Eight advice for safe sailing at 50 knots with your boat

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Credits: Tom Leigh - Tommy Gun Images

Credits: Tom Leigh – Tommy Gun Images

On the road you can’t go more than 130 km/h (in Italy) but by sea you can go as fast as you can. Always compatible with a series of factors such as: the experience and practice of those at the helm; the presence of maritime traffic, weather and sea conditions. Established that you can do it and that you do not put yourself in a dangerous situation (nor do we put others in it) we see how to go very fast starting from a consideration that is not so trivial: the speed of your boat is not just a matter of horses. It’s more about how the horses are exploited. Here are the indispensable tricks to have nothing to envy to professional riders. And to sail at full speed in complete safety.

The seats

Let’s first try to be comfortable. So watch out for the seats, both for the drivers and the passengers. As far as the driver’s seat is concerned, more and more manufacturers are proposing, as standard, or among the optional extras, anatomical seats, directly derived from those of the competitions. These are wrap-around seats, which often have a completely foldable seat and a backrest extended upwards, so that you can also drive standing upright.

The steering wheel

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Well, now that you are seated and have started the engine, let’s take a look at the driver’s console. When gripping the steering wheel it is essential to have a firm grip. To obtain it, wheels with a diameter ranging from 35 to 40 centimetres are usually used, with two or three spokes and a shaped anatomical crown. Absolutely avoid steering wheels with a smooth crown, it can be slippery!

The handcuffs

A separate mention must be made for handcuffs. Our advice? Choose a model with the gas levers separated from the inverters (the gears, for example). No single-lever controls, then. On the more pushed and sporty boats are therefore used special handcuffs, quite similar to each other in look and mechanics. The most common ones are American (like the Gaffrig), but also the Genoese Riviera has “racing” models in its catalogue. The characteristic of these handcuffs? It’s the modularity. In practice, you can put a theoretically infinite number of them side by side (just think, on a “four-motorized” boat there are eight!).

Foot throttle

Most demanding people can opt for the so-called marine foot throttle, i.e. the pedal accelerator, such as those in passenger cars. Again, these are almost exclusively made in the USA, but are also easily available via the Internet. All models are compatible with the most common remote control cables in our country. Recommended only for really sporty boats, with deep seats: don’t try to use them with a standing guide.

The windscreen

Make sure that the windscreen really is able to protect you from the air while sailing. At fifty knots (and more) the displacement would prevent you from seeing anything: try to keep your eyes open by running at more than 120 km per hour!

Good

Now is the time to think about your passengers. Even inflatable boats or boats open under ten meters are able to “fly” over the water: the boats you go out with friends to reach the most beautiful coves. Make sure that everyone on board can enjoy speed safely. Often you don’t pay attention to this, but it is important that your boat has the correct number of handsets, both on the sides of the console and near the seats and sofas in the cockpit. Better to avoid having people forward of the console: even with the best hull in the world, cushioning the blows becomes challenging.

Outboard

If you choose outboard engines, you have two valid alternatives to increase their performance. The first is a special extension that not only increases speed, but also keeps engine noise and exhaust fumes away from the boat. The installation of the engine is more suitable, it also allows you to raise the engine, reducing friction, since a smaller surface area of the foot is immersed in the water. The second solution, similar to the one described earlier, but a little more expensive, consists in the adoption of a jack bracket. This system consists of a sliding plate equipped with an electric cylinder that raises the outboard vertically during navigation. This way you can submerge your foot more during pre-planing to get more thrust. Once you’ve picked up speed, up the outboard, so you reduce friction and get the propeller working at its best.

Propeller

The choice of propeller is another way to optimize the performance of your boat. On outboards, the installation of a bracket should be accompanied by the use of half-surface propellers, which greatly increase speed. For those with inboard engines, the surface propeller is the fastest, mainly because it has the lowest hydrodynamic resistance, but you can only use it with the appropriate transmissions. With aft feet, however, the choice is really wide. Always remember that the highest speeds are achieved with the smallest diameter and the smallest number of blades as well as the longest wheelbase.

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