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How To Boat Safely at Any Speed
Marc Granet (left) and Scotty Begovich (right) have won multiple World Championships, and understand the importance of boating safely at any speed.
As we climb back onto plane, with other boats in front of us and on the other side of the channel, Granet again refers to that center-console that evaded the cruiser.
“He got out of it by accelerating and turning slightly,” he says. “If you turn the wheel sharply or pull back the throttles, you can find yourself in a worse position.”
When you chop the throttles, you change the center of gravity (CG) and the axis that the boat is running on. If you do it instantly, the people on the boat fly forward. So does the fuel in the tanks. The bow goes forward and down; the transom lifts up. You can change the way a boat handles and hurt people on board.
Turning the wheel hard-over at high speeds can have the same effect, throwing off the boat’s CG and knocking around passengers. Also, the boat could catch on a chine or the props could lose their bite and cause the boat to spin out. It’s better, if at all possible, to make gradual turns.
In races, Granet and his throttleman Begovich try to avoid drastic maneuvers by anticipating everything around them. “Our boat at speed runs a football field per second. I’m looking at the next football field ahead,” Begovich tells me. Granet is always planning the next turn well before he moves the wheel.
He does the same thing when he’s taking his family out on the weekend. “I’m always figuring out what the wake is doing from a boat that passed 20 seconds before,” he says. “What’s that jet-skier doing? Where is the boat pulling a tuber going to turn?” As a world record driver, situational awareness might be his most important trait.
“Most experienced captains have it,” he adds. “As they approach an inlet, they’ve already formulated what the waves are doing, whether that sailboat in front is under power, and that there’s a boat easing up on the starboard side — they’ve already anticipated where they need to be and what they need to do.”
We jump back up to 80 mph as channel markers whizz by in a blur and boats on plane look like they’re standing still. I’m at ease knowing Granet is a man with a plan.