you probably spend a lot of time dreaming of smooth, high speed runs down a sunny lake, sitting at the docks with your friends soaking up the sun, or roaring down the bay with other boaters in a thrilling poker run. Eventually you might get that boat - and then reality sets in.

The lakes and bays aren't always smooth--or they may not stay that way for long. Or, you find the speed exciting, but also a little bit unsettling...because it's an unfamiliar feeling and you're not quite sure what the boat will do next. You also might find launching and docking to be more of a challenge than you expected -- especially if you're alone, and your boat is fairly large. This was my own experience - and I'm sure it's not that uncommon. The question is, what can you do about it?

Most experienced boaters will tell you that there's just no substitute for "seat time" -- just getting in the boat, seeing how it reacts to various situations and conditions, and seeing how you react as well. I've found my own docking skills are getting better with practice, and your confidence should grow as well. But there is a good way to accelerate your improvement and increase your skill--and that is to take a performance boating training course.

Tres Martin's Performance Boat School is probably the best known of these programs, and any graduate will tell you that the tuition is money well spent in terms of boosting your confidence and safety behind the wheel of your boat. Instructors Tres Martin and Brad Schoenwald will help you understand how your boat will react in various situations, show you the proper techniques for maximum control and safety, and get you behind the wheel for practical, hands-on training. They offer two basic courses:

Performance Boat Course
Designed for single engine catamaran and V bottom boats running less than 75 mph, this course teaches you hull design, how steps work, proper trim and tab positions, turning techniques, recovery techniques, defensive driving, safety equipment, docking, trailering, maintenance, trip pre-check, safe following distance, places you cannot turn and how to handle all water conditions at speed. It's a full day course with on water skill based training.

Ultra High performance Course
This is the gold standard of performance boating course, where you are personally guided through advance skill training and terminal performance objectives required to safely operate faster boats. Designed for multi step V Hull and Catamarans that operate at speeds above 75MPH, this course covers safety issues, step hull v bottom design, cat hull design, trim settings and tab settings for all water conditions, places you can not turn, tab abuse, new five step turning protocol, recovery techniques, docking, maintenance, trailering, defensive driving maneuvers. A one and half day course with on water skill based training, it really is a must have course for ultra high speed performance boats.

PHOTO CREDITS: Tres Martin's Performance Boat School

The standard price for the Performance Boat Course is $1500; the Ultra High Performance Course is $2500. That might seem like a lot, but you get hands-on training by experienced pros that could actually save your life or protect your boat from serious harm. After every course, each graduating student is given a certificate of completion, and this certification is recognized or required by major insurance companies in the US. Not only will you be a safer and more confident boater, it's reasonable to expect that your improved skills will allow you to enjoy every trip out on the water a lot more. There's still time to enroll in a course this summer - remaining dates are:

July 2-3 Long Beach CA.
July 8-9 Thousands Island NY
July 16-17 Chicago

July 23-24 Toledo OH

To find out more about the course and the school, head over to

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