There are various ways to get a super start, all involving using the controls of the boat during the 3-2-1 start sequence. The most effective is the boost super start — a way of getting a jump start at the beginning as well as a 4 second boost immediately. To pull this off, perform the following:
- Be holding the brake or boost control when the track appears.
- As soon as the figure 3 starts to fade, switch to the accelerate control.
- When the figure 2 starts to fade switch back to the brake/boost control.
- When the figure 1 starts to fade switch back to the accelerate control
Done correctly this will get you that jump start as well as a 4 second boost. You'll have to wait for the engines to switch to boost mode though.
Avoid hitting anything unless it's a ramp. If it's a ramp with arrows going up it, try to hit only one side of it while following the arrows to get the speed increase. The longer and flatter the ramp, the more speed increase it gives.
Use the checkpoint times as a guide to how well you are doing over previous runs. Be careful on circuit tracks not to over use the boost early on to gain the best split times as you will end up with none or next to no boost on the last lap.
For cornering try to take a longer, wider path along the turns and avoid sharp turns if you can. The less the boat turns at faster speeds, the less the speed you loose because of that turn. This is exactly the same principal as any road-based racing game, and is usually referred to as a "racing line" around the corner.
Get used to hydro-jumping, it's the only way you'll win on the harder tracks. Jump into the air and max out your speed using boosts. As soon as you are at maximum speed, let go of the boost and you will continue at that speed until you land or hit something. To perform a hydro jump, follow the sequence of accelerate-brake-boost (let go of each in turn). You will find better performance by overlapping the switch from brake to boost, with a higher jump corresponding to a longer overlap.
An extension of this is hydro-bouncing—hydro-jumps, one after the other. To pull this off, go through the sequence of performing another jump at the end of the current jump. Get it right and you'll jump straight back into the air. With a little boost you'll be right back up to max speed so you can kill the boost and preserve that max speed.
Score vs. Time
If you're just after high placements and not particularly interested in the times, then stick with the easy boats you get at the beginning, such as Damn the Torpedoes. The reason for this is the computer-controlled boats will go at a comparable speed to the boat you select, and the slower boats still boost at max speed giving you that added advantage.The computer-controlled boats however, are going at their slowest speeds in the game.
For setting times, you'll want to use a harder boat like Cut Throat. It's got stability, max speed (when not boosting) and the ability to fly well. While it's not the best at each specifically, it makes for an overall excellent combination.