High-speed boating brings many people an adrenaline rush they crave. Our TNT team cares about the safety of our current and future customers who enjoy this exciting hobby. Having some knowledge of performance boating prior to hitting the water could make a world of difference to your overall experience. For tips to ensure you and your loved ones have a positive and safe experience, continue reading below!
Many of us with a keen interest in powerboat design are also attracted to the exhilarating experience of high-speed boat driving. Your boat might be capable of going faster than your skills can safely guide it, so here are some tips to consider if you’re intending to push your rig to the limit!
Getting safe for going fast
My racing experiences have taught me that knowing you have a safe and secure hull set-up can actually help you drive confidently at high speed. Buckle your life jacket and always connect your kill cord. Rig your boat with solid engine mounts and secure steering systems. Use wheel-mounted trim switches and a foot throttle for the best ‘hands-on’ driving control.
Tip 1: Safe steering
Secure steering without slack is a necessity for good control and reduced boat wobble – especially on vee-bottom hulls. Mechanical steering systems provide good driving ‘feedback’ but can develop backlash or ‘sloppiness’. Dual (twin) cable steering allows for adjustment to remove backlash, engine flutter and the resulting handling instability. Hydraulic steering provides a more direct control and better driving comfort but doesn’t offer as much torque feedback.
Tip 2: Weight distribution
When driving at high speeds, the balance of weight in your hull can improve stability. If fuel load, fish wells, batteries, etc. are not equalised from side to side, your boat can be out of balance. If your boat is set up for side-by-side passenger seating, when you’re out alone there is a potential lateral imbalance that can cause unsafe handling when turning or in cross waves. Adding weight to the passenger side can help this situation by equalising weight distribution.
Tip 3: ‘Seat time’ – get to know your boat
Perhaps this sounds obvious, but as you’re learning to drive your boat at high speeds, you should ‘take it slow’ at first. The best learning experience is to get ‘seat time’ at relatively low speeds in smaller boats, progressing to higher speeds and bigger boats. There’s a lot going on when driving a boat at high speed, and newcomers may experience sensory overload that can reduce reaction times. If you’re buying your first go-fast boat, get some instruction from a proficient operator first, preferably in your own boat.
Tip 4: Get planing
We can’t get to any fast speeds until we get the boat planing. Often getting up on the plane can take some practice. This phase can be different depending on weight load and water conditions.
Tip 5: Propeller Slip
Getting the propeller to ‘bite’, without too much slip or cavitation, is best accomplished by starting with only a little trim – sometimes negative trim – to help control the boat’s tendency for ‘bow-up’ attitude. As more throttle is applied, the boat will naturally come onto the plane and flatten its attitude. Sometimes, particularly with vee-pad hulls, the boat can lean to one (usually port) side as it settles on the plane. Slightly more positive trim can change the propeller thrust angle, reduce gearcase drag and the boat will straighten itself out. At slower and mid-range speeds, lower trim settings will result in a smoother ride and better fuel efficiency.
Tip 6: Engine height
If your rig has a power jack plate, it can be helpful to lower the engine height when low- or mid-speed cruising. This setting can lead to more efficient performance, better fuel economy and a smoother ride.
Tip 7: Porpoising
A ‘bouncing’ or porpoising motion can often occur at a velocity where the hull dynamic lift and drag forces are changing – such as just after achieving planing or when a vee-pad hull transitions to the pad-lift stage. If a boat is porpoising at a given speed and load, lowering the trim angle will reduce or eliminate the porpoising.