The SHOXS Pro Team is a group of influential boaters and offshore anglers passionate about keeping people safe and injury-free on the water. (They might get some cool SHOXS gear, too.) Our Pro Team staff embodies our values and represents the SHOXS mission out on the water.
Interested in learning more about joining the SHOXS Pro Team?
In 1998, Captain Mike Schoonveld pioneered operating “limited-load,” relatively small boat charters on the Great Lakes. Prior to this almost all charter operations on the Great Lakes were conducted on six-passenger or larger, cabin cruisers.
Schoonveld’s Brother Nature Fishing Adventures, catering to couples, families and small groups on a 21-foot open boat, proved to be a successful business model. Dozens of other captains around the Great Lakes now provide affordable access to exciting fishing action on these inland seas on smaller-sized boats at affordable rates.
The Azimut Challenge is a 48 hour offshore sailing race leading up to the “Holy Grail” for solo sailors, the Vendée Globe. The Vendée Globe is the only non-stop, unassisted sailing race around the world on 60-foot International Monohull Open Class Assocation (IMOCA) sailboats. Setting sail from Les Sables d-Olonne, France every four years, it is a popular race that appeals to young and old alike with attendance of more than 2 million visitors.
Naturally, such exceptional international events require nonstop journalistic and media coverage. Members of the press, following the racers in small chase boats, are subjected to high winds and waves as they attempt to steady their cameras to capture the action.
Michael Hall, owner of an engineering consulting firm in Corpus Christi, Texas, likes to fish a little differently than most. Most people use their fishing boat as a tool to catch fish offshore via trolling; Michael gets up close and personal – holding his breath and fishing using a speargun. While most of his fishing happens outside of the boat getting to the spots quickly and in one piece is critical.
Living on the Western-most portion of the Gulf of Mexico lends itself to a steep, tight chop. Unless your boat is 35+ feet long, you don’t have much of a choice but to go slow. For Michael, slow isn’t really an option. “My fishing mates often tell newcomers to the boat that I have two settings while driving: idle or full throttle.” His need for speed is what initially got him interested in shock mitigating seating. “While my body can take a bruising, I wanted to ensure my knees and back stayed limber so that I can continue to fish my entire life. I figured adding shock mitigating seats to my boat was a cheaper alternative to buying a new boat 6+ feet longer than my current one.”
For Joe Abeyta, running a TowBoatU.S. division is a family affair. Joe, a 24-year veteran of the United States Coast Guard, and his brother Thomas Griffin, a Merchant Marine with a 1600-Ton Master license, along with their wives, Layla and Kirsten, run Allwater Marine Services, a fifth generation family-owned business in Charleston, South Carolina.
The company acquired the TowBoatU.S. Charleston brand in December 2019.
Gwenael Kipson grew up in the Brittany region of France, and discovered the joys of sailing and navigation early on. He began to sail more seriously with semi-rigid hull craft at the age of 18, and went on to follow several offshore races and nautical events. The Route du Rhum, a transatlantic single-handed yacht race taking place every 4 years between St. Malo and Guadeloupe was one of the events with which he was involved.
In addition, he handled event safety in international jet races, fly boarder security, offshore race starts, and even treasure hunts. He was part of the team to train an officer of the Royal Navy who successfully crossed from Senegal, Africa, to Guyana.
“We wanted some of these amazing seats to make our fishing tournaments a little more comfortable. The quality is unbelievable, and we trust they’ll keep our team from getting injured during competitions.”
The boating lifestyle has always been in Eric Bartolozzi’s blood. Originally a Northerner, he now lives on the east coast of central Florida, with not one, but two boats floating at the dock behind his house. Escaping to the Caribbean islands in search of snapper in his 55’ Hatteras sportfish allows him some down time among the busy seasons of running a landscape design company, and he makes the trip every chance he gets. During tournament season, his fishing team, Team My Escape, hits the southeast circuit of offshore competitions.
During a recent extensive refurbishment on the Hatteras that included constructing the dash out of black carbon fiber, he needed to update the original helm seating. The captains’ chairs had ripped fabric, a broken backrest, and white upholstery that didn’t match the new helm design. After searching for some time for replacement helm seating, he decided that a pair of black SHOXS 3200-X8 seats would complement the look of the dash, while giving him the shock mitigation necessary for his frequent trips across the Atlantic.
Born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Brent Story spent many of his childhood days fishing with friends and family. Angling turned into an obsession during his teens and led to the pursuit of professional guiding. Brent has guided the Pacific Northwest waters of Haida Gwaii and as far south as Central America. Today, he runs a busy guide service out of British Columbia called Pacific Pro Charters, hunting salmon, halibut and lingcod off the coast of Vancouver Island.
His boat, Chasin' Tail, is a 30' Northwest Aluminum Craft, and built to handle the rough waters of the Pacific Northwest. Regardless, long days on the water took a toll, and Brent decided to install shock-mitigating seating in his boat. After some investigation, he chose a SHOXS 6155 helm seat and two SHOXS 6300 companion seats to relieve the impacts from the waves, not just for him, but for anyone riding shotgun as well. "It's nice when you have the seats, especially when you're running out every day," he says. "There are other seats out there, but they just don't hold up." He says his clients are more comfortable, and they can run offshore harder and stay out longer without suffering the consequences of a rough ride the next day.
A Record-Setting High-Performance Watercraft Pioneer
Frank Kowalski is the owner and general manager of Safehaven Marine in Cork, Ireland.
Frank has a long history in the commercial marine industry and spent many days on the water in bad weather and rough-riding boats. This led to an intimate understanding of what constitutes a vessel’s seakeeping abilities and an appreciation for a boat’s ability to inspire confidence and a feeling of safety in the crew. He now designs and builds commercial pilot vessels and workboats and is gearing up to set a new Transatlantic record in a high speed patrol craft, Thunder Child II, using SHOXS seating for the crew and helmsman.
Having the best shock mitigation seating was essential
Dave is a fifth-generation outdoorsman and makes it his life’s work to share his passion for hunting, fishing, and farming while pursuing his professional life as a real estate and land use lawyer.
Dave’s specialties are albacore tuna off the Oregon and Washington coasts, and in the summertime, he runs a small day-boat style commercial tuna fishing company for the local fresh markets. He routinely runs miles offshore in his 28’ Grady White, in all kinds of weather and sea conditions, and for this reason he recently swapped his helm chairs out for two SHOXS 3700-X4 shock mitigating seats.
Anyone who travels long distances on the water needs to put shock-mitigating seats on their boats – it makes a world of difference.