TV show’s pro anglers say there’s no room for engine failure in the conditions they encounter
About 20 journalists gathered in southwest Florida for the Yamaha Marine Group summer media event, where they tested boats from 16 to 35 feet powered with Yamaha outboards from 70 to 300 hp.
Yamaha also invited to the three-day event the professional anglers behind the National Geographic Channel TV series “Shark Men” to promote the durability, endurance and low maintenance of its engines and control systems. “The reason for getting the Shark Men involved is that they have such an excellent story to tell in that they use our product really hard. They’re unforgiving in the way they use the product,” Yamaha communications manager Martin Peters says.
Inviting the Shark Men is an example of Yamaha’s alternative marketing efforts to attract more journalists to its media events, Peters says. The anglers, who catch and release sharks to collect data that may help increase survival rates, use two boats with Yamaha power: a 21-foot Safe Boat with twin F115 4-strokes and a 23-foot Contender center console with a pair of F250 4-strokes.
The June 14-16 event was held at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers, Fla., and Yamaha engineers were on hand to run the boat-engine packages with the media and provide technical and test data. Yamaha showcased its V-6 offshore engines, which include 225-, 250- and 300-hp models.
The media also had an opportunity to interview the team of fishermen and researchers led by Chris Fischer, the man behind the television show and the founder of Ocearch, a non-profit organization that researches large marine species such as the great white shark.
“With Yamaha, you turn the key and it runs. That is the most important thing for us,” says Denny Wagner, engineer aboard Ocearch’s 126-foot mothership, who maintains the operation’s engines, boats and equipment. “We’re working real tight to the beach and around big reefs and rocks. And with the sharks, it is pretty obvious why we need stuff to run without failing. If you have a 3,000-pound white shark you’re dealing with, you want your equipment to function.”
The fishermen’s Safe Boat, a rugged aluminum center console wrapped in a polyethylene foam collar, was among the 13 boats available for sea trials. “The Shark Men really needed a boat that was open and as ergonomic as possible so they could run around the deck when they have a shark on,” says Kevin Rowlee, sales manager for Bremerton, Wash.-based Safe Boats. “The deck layout was really minimalized.”
The non-skid, however, was maximized. “They can step up or sideways or any way without having any sort of a slip,” Rowlee says. “The boat was designed to keep them safe.”
I ran the Safe Boat with Wagner, who threw the vessel into 40-mph doughnuts and sharp turns to demonstrate its tracking and maneuverability. The other boats on hand were two Rangers (a 168 Phantom with a Yamaha F70 and a Z518 Intracoastal with twin F200s); a Maverick 17HPX with an F70; a Nautic Star 2200 with F250s; a Shearwater 23TE with an F250; two Skeeters (a ZX 20 Bay with an F115 and a ZX 22 Bay with an F250; a Scout 251 XS with an F300; a Pursuit ST310 with twin F300s; and a Contender 35ST with triple F300s.
We also took tours of Fischer’s mothership, Ocean, a former Bering Sea crabbing vessel, which was anchored just outside the resort’s marina. The anglers use a crane to haul sharks aboard Ocean after they’re hooked from the smaller boats.
“We want to make a global impact on the future of the ocean and ensure robust fish populations for generations to come. That’s what it’s all about on the mothership Ocean,” Fischer said during a talk aboard his vessel. “It’s not about the thrill of catching the big one; it’s about fishing for science.”
Arranging Ocearch’s involvement in the event was easier than expected, Peters says. “We knew they were going to be doing research on the hammerhead shark in Boca Grande Pass, and Sanibel is in close proximity, so it worked out nicely,” he says.
Ocearch has completed 11 expeditions using Ocean. “We have some of the greatest leading thought-makers in the science world who focus on the giant creatures of the ocean — giant great white sharks, giant tiger sharks, bull sharks, squid,” Fischer says. “It’s a privilege for us as big-game anglers and professional mariners to come together with the academic community to advance knowledge.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue.