Bumper Boat Passion
Call him John, Johnny or simply “J.T.”—by any name, John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine in Miami is arguably the most talented throttleman in offshore racing history and one of the most knowledgeable setup guys in the high-performance powerboat world. Kind and soft-spoken, Tomlinson, who founded TNT Custom Marine with partner Mike Thomas in 1984, has a work ethic and resume that just won’t quit.
From his multiple offshore racing world championships—most recently with the Performance Boat Center team—to his courageous Lake of the Ozarks Shootout performances during the years, Tomlinson has become legendary in the high-performance powerboating community. He’s forgotten more about setting up and driving go-fast boats from the likes of Skater and MTI than most people will ever know.
And yet he’s never owned a model from either of those two venerable catamaran builders.
“I can’t afford them,” he said, then chuckled. “So I’ve never had one of my own.”
But Tomlinson has owned several Airship RIBs such as the new 33-footer powered by twin Mercury Marine Verado 300 outboard engines. His company currently lists them at $199,000. And while he currently doesn’t have one tied up at the dock in front of his home, he likely will again as the rigid inflatable boats—essentially fiberglass running surfaces fitted with forgiving inflatable hull sides/collars—appeal to him on many levels, not the least of which is price…