Reviews and Endorsements

Finallya common sense approach to correcting “before the bang.”  In the book Safe Champions, Bob Wartinger gives powerboat-racing competitors a blueprint for doing their personal best without sacrificing safety.  A practical guide with an insider’s experience, the chapters — including the boats and personal safety equipment as well as physical and mental preparedness — provide no nonsense information for every driver.  We have recommended Bob’s book to all of our teams; it’s a “must read” even for those professing to not read”.

— Sherron Winer, partner Powerboat Superleague

SAFE CHAMPIONS A Driver’s Guide to Safe Boat Racing 2.0 by Bob Wartinger • Cedar Forge Press 2011 • available from and

Record-setting racer Bob Wartinger’s  SAFE CHAMPIONS offers a comprehensive look at how racers and officials can lower the risks of powerboat racing—and boost performance at the same time. He brings a wealth of experience from his own racing career and his leadership of the UIM Safety and Medical Commission and work with the APBA Safety and Rescue Committee.  When serious accidents occur in the sport, Wartinger is always among the experts who trace the causes and promote solutions.

In a clear, reader-friendly style, Wartinger expands upon the three main aspects of safe racing—Education, Enforcement and Technology—that he has stressed at many APBA Safety and Rescue meetings over the years. He emphasizes the importance of decisions made all along the way—from the original boat design, to safety equipment choices, to the mental state of a racer at the instant a race begins.

The book contains helpful advice on how to select and maintain a boat, helmet, life jacket, head and neck protection, and other safety gear. For those who did not grow up with a boat racing family or friends, this book is an excellent guide to starting a safe and successful racing career. Often economic pressures dictate how racers select their equipment. Wartinger is aware of this reality. However, he has spent years urging racers, and those responsible for the direction of the sport, to prioritize safety over extra speed.

Some of the most fascinating material involves the psychology of racing. Wartinger offers common-sense ways for the individual racer to assess and improve his own mental preparedness. He prescribes a balance of aggressiveness with mental toughness, which he describes as “emotional stability, self-control, and the ability to keep anxiety and tension under control”.  A few simple exercises can improve focus and clarity. Team psychology is another critical area. The reader can compare Wartinger’s description of an ideal team with his own, and make simple, straightforward changes to promote more effective teamwork.

Information about diet, hydration and the overall physiology of racing may be an eye-opener to those who think racing is just sitting in a boat. Wartinger encourages boat racers to think of themselves, and to prepare, as athletes. In fact, the physical stresses are similar to those in other sports. Some seemingly obvious advice about drug and alcohol use bear repeating. Wartinger adds information about prescription drugs, eyewear, and even body piercings (who knew?) that can become hazardous in racing.

The chapter aimed at officials is helpful both for those who supervise racing and those who follow their direction. Wartinger encourages officials to stay in excellent mental and physical preparedness. He points out that APBA scorers spend a great deal of time communicating with one another, which helps both them and the sport. Referees and inspectors, on the other hand, tend to work alone. Wartinger believes that more communication could help them become better officials.

He also urges racers to step up and take on referee, race director and inspector duties to learn more about the sport. First aid classes can prepare racers to help out in case of an incident; and to understand what rescue workers are doing when they land in the water. In short, the Education aspect of safety never ends. Wartinger continues to learn himself, and encourages the rest of us to keep up with changes in the racing world.

Overall, SAFE CHAMPIONS A Driver’s Guide to Safe Boat Racing 2.0 is a must-have for beginners and experienced racers, and for the officials who watch over them.