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Boating Basics: Mercury Cruise Control & Smart Tow

Discover two systems that will help deliver a better ride.

Boating Basics: Mercury Cruise Control & Smart Tow

The Tow Sports Boating Basics video series was created to get you ready to ride. With expert advice from Mercury-powered pro wakeboarders Carro Djupsjö and Dylan Miller, each video in the series will help you grow confidence on your journey in wakesurfing or wakeboarding.

The tow boat driver is a vital part of watersports fun. When you operate the tow boat, you are giving your family members and friends new adventures and priceless memories at every turn.

With this role comes great responsibility, of course. You’re responsible for the safety of your rider and everyone on board, and you also want to give your rider the best possible experience behind the boat.

According to Mercury-powered professional wakeboarders Dylan Miller and Carro Djupsjö, that can be a little tricky if you’re new to the towing game, “We both know that speed consistency can make or break a session behind the boat,” Djupsjö said. “Fluctuations in speed can change the shape, size, width and push of the wake, which can create a frustrating experience for the rider.”

Fortunately, Mercury offers Cruise Control and the innovative Smart Tow® system. These advanced SmartCraft® technologies make tow boat driving much easier and more intuitive.

Making Towing Easier

The Mercury Cruise Control system holds the tow boat at your preferred cruising speed, just like cruise control in a car, so your rider can enjoy their experience without worrying about unpredictable changes in riding conditions. The system also makes towing easier for the driver.

Smart Tow offers the same functionality, plus a whole lot more. It has several sport-specific interfaces with digital controls tailored to popular watersports such as tubing, wakesurfing and wakeboarding, and includes preset launch profiles that make it easy to match the takeoff speed to the rider’s preference and experience level. For surf boats, Smart Tow integrates the propulsion system with ballast and surf tabs, making it simple for the captain to set up the wake for ideal riding conditions.

Both are compatible with Mercury engines that have SmartCraft capabilities. They can be controlled using a variety of VesselView® touchscreen displays or compatible displays from other manufacturers that are connected using a VesselView Link or SmartCraft Connect module.

Operating Mercury Cruise Control

To operate your Cruise Control system, first make sure that your engine is running and in neutral. Then tap the boat icon on the left-hand side of your screen. It also might be called “Vessel Controls,” depending on your display.

Next, tap the “Cruise Control” icon and use the up and down arrows to select your preferred cruising speed. Finally, tap the “Enable” icon. It will turn orange when the system is on.

You’re still in control of reaching your cruising speed, so accelerate accordingly until you reach that speed. Then put the throttle all the way forward. The system won’t let you exceed the speed you have chosen. It also won’t engage if you come up short, so if you’ve selected 20 mph, don’t back off the throttle at 18.

If you want to adjust your speed while underway, simply use the up and down arrows. Then when you’re ready to deactivate the Cruise Control system, slow down using the throttle, shift to neutral and tap the orange “Disable” icon.

Operating Mercury Smart Tow

Operating the Smart Tow system is similar, with some additional steps to customize the ride. Smart Tow launch presets are numbered 1 through 5. No. 1 features the most gradual acceleration, while No. 5 is the most aggressive.

“Choosing the correct profile will depend on both the weight and experience level of the rider,” Miller said. “We suggest trying all acceleration profiles before anyone gets in to be towed.”

With the right launch profile, the rider will get perfect pulls every time without any uncertainty regarding how quickly the boat will accelerate. And you, as the driver, will enjoy an extra measure of confidence and control.

To operate Smart Tow, make sure your engine is running and in neutral. Tap the boat icon, which also might be called “Vessel Controls.”

Next, tap “Smart Tow,” and then tap the “Ski Tow” icon. Select your desired launch profile using the plus or minus icons, and then select your preferred cruising speed using the up and down arrows. Finally, tap the “On” icon. It will beep and turn orange when the system is enabled.

When the tow rope is tight and your rider is ready, push the throttle forward to maximum, and let Smart Tow do the rest. You can adjust your speed while underway using the up and down arrows.

If your rider falls, slow down and return to idle speed. The Smart Tow system will beep when it is ready to be used again. To deactivate the system, pull the throttle back to idle, shift to neutral and tap the “Off” icon.

That’s it! With a few taps on a screen, Mercury’s advanced engine control technology lets you easily deliver an exciting riding experience for your friends and family. Perfect rides for perfect days.

Boating Basics: Mercury Cruise Control & Smart Tow
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