Protector 8.5M

The Protector maintains a respectable cruising speed thanks to her sharp entry.

The racecourse was full with one of the biggest fleets at Yachting's Key West Race Week. On division one, we wove our way through the traffic jam looking for a clear line to set our gate upwind from the committee boat. As the clutter grew, it became difficult to judge the distance between us and the committee boat. The race officer called on Pin Boat One to assist and call the drop.

Out from the chaos came the 8.5-meter Protector. The operator maneuvered her around the fleet and quickly took up station off our beam. Once we were in, the Protector spun around at high speed and headed back to form the other end of the starting line.

I marveled at her workmanlike deck space. The race committee easily secured the anchor rode on the tough samson post and sat cooly under the rigid bimini. A few members gathered in the small cabin to catch up on paperwork. Several times during the start, boats piled on the Protector, grabbing her rode and spinning the tough vessel around. The crew simply waited for the racers to sort everything out, confident their durable craft would not be harmed.

Under way in a heavy chop, the Protector maintains a respectable cruising speed thanks to her sharp entry. Running strakes, as well as the tubes, will keep the ride relatively dry. Power options range from twin 115 hp outboards to a single inboard diesel.

Protector Boats, (877) 664-BOAT; www.protectorusa.com.