Mike D’Anniballe and Connie Cushing treated their guests to a wild ride in their Skater 388 catamaran during the Boyne Thunder Poker Run earlier this month. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
When you think of legendary high-performance marine engine man Mike D’Anniballe of Sterling Performance Engines in Milford, Mich., you probably see him outside a dynamometer cell watching one of his creations make horsepower or standing in the pits with one of the Superboat-class teams using his engines on the Super Boat International offshore racing circuit. For the most part, you picture him working, not blasting his way through a poker run.
Thanks to couple of in-cockpit videos shot during this month’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Boyne City, Mich., and sent to us by Connie Cushing, D’Anniballe’s wife, you may see the noted engine builder in a whole new light. Cushing and D’Anniballe own a Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran with 1,100-hp Sterling Performance engines. They showcased the 38-footer at the Skater docks during the 2017 Miami International Boat Show and we featured it in our March/April Speed On The Water digital magazine. Though it isn’t their first boat—far from it—it’s definitely their favorite.
“That Skater 388 is one happy-ass boat,” said D’Anniballe, who has participated in the Boyne Thunder Poker Run eight times and has been an event sponsor for several years. “It’s unbelievable how well it turns. The more gas you give it, the better it turns.”
D’Anniballe and Cushing were joined by their friends Carl and Patty Chase (Carl shot the videos in this article) as well as 30-year-old Victoria Hledin—the daughter of Skater’s founder Peter Hledin and his wife, Maria—and her boyfriend, Tom.
“It was bumpy out there, but nothing terrible,” said D’Anniballe, who had to skip the last card stop in Harbor Springs as the boat was low on fuel. “You know, it was the usual Lake Michigan combination of rollers with chop and boat wakes going in all different directions with no consistency to them. I know Victoria had been in a Skater before but I think it was her boyfriend’s first time.”
Said Victoria Hledin, who hadn’t ridden in a Skater since she was in college, “I kind of was nervous at first, but the boat just runs so smoothly. It was great. Connie is such a great driver and Mike is a great throttleman.”
D’Anniballe said that while he might participate in the Florida Powerboat Club’s upcoming Emerald Coast Poker Run, he’s out for this year’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. But after Boyne Thunder, he’s looking forward to running his Skater 388 again in the near future. We can only hope someone onboard gets video.
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