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Old 06-03-2002, 01:47 PM
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The Philadelphia Inquirer

Powerboaters' rally puts safety on display
By Dwight Ott Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted on Sun, Jun. 02, 2002

ATLANTIC CITY - Leaning forward, Dave Patnaude grabbed a handle of the 42-foot boat as it cruised offshore, spotting for the driver.

"Go ahead, dude, you're good!" he shouted above the roar of engines to boat driver Peter Mazzo, who lowered the throttle.

The long, yellow boat dubbed No Discipline growled as it hunkered down as if to grip the ocean. It bucked a little and then began a wind-rushing, sea-spraying flight across the water at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour.

Less than a week after a high-speed boating accident claimed the lives of three Gloucester County brothers, members of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club gathered to demonstrate that their sport involves not only speed, but safety.

Yesterday, the 300-member club staged a "Poker Run" from Toms River to Trump Marina in Atlantic City with one group traveling on the ocean and the other along the intracoastal waterway.

The object of the game involving 63 sleek, muscular speedboats was not speed, but to collect enough winning cards at different stops along the way to trump the other teams.

Overshadowing the event was a Memorial Day powerboat tragedy, in which a $400,000 twin-hulled catamaran, Bad Kat, skipped across the waves and flipped at what police said was at least 80 m.p.h. A search off Sea Isle, where the accident occurred, has yet to recover the bodies of the three Malia brothers - James, 40, of Williamstown; Jeffrey, 35, of Glassboro; and Joel, 32, of Gloucester Township.

Powerboat drivers such as Patnaude, of Toms River, were concerned yesterday that the public might come to perceive powerboating as an unsafe sport, full of reckless enthusiasts.

Patnaude, 33, the club's president, expressed his concerns at the kickoff of the Poker Run before a group of about 100 club members at the Lobster Shanty in Toms River for the 50-mile ride.

"In the wake of the tragedy, a lot of people think we're reckless yahoos," Patnaude told the group. "We want to get the real message out and let people see what we're about and show that we're not some of the crazy people we've been portrayed [to be]."

He added: "If anything happens or anyone gets reckless, this is the last Poker Run."

The number-one goal was safety, he said. "Number two, but a close second, is fun."

While acknowledging that the state requires no license or formal training for powerboaters over age 16, he said his group would not hesitate to support licensing. And, he said, he knows of no one behind the wheel of an expensive powerboat who has not had some training.

The boats, ranging in price from $30,000 to $700,000, can reach speeds of more than 140 m.p.h.

While the boats were expensive, the owners span from blue collar to white collar, Patnaude said. The oldest member is 67. "It is a family sport," he said.

Mazzo, 43, of Toms River, driver of No Discipline, said he keeps a car seat in his boat for his 5-year-old son.

According to Patnaude, he and many other members of the group had met the Malia brothers at a recent club event in Philadelphia. They had intended to join, he said.

He said no one knows what caused the accident on Memorial Day.

Members said the brothers had purchased their boat only last year and were not that experienced with a catamaran. Patnaude said the Malias had one of the best speedboat instructors around.

"I met one of them, the oldest," said Charles Amorosi, 58, of West Orange, who drove a 36-foot catamaran similar to the Malias'.

"They wanted to go fast," he said. "They bought it last year and only used it two or three times... . They may have just used bad judgment."

John O'Loughlin, 38, of Long Island, added: "It would have been better if they had been wearing life jackets."

"Catamarans are very light, and they have twin hulls and air gets under them," said Robert Christie, 48, of East Windsor, as he displayed the 21 dials that must be observed on his single-hulled boat. "Catamarans are very rough. They get waves, and they bounce a lot."

Said Vinny Rifice, 37, of Long Island, who drives a 32-foot catamaran: "The cat is a 143-mile-per-hour rocket ship. You really have to know what you're doing."
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Old 06-03-2002, 01:58 PM
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Thumbs up Well Done, Dave..

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Old 06-03-2002, 02:06 PM
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Way to go guys! Makes me proud to say I was born, raised and learned to boat in Jersey.
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Old 06-03-2002, 02:08 PM
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Thanks guys!

A big thank you to Dwight Ott of the Inquirer for being objective and wanting to learn what performance powerboating is all about.

We will continue to push to have performance powerboating presented in the positive light it deserves.
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Old 06-03-2002, 02:29 PM
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While that is a good article stressing safety, I have to disagree with you Dave...

