Since I began working with Yamaha Outboards, I’ve sought out opportunities to learn more about the product and lifestyle surrounding it. Little did I know that opportunity would come at 71 mph.
Recently, I had the opportunity to join fellow HY Connector Tom Watson on a road trip up north for the 2012 Bassmaster Green Bay Challenge, one in the Bassmaster Elite tournament series where 98 professional anglers from all over the country vie for the chance at $100,000 and a coveted spot in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. There was buzz surrounding the event, since the series hadn’t docked in the area in about a decade.
Upon arrival, Yamaha tournament and pro staff manger David Ittner welcomed us and led us to the docks to participate in a demo ride. After signing the necessary forms and getting outfitted with lifejackets, we grabbed a seat in a 21’ Skeeter FX Series with a Yamaha 250 hp VMAX SHO on the back, the world’s first 4.2L Super High Output four stroke for bass boats. Since its introduction in 2010, the VMAX SHO has changed the game by offering all the advantages of a two stroke in a clean-burning, fuel-efficient four stroke.
The ride was surprisingly smooth and as our speed increased, my eyes watered slightly. These were clearly tears of joy as this could not have been a more enjoyable experience. I glanced at the speedometer, and I had to do a double-take. 71 mph. Wow. Even more impressive was that it was quiet enough to engage in conversation with the driver during the ride.
We weren’t the only ones impressed either. As we recounted the experience like excited children for David Ittner back at the Yamaha booth, others who had completed demo rides couldn’t hold back.
“I ain’t gonna lie…it was fun,” one demo rider said. “I can’t believe how stable 73 miles per hour was. I kept looking at the GPS to make sure it wasn’t lying.”
To experience the product is one thing, but it’s another to immerse yourself in the culture. What stood out most during our visit to the 2012 Bassmaster Green Bay Challenge was the overall passion on display, ranging from Yamaha staff to professional anglers. Ittner told stories about his pro team like they were family. Many anglers work hard to make bass fishing a successful career, even if that means sleeping in the truck instead of a hotel. And when the weigh-in at the end of the day doesn’t go as hoped, anglers keep their heads high and look forward to the next tournament where maybe, just maybe, they’ll reel in the big one.
There’s no greater learning experience than getting out and immersing yourself in the business, whether at 71 mph or not.