During the 2003 Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships, I spent a lot of time hanging out with a cool guy named Ed Mossmiller. I’d gotten to know Mossmiller, whose home water was Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, when Bob Teague and I tested his turbine-powered 40-foot Skater catamaran during the 2003 Powerboat Performance Trials. That was my first 160-mph boat ride and a fairly docile one for that particular cat, which reportedly had reached speeds of more than 180 mph.
An immediately likeable, entertaining and generous man, Mossmiller died a few months later when his catamaran flipped at high speed on his beloved Chesapeake Bay. Brett Becker, my editor at Powerboat at the time, and I were devastated by the news.
Mossmiller was the only person I’ve known personally to die in a high-performance pleasure boating accident. Given that the performance-boat community is small and I’ve spent 16 years covering it, I consider myself lucky not to have known a few more. But that doesn’t mean yesterday’s accident on Biscayne Bay, which claimed the lives of two more performance-boat lovers, didn’t affect me.
To borrow from Bill Bartus, a friend and long-time performance-boat owner and lover, “Love our sport, but hate it when this happens.”
Like most of you, I’ve been trying to find a way to deal with yesterday’s lethal performance boat crash. It’s too early—at least for me as a journalist and a commentator—to speculate on the how and why, much less draw any conclusions on the what. Still, I’m struggling to find perspective.
Or at least I was until I read Steve David’s blog on Powerboatmag.com. I linked to entire blog with his name, but here’s one thing David, an Unlimited hydroplane racing champion, wrote that struck me as profound and worthy of serious consideration:
“I am more safe at 200 mph in my Unlimited than the majority of drivers and passengers in high-speed pleasure boats. In fact, we have lost more boaters in high-speed pleasure boat accidents in the past five years than all forms of powerboat racing combined.”
David was neither pointing fingers nor being insensitive. He is one of the kindest and most empathetic people you’ll ever meet. He was simply saying what needed to be said—and saying it before the impact of this most recent tragedy is lost.