Reef Racer Mayhem

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

AquaCraft Models, by Hobbico, are simply some of the most exciting liquid going R/Cs on the market. From the Nitro Hammer's explosive speed to the realistic quality of the beautiful Bristol Bay, AquaCraft's line gives you that ready-to-run, instant gratification-esque excitement you just can't find elsewhere.

Enter the Reef Racer 2, with a simple 380 motor, sealable shell, quick-charger and self righting hull. It's perfect for that first introduction to the R/C realm. And at 3 years, 41.5-inches, my son Frankie was the perfect subject on which to test this vessel's learning curve.

Honestly, there is no easier way to introduce your child to the joys and challenges of R/C than with watercraft. Think about it; it's really hard to crash a boat at 15 mph, sorry � 75 scale mph. This Reef Racer just zips happily along until it runs out of pool or pond. Even if you chuck it in the water upside down and sideways, it just does a simple weeble-woble maneuver and keeps on truck'n, er, uh�boat'n. The ease of operation ensures great play for those just starting out while the unparalleled handling keeps us ADD-stricken adults watching every single minute � it's a real recipe for interaction.

The 12-volt automotive 30 minute quick-charger gets things started. But, to keep the party going � having multiple rechargable 7.2 volt battery packs isn't a bad idea. The run time is 6-8 minutes going at high throttle. Since I'm the daddy, I had to give this boat a short test run before turning the wheel over to my pre-school counterpart. Let me tell you it was a blast to run, much like having your own personal water bug. The very low CG (that's center of gravity for you newbies) helps keep it planted in the turns. It just slices and dices. For further straight-line acceleration, you may consider duct-taping a sky rocket to the canopy. Kidding! But hey, this craft is all about the child within � leave your stop watch at the house.

Frankie quickly wrestled the pistol grip controller from my reluctant hands and my driving experience was gone in 60 seconds. Now for the disclaimer: my son's a fantastic driver - no lie. He was leaning into the turns in the shopping cart at 10 months �so he may have a bit more familiarity with steering than most kids his age. His favorite descriptive word for the Reef Racer was "awesome" which he used continuously during our outing. He took to driving the boat quickly, turning only once before beaching it across the pond. Early on he was a one-channel kind of guy, and that channel was the accelerator. Later he ventured onto the steering wheel, his favorite technique being the lock to lock "I'm driving on ice" maneuver. Pretty impressive to watch! He giggled nearly nonstop and didn't hit the shore again till his battery charge was up. He was quite taken by the prop after I told him it could cut his finger. He made it a point to remind me of this each time I pulled the boat out of the water. Did I mention this boat was "awesome"? The look on his face as he watched this puppy zip along the water was just�um, to quote someone I know, "awesome"! He did get a bit confused on one concept. Why couldn't we just drive the boat back when it ran out of juice in the middle of the pond. I guess maybe that's more of a four-year-old explanation.

It really was a treat for Frankie to operate the remote. We enjoy doing things like this together. With its quick reflexes and simple design, the Reef Racer is the perfect companion for a father and his energetic young son. - Frank and Frankie Berte Frank J. Berte is the marketing manager for the town of Seaside, FL. He enjoys going to the beach, playing with his son Frankie, restoring his ‘72 Porsche, and of course, dabbling in a little R/C. Frankie C. Berte, beach boy esquire, enjoys going to the beach, picking on his dad, driving his new boat, and lining up his 300+ Hot Wheels in a row, daily.

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