Yamaha's National Marine Training Centre recently hosted the Yamaha Technician Grand Prix. The event brings together the very best Yamaha Marine Technicians from Yamaha dealerships all over Australia and New Zealand.

The Yamaha Marine Technician Grand Prix, which took place on the 16th of November 2016, is a technical knowledge and skills based contest, held at Yamaha’s National Marine Training facility in Brisbane. The event brings together the very best Yamaha Marine Technicians from Yamaha dealerships all over Australia and New Zealand. These exceptionally skilled technicians represent their dealership, state, and country, in their quest to be crowned the most outstanding marine technician in the Trans-Tasman region. 

The competition, held biennially, is a major highlight for the Yamaha Technical Academy (YTA), who pride themselves on the skills Yamaha technicians develop through the extensive training the academy delivers. YTA’s mission is to keep Yamaha’s Marine Technicians up to date with the cutting edge skills and knowledge required to support the ever developing range of Yamaha outboard engines.

Competitors must satisfy the following conditions before they are eligible to sit the initial qualification exam:

  • Participants must be nominated by their dealerships owner / manager.
  • Participants must be qualified technicians.
  • Participants must be a current Yamaha Technical Academy (YTA) members.
  • YTA members must have been in the Yamaha Dealer Network for 12 months or more.
  • YTA members must have attended Yamaha training.
  • YTA members must be an employee of a Yamaha dealership.
  • Previous Grand Prix Winners are ineligible to compete in future Technician Grand Prix competitions

After all potential candidates have completed the online qualifying assessment, eight finalists from regions across Australia and New Zealand are selected to compete in the official event.

The event breeds ambition and healthy competition within Yamaha workshops, as technicians aspire to be selected to attend the Grand Prix which is essentially race day in Yamaha`s Technical Academy program. The event keeps skill levels for marine servicing in Yamaha dealerships throughout Australia and New Zealand at very high levels.

The personal development of Yamaha technicians in the market through this training and testing equates to excellence in aftersales service for Yamaha customers, who consequently are the real winners from the knowledge and skills gained by Yamaha Technicians who take part in YTA’s programs. 

The Finalists:
Mathew Barlow Tristram Marine NZ
Brendan Morrisby Lewis Marine VIC
Angus Short Coast Road Motors SA
Graham Coulter Northside Marine QLD
Chris Willson Broadwater Boating Centre QLD
Peter Sertis Boat City WA
Tony Powell Telfer Marine NZ
Brett Muller Marina Bayside NSW

Tony and Peter both competed in 2014 and 2012, Chris in 2012 and 2011, and Brett in 2004. All others Finalists are new to the Yamaha Marine Technician Grand Prix.

The Tasks:
8 Practical tasks with a 25-minute time limit and a 10-minute break between are set to test finalists’ knowledge, skills and composure under pressure. A number is pulled from a hat to determine each contenders starting task.

The practical tasks are designed as such to test the technician’s ability to:

  • Follow instruction
  • Obtain relevant information from both questioning the customer (assessors can play the role of the customer also) and appropriate service literature
  • Apply critical thinking to solve complex problems
  • Utilise Yamaha Special Service Tools and Yamaha Systems to help diagnose faults that have been pre-programmed into the engines

The Finalists are presented with a scenario outlining what they are expected to complete during each of the tasks, a brief description of the tasks is outlined below.

Number Task Description

  1. Relay wiring - Wire in relays and a switch to operate a Power Trim and Tilt unit.
  2. ECM reprogramming - Three ECM reprogramming stations laptops, YDIS kits and ECM reprogramming simulators are setup for reprogramming.
  3. Water pump servicing - Demonstrate proficiency in removing lower unit, servicing water pump and refitting gearbox in an efficient manner.
  4. V8 Timing belt installation - Remove a used timing belt and install a new belt using the correct reference material, procedure and tools available.
  5. F200XCA No start - Demonstrate diagnostic skills using the available resources and tools to accurately determine the cause of fault(s) with the engine and explain the course of action for repair.
  6. F40 Hard starting - Correctly find the cause of starting issue, checking engine systems using manuals, tools and YDIS if required.
  7. F225XCA Poor performance - Engine exhibits a significant power loss and intermittently stalls when shifting. The technician is to demonstrate diagnostic skills using all available resources and is to determine the fault explaining the course of action for repair.
  8. F115B Throttle valve adjustment - Check the throttle valve setting and adjust if required using YDIS. YDIS has a feature in the “Maintenance section” that enables the technician to check the throttle valve setting so that the ISC valve can effectively control the engines idle speed under all conditions.

Once all practical tasks have been completed, finalists then tackle a theory based assessment containing both Yamaha specific and general knowledge technical questions.

The Results:

The Champion
From the outset Tony Powell of Telfer Marine in Rotorua New Zealand, was a standout performer and never looked like faltering. Tony’s enthusiasm, hunger and sheer determination allowed him to take out the event in a clear cut, concise manner. 

Tony hardly broke a sweat as he appeared to breeze through the challenges and finished with a commanding lead in one of the most outstanding efforts ever seen in a Tech GP competition.

“The Tech GP is a fantastic event that really tests and pushes personal up skilling. Yamaha staff out do themselves with excellent organization and hospitality of all technicians. The GP treats technicians to awesome benefits and acknowledgement of their learning to further develop their Yamaha product knowledge. I would highly recommend that all technicians regardless of experience try and achieve Tech GP involvement, you won’t be disappointed” – Tony declares.

As part of his prize Tony will be given the opportunity to visit Yamaha’s outboard factory in Japan after a hard earnt and well deserved victory.

The Runner Up
Tech GP Rookie, Mathew Barlow, of Tristram Marine in Hamilton New Zealand took out second place. His excellent attitude and composure proved extremely valuable. Mathew’s second place finish delivers a proud 1/2 result for the Kiwis, throwing down the gauntlet to the Aussie Technicians and taking yet another trophy back across the ditch. All finalists represented their region admirably, with less than 12 percent separating the remaining contenders. Yamaha Technical Academy, on behalf of Yamaha Motor Australia and New Zealand, wish to congratulate Tony, Mathew and all the finalists on an outstanding competition.

For more information, contact Brad Bowles, National Training Coordinator, Marine Products, Yamaha Motor Australia. 02 9827 7511.