• Controls moving a group of boats efficiently from one place to another by keeping them in a controlled formation.
  • Practice and develop the boat handling skills of turning and making slow-speed adjustments while staying in formation.
  • Helps develop operator confidence in crossing wakes by having the reference of a boat ahead of them.

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Boats prepare to get into their formation positions either to starboard or port of the trainer boat as per trainer’s instructions.
  • Boats start from a position dead in the water or near a dock.

Conducting the Drill:

  • Trainer boat leads operator boats in formation with the first boat two boat lengths astern and two boat lengths to starboard or port of the trainer boat, and the second boat two boat lengths astern and to the side of the first boat, and so on.
  • Trainer boat makes turns and varies speed.

Teaching Tips:

  • When turning toward the formation, do not go too slowly so that the last boat has to stop or reverses.
  • When turning away from the formation, do not go too fast so that the last boat cannot stay in position or exceeds the slow-speed setting.
  • Trainer has a system of hand signals in place to guide the operators during this drill.
  • This drill can be used when leaving the docking area and proceeding through a slow/no wake zone to an open water area for high-speed drills.

Common Errors:

  • Operators failing to stay in position to the boat ahead and winding up in its quarter wake with resulting difficulty in steering.
  • Allowing boat to change heading during speed transitions.


  • Safe Powerboating Handling On-Water Skill Standards 4.2, 4.3, 4.5, 4.6, 4.10 and their rubrics
  • Start Powerboating Right! textbook pp. 48, 53