Licensing is not the answer to the tragedy of two weeks ago and I would hope that you and your group would rethink supporting such a thing. Too often, people see regulations and licensing as the answer to things we have no control over. Everytime something like this happens, people automatially overreact and swing the pendulum to the extreme opposite. More government intervention is the last thing we need in our hobby/sport. Between Manatee zones and decibal metering, we are slowly losing this last bastion of freedom we call recreational boating.

Education and training are a viable means of preventing what happened the the Malia brothers, not gonvernmental controls on who can own and/or operate a boat. And, even after the training and experience, you still run the risk of something like this happening again. Look at Jack Caromdy...arguably one of the most experienced boaters/racers out there and he is killed in a freak accident in Corpus...do you think licensing would have changed the outcome there?

Please, people...DO NOT support any efforts to further regulate our sport.
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Old 06-03-2002, 03:06 PM
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NJPPC,
Congratulations on a job well done.
Thank you for having put performance boating in the best light possible.
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Old 06-03-2002, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for your opinion Sean but we can agree to dissagree.

As for licensing, I am in favor of some kind of licensing for extremely fast performance boats. Step 1 would be to determine what is extremely fast. My interpretation of extremely fast is 100mph+. Peter Hledin and George Linder both stated at Skaterfest that some kind of licensing should come about in the future to make it safer for operators and others on the water.

Now for the licensing part - am I in favor of a totalitarian state where I need to have my boat inspected annually for a fee and be tested every year for re-certification for a fee, have manufacturers put governors on motors, and all kinds of other crazy stuff????.....absoluetly not.

I am in favor of owner/operators needing to go through some kind of certification. Just because someone has $300k in their pocket it should not allow them to just go buy a 150mph rocket. You need a license for a 100mph car & 100mph motorcycle. If the person knows how to operate a 150mph boat - a certification test should be a piece of cake. Look at how many people came to Skaterfest to become more knowledgeable and asked hundreds of questions of the experts. Again - in favor of it if it is well thought out and a credible program not just another piece of beauacracy.

Peter Hledin and George Linder think its a good idea - and without a doubt they are 2 of the most knowledgeable individuals when it comes to 100mph plus.
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Old 06-03-2002, 03:28 PM
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Dave...we'll definetely have to disagree, because no matter what your intentions may be, big brother will most certainly find a way muck it up for everyone. They will most certainly turn it into some revenue generating beaureacracy with no real emphasis on safety. Do you realy think that they would only require licensing of high speed craft when the potential revenue for licensing all operators exists? Do you think the only accidents occur involve high speed craft? Please see Uncle Toys post on this subject, I think you will find it particularly important and educational to those who say we are a dangerous bunch.

And, with all due respect to Mr. Hledin and Mr. Linder, just because they say it's a good idea, does not make it so. As builders of 100mph plus boats, I think the onus falls on Mr. Hledin and his dealer network to properly educate their clientel on the safe operation of the product they sell...yes...this seems completely unreasonable...I agree, but ask Mr. Hledin how much he pays each year for product liablity insurance and then ask him how many times he has been sued because someone was injured or killed using his product...to have an attitude such as "let the government handle it" says to me that they wish to absolve themselves of any liability and put it in the hands of the government to educate their customers...they have simply thrown up their hands and said "I give up..." Oh, and before anyone begins...I don't believe the automobile company argument applies here. this is a smal niche market and no one is saying the builder has to educate 10 million people...

That being said, I still believe that no amount of licensing, training, education or experienc for that matter, will prevent accidents from happening and just because freak accidents do happen, we don't need to automatically throw up our hands and say we need regulating...

Take PWCs for example...as much as I hate those vermin, and as stupid as most of those operators are(because any idiot with $9995 can go out and buy one)...I still don't think they should be licensed...why? Because the next one who will be required have a license while operating a boat will be me and I don't need that...

Last edited by Sean; 06-03-2002 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 06-03-2002, 04:20 PM
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DaveP and Sean
You both have great points. Me personally, I would like to see a required boat safety class.It amazes
me the ignorance that is being used while boating.
I boat on Lake Norman and powerboating here is becoming a real bear. Its not just the go-fast boaters either,pwc,sailboaters,yachts,and so on.
It seems to me no one whats to use standard boating rules.
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Old 06-04-2002, 01:51 AM
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It was nice for a change to actually see people that respected their boats, the club, the marine police and the waterways in which they embarked upon........
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Last edited by SHARKEY-IMAGES; 06-04-2002 at 11:37 PM.
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