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Commentary: Ripples from Key West

Old 11-20-2011, 02:54 PM
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Well wrote!

I felt exactly the same and have since given up on my dream of a large fast cat. The thrill of running my boat is more then I need now!
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:01 PM
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I have to agree with you - again. Hopefully, these tragedies will bring about meaningful changes to race boat / cockpit construction on race boats so lives will be saved in the future. Just as Dale Earnhardt's unfortunate death led to dramatic changes in NASCAR, maybe these three deaths will lead to simlar changes in Offshore racing.

I also agree that the potentially bigger issue is "pleasure" boats that are running nearly as fast - many times with nowhere near the experience behind the controls. I personally campaigned to eliminate the "radar run" portion of our club's annual Poker Run a number of years ago because several of us were getting nervous about the speeds and lack of talent. As much as I enjoyed running that show, I'm glad we gave it up.

I just hope most of our members are serious enough about safety on the water to avoid becoming a headline someday. Keep up the good work!

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Old 11-20-2011, 03:11 PM
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Great commentary Matt.
Just a couple of thoughts, If one looks at NASCAR, there was a reason they implemented "restictor plates"-to slow the cars down! The cars are running slower today than 20 years ago, and the competition is closer today than ever before! Boat racing could do the same. Is there really a need for Super Duper Extreme Unlimited Turbine Cat Class?? Its become an "Exhibition Race" against few or no competitors. Slowing the boats down with some serious tech rules could be a great start-and improve on "competition".
One thing I think Offshore Racing has done right is limiting the long distance courses. There is a huge safety factor here. If one looks at the tragic event in front of Mallory Square, divers were able to respond in 40 seconds. Just imagine if it were in the olden days, and your 20 miles Offshore, how many minutes it would take for help to arrive? I'm sure Rich L. might even agree, even though he has been an advocate for long distance racing as it was 30 years ago.
Less is more. Less classes, less speed=more safety, more competition.
My Prayers go out to all of the racers, family's and friends who were effected during last week's tragedies. A real tragedy would be to do more of the same-nothing.

Last edited by Fast Shafts; 11-20-2011 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:40 PM
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I like 1, 2, and 3 on your list....

Originally Posted by Top Banana View Post
Bobby Saccenti called me last week when he got home from being in Key West. We spoke about this awful tragedy for quite a while and came up with some old guy answers.

1.) The boats are too fast and the courses are too short.
2.) Get back to long legs and real ocean racing, min 150 mile races.
3.) Simplify the classes...3 maybe 5 if needed.
4.) Have just one big boat class....max 45 feet or so.
5.) One engine spec. Big block, one carb, log exhaust
6.) Max of 4 blades on the props.
7.) Offshore version of a silhouette NASCAR car. Hulls and decks identical, available to everyone to be rigged.
With these restricted engines speeds for the single engine boats would be approx 65 MPH and the twin engine boats in the 90 MPH range. Average speeds for the big boats over 150 miles of real ocean would be in the 70 mile range

Jersey speed skiffs, SK boats, Unlimited hydros are all very exciting, but they stayed as they were raced 10 years or 20 years ago. Leave the real offshore racing alone and call this harbor and beach stuff by another name.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:59 PM
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I agree Matt. The tragic losses at Key West have shaken me. I have seen many accidents over the last couple of decades but this year was absolute worst. I agree it is unacceptable and I think that the changes that need to be made will come far too slowly. A few years ago ( as a poker runner, not a racer ) I grew tired of not just the risk associated with running my offshore boats at speed but the abuse on both our equipment and our bodies not to mention the never ending expense of keeping the boats in good mechanical condition. For me it was time for a change. That is what got me thinking diesel and I now enjoy long distance cruising at a safe speed and seeing far away places that are now within reach. Still offshore boating, but in a different, much more enjoyable way. Be safe my friends.

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Old 11-20-2011, 04:27 PM
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Having done the 165 + ride in an open cockpit SKATER behind a canopy, I can honestly say it was not much of a thrill ride for me. For one, the canopy removes all sense of the speed you are doing therefore takes away some of the fun factor. Other than reading an airspeed gauge you really don't know you're going that fast. The reason I went for that ride? The experience. It is now checked off my bucket list. It would not bother me if I didn't do it again. I have had my best experiences with speed in my small Bullet 130 at 70 mph in the open ocean and it still ranks at the top of my list for the fun factor. Hopefully many people in their Hi Speed Pleasure boats will respect the speed and just enjoy themselves at a respectable speed and safety of their passengers. Racing on the other hand, I feel until the Safety of Canopies can be matched to the speeds the boats are running, cap the speeds and slow the boats down. It certainly would make for a more interesting race when the boats don't get so far stretched out that it looks like you're watching a parade...

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Old 11-20-2011, 05:23 PM
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Matt and Charlie both excellent points! Let's bring back the fun and do what we can to avoid another tradgey. Pushing the envelope can go to far and in this case I am sorry to say it resulted in the loss of lives.
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:32 PM
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:45 PM
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My personal opinion:

I don't think death increases competitiveness. In fact, the opposite.

The vast majority of competitive events do not require some of the participants to die. Examples include: chess, business, cycling, rowing, swimming, running, basketball, ... I know most readers here don't have a clue how to sail, but yacht racing is in fact way more exciting that powerboat racing: imagine finishing overlapped with someone you've been racing against for 24 hours, the difference between winning and second place being mere feet following hours or even days of putting everything you have out there.

When you might die, you will pull back from the brink. You'll compete well back from the limit because otherwise you'll be dead.

Watching the videos of the crashes that killed, it was clear to me that there was nothing about being the best that lead to those deaths. They really were just out there, they were not truly doing something that will ever make history, that anyone will ever notice if they achieved their goals (save a few seconds on a lap). So dying, while not even being at the leading edge... what a waste of lives. A waste of those families, of friends, of businesses.

Like dying on the freeway driving to work. Just a tragedy, nothing heroic or inspiring or otherwise positive for those of us who remain, including children, spouses, family, friends, business associates, colleagues. Nothing to gain for their ultimate loss.
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Old 11-21-2011, 10:17 AM
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Thanks for publishing this. You had the guts to publish what many of us were thinking, but weren't man enough to admit. I almost pulled the trigger on a cat this fall and I was going to put my power in it. At the end of the day, I would have had a 130+ MPH cat when I've been driving 80-90 MPH V-hulls. Even worse, I would have put my wife (and maybe even kids) in there on some poker runs. I've been in some pretty rough water on runs, and it scares me to think what might have happened.

Unless I have a huge change of heart, I'm going to be happy running my Cig at 70-80 MPH (or less) and waving to the "big boys" as they go by. I just hope I don't ever have to help fish them out of the water someday. We'll see you fast guys at the raft up where all the fun takes place anyway!
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