Putting The Band Back Together

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For four members of the former Powerboat magazine test team, the last week’s Miami International Boat Show was a reunion of sorts. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix. (https://www.facebook.com/Shoot-2-Thrill-Pix-130528070292399/)

For four members of the former Powerboat magazine test team, the last week’s Miami International Boat Show was a reunion of sorts.
Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Between advance and real-time reporting, Jason Johnson, my colleague at speedonthewater.com and I wrote and published 40 stories related to the 2017 Miami International Boat Show, which closed Monday afternoon. The first piece went live on December 16 and the last one went live yesterday. It was a ton of work, for sure, but it also was a ton of fun. We’re blessed to love what we do for a living.

But this year was special, and not just because the new products were particularly cool and that our reporting was the most extensive it’s ever been. This year, the Miami Boat Show was a reunion of sorts, and one we will cherish forever. Last Thursday and Friday morning, we reunited with Bob Teague and John Tomlinson, our former colleagues and boat testing teammates at Powerboat magazine, to run the new Skater 478 and Predator 447 high-performance V-bottoms, as well as a Formula 350 Sun Sport powered by a pair of new Ilmor Marine 483-hp 7.4-liter LS-based engines. The features on those boats, complete with comments from Teague and Tomlinson, will run in our next digital magazine. (Look for that issue to go live at the end of the month.)

For the record, we have zero interest in getting back into the full-time “boat testing” editorial game. And I do mean zero. Producing magazines — even of the digital kind — packed with boat reviews — is the last thing we want to do. (We’ll leave that to our good friends at Speedboat magazine.)

But we did exactly that for years with Teague and Tomlinson as our test drivers at Powerboat magazine. So when we needed expert opinions from the best test drivers in the business we knew exactly who to ask. And they were more than happy to help.

Running the boats was a blast, of course, but it was far from the best part of our time together. That real treat was how immediately comfortable we were working with one another again, how quickly the merciless banter and good-natured insults began to flow, how easily the boat testing “war stories” resurfaced.

Teague and I recalled our scariest test — that of a 25-foot Eliminator Daytona catamaran that topped out at 144 mph on the Colorado River — in the more than 1,000 boats we ran together. And that led us to the story of the time Tomlinson (driving), Teague (throttling) and I (sitting on the rear bench hanging onto a radar gun with one hand and a grab handle with the other for dear life) had to turn a 44-foot Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran hard at 130-plus mph when a sneaky Sarasota Bay sandbar caught us by surprise.

“I remember saying, ‘Johnny, you see the sandbar, right?’” Teague said, as he recalled the event, through fits of laughter. “And he said, ‘Yeah Bob, I got it, I got it.’ But he was looking at the sandbar way ahead of us, not the one right in front of us, not the one I was warning him about.”

“When we slowed down after the turn, Johnny just looked at me,” Teague added. “He said, ‘That’s the hardest I’ve ever turned a cat in my life.’”

We all laughed at that one.

There was no such drama in Miami last week. We ran all three boats without anything close to an incident and had a great time together on the water. It’s amazing how quickly old friends and co-workers can fall back into their once-comfortable routines and just get on with the business at hand. But for Johnson and I, working closely again with two guys we had trusted with our lives more times than we could remember was far and away the best part of the 2017 Miami International Boat Show.

Because as exciting as reporting on new products can be, it doesn’t even come close to spending quality time with old friends.

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Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.

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