Home  |  SuperTips  |  Mfg Links


Part of these articles, (the part about the Lifeline style racing vests & helmets) really only applies to the Allisons and such that can reach the higher speeds (90's and over 100), but the part about the foot throttles/wheel trim, and regular vests applies to all of us.
Personally, I wouldn't think of running my boat without wearing my life vest, and with the kill switch hooked up.  I also have a foot throttle which is that much safer, especially if there was an accident.  Worse case, even if the driver weren't wearing the kill switch and there was an accident, the boat would still be in gear but would be down to an idle speed.  Less chance that it would come back and hit you while you were in the water.
Al Shields

When we're talking about ultrafast performance boats, safety often becomes the last thing one thinks about.  It's true that nothing is 100% safe, but when operating a boat at over 100 mph, it sure makes things easier and more fun if you can make them as safe as possible.  There's a few "must have" when it comes to operating your ultra performance boat.
Foot Throttles:
Can you imagine driving your car with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the throttle?  You shouldn't do that with your boat either.  It's even more evident when you compare driving a car over a relatively flat surface like a road versus driving your boat over the constantly changing surface of the water.  We would laugh if we had to drive a car at 50 mph over a washboardy dirt road with one hand, yet I've seen people drive boats at over 90 mph with one hand - it's flat out stupid!  There's no excuse to not have both hands on the wheel at ALL TIMES when you are travelling at those speeds in a boat.  One of the first foot throttles was designed by Ray Nydahl in 1968.  Since then, other brands have come in and basically copied the original design.  This is a definite must in today's hi-perf boat.  Foot throttles start around $60 and go up from there.

Trim in the Wheel:
In order to keep both hands on the steering wheel, you need to move your trim buttons from the hand throttle to your steering wheel.  Some people prefer the buttons on the floor with the ability to use them with your foot, but I've seen more than one person accidently rest their foot on the buttons with disastrous results.  There are several reasonably priced trim systems on the market and they can be used whether or not you have hydraulic steering or standard cable steering.  Teleflex introduced the ProTrim in 1996.  This unit resembles a turn signal.  The ProTrim system can be used on all types of steering systems including hydraulic and has a very clean appearance and works great. 

Life Vests and Helmets:
A proper fitting and manufactured life vest and helmet is critical when stretching you boat out to its triple digit limits.  Any racing organization requires a Lifeline style racing vest and a Snell approved helmet.  There are several different models available.  Security Racing Product as well as Lifeline are the two largest racing vest manufacturers, but there are also several mainstream life vest manufacturers offering 100 mph impact life vests as well for much lower prices.  A Race vest will set you back about 300-400 dollars, while a 100 mph impact vest will run you in the 60-80 dollar range.
Helmets are offered in obviously thousands of models and styles.  Full face helmets have the advantage of protecting the lower face and jaw from impact, but also carry with them the added"bucketing" effect when you hit the water.  These helmets can result in added neck injury because of their added weight and surface areas when they hit the water.  There is a definite trade-off.  I personally use a full face and it has come in handy on more than one occasion as I've broken two of them on steering wheels when I've wrecked the boat.
The design you like is a personal preference, but no matter what style you choose, be sure it is Snell approved and not just DOT approved.

Sam Baker,   Baker Marine Support, Antioch, IL.      www.scaryfast.com