...going more than 200 mph.
"Like sitting in a fast cocktail shaker."
"The feeling is awesome. The horsepower is massive, thrilling-all 6,000 of it-packed into a 9,500-pound boat. Like riding a rocket.
"I'm throttleman on Miss Longlite, a 50' Mystic catamaran, and we were going for the record at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout that's held every autumn. It's a one-mile course and the lake has a lot of waves that reflect from the coves, so it can get relatively rough. We got into some vibrations so bad I couldn't see the gauges. But compared to other times it was pretty smooth. You're in a helmet with an intercom, but you still hear the wind rushing over the canopy. Quite a roar at 200-plus. Mainly, though, you hear the turbines' high-pitched whine. This event took a lot of trimming to get the attitude just right. The whole length of the course, I'm trimming. You don't just nail it and hold on. All through the run, we knew this one felt right, all dialed in. Perfect. I knew it was good but didn't know how good until our crew radioed us. We held the course record of 203 mph from a couple of years before. Our goal was 205, so clocking in at 208 was icing on the cake."
...a test boat driver.
"After eight hours you're a little punchy."
"At 29, I'm a former Coastie and have been testing boats with Mercury for three years. It's great when the weather's nice, when it's sunny and there's not a lot of wind blowing. But that's not too often.
"We've had a lot of rain recently, and that takes the fun out of it. This is definitely a strenuous job. We don't just go out there and drive a boat. For some tests, we have specific requests, the tech guys tell us the exact way they want us to run our boats. We're taking an active part in making these motors better, and you can see the improvements. For most tests, it's a four-hour cycle with four different sections to it. Other times we do wide open testing. We'll run six, eight, nine hours a day flat out. You take a beating from that. Even so, you have to pay a lot of attention to the test gear and gauges. But a lot of the time it's boring, sometimes it just gets old. You have to take the good with the bad. This job isn't for everybody. I've seen more than 30 people come and go. But it's better than sitting behind a desk and doing paperwork. Yup, when it's beautiful out and you're running fast, there's nothing better." ...a record-holding angler.
"It was like a gift from God."
"It's the most amazing feeling when you see that fish come up and you think, 'This time it could be the one; this could go in the books.'
"We had spent three hours casting with almost no action. I wasn't thinking much when I cast into this little back eddy, right along a dropoff. The fish must have been sitting there waiting for it. He jumped out 2', maybe 3' in the air, then dropped to about 20' deep and stayed there. The fight lasted about 45 minutes. When I got it up to the boat, the net was too small. So my brother Sean had to get his friend to hold on to his legs so he could cradle the fish with his arms. It was a huge rainbow trout, we measured it at 38". That's on 12-pound test line. The next day we brought it to a Safeway market. It was too heavy for their scales, so we took it to another store. When I saw the number, I couldn't believe it-33.3 pounds. If I had weighed it right out of the water, it would have been more. I had beat the old record by 3 pounds. It happened on July 8, 2006. I was born on July 10. That was one happy birthday."