Johnny Tomlinson likes to let it hang loose.
"The trick is to run just off the water," said one of the most successful powerboat racers in the world. "You want to be free, but in control."
That fine line flying at 150 miles or more, barely skimming the surface, but not flipping — is what separates the winners from the losers in powerboat racing.
The great ones, and the mild-mannered Tomlinson can be counted among the legends of the sport, flirt with danger, and at times even death, but always bring it back. For there's an adage when it comes to powerboat racing that it doesn't matter how fast you go if you don't finish the race.
"I've gone over before and had my share of close calls," said Tomlinson, throttleman for the CMS Offshore Racing Team. "But the trick is to take it to the limit, but still be there at the end."
The adrenalin rush, a byproduct of all extreme sports, is why Tomlinson and other powerboat racers risk their lives week after week. It's also the reason why thousands of fans will line up on Clearwater Beach this weekend for the Super Boat National Championships.
"Clearwater is such a great venue for offshore racing and our teams really like coming here," said Rodrick Cox, spokesman for the Key West-based Super Boat International. "We are expecting a lot of big boats again this year and it should be a great race on Sunday."...