A different type of boat race

ranger-mercury_2019_at_millers_boating_center.jpg

My Ranger dealer is Roland Martin's Marine Center. My outboard dealer is Miller's Boating Center (both in Florida). Together, they satisfy all my boating needs.

Each year, pro anglers make a move to newer boats, but not always because we choose to. It’s more because we’re expected to.

Our sponsors want us showcasing their latest products. That includes boat companies, outboard companies, electronics companies … you name it.

Of course, like you, we love new boats. But when you factor in the short amount of time in which we have to order, rig and prep our boats, transitioning from one to another can become a race against the clock.

There is so much involved. Tweaking everything so that it functions as desired involves considerable time, effort and expense. And once you get a boat completely dialed in, it’s not something you want to give up. At least not me.

Nevertheless, new boats are a must and we all try to stay with the pace.

That said, here’s a closer look at the process.

Out with the old

At the end of the season, the first order of business is to strip the current boat of its vinyl wrap and deck graphics. And that’s a big job. 

Like a huge, form-fitting decal, the vinyl is adhered securely to the boat’s surface with strong adhesives. Removing it takes time, especially with any extra reinforcing adhesive applied to corners, curves and other stress points. To get it all, special solvents are used. But before that happens, the windshield, cleats, light fixtures and all other trim pieces have to be removed from the boat and trailer. 

Then come the deck graphics, which are a much heavier, tread-like material. Once those are off, a serious power washing or steam cleaning is required. 

If two people work at it steadily, the job usually takes a full day … sometimes more. Once everything is back together and looking good, then the boat can be delivered to its new owner — assuming there’s a buyer on hand. 

Many anglers presell their tournament rigs before the tour ends. Others look for buyers through the Internet or by word of mouth afterward. 

In the meantime

While the refurbishing process is going on, most touring pros are busy ordering all the equipment needed for their next boat. And that process can differ from one manufacturer to another — even one angler to another, depending on their level of sponsorship with those brands.

I run a Ranger, and I have for more than 30 years. In that time, I’ve grown accustomed to their process. And, yes, there’s a lot of paperwork involved. We’re required to file an application for renewal, regardless of how long we’ve been with the company. The same goes for my outboard manufacturer, Mercury Marine.