Started by Skater Powerboats fan and general high-performance powerboat horse-trader Ron Szolack, Skaterfest was “rebranded”—so to speak—last year as “Weekend At Ronnie’s.” That translated to a shorter guest list for the annual early August Detroit Metro area celebration of the coveted creations from the Douglas, Mich., company for the weekend.
No matter how many times you see Todd Fountain’s 46-foot Tom Cat Skater catamaran in action, it never gets old. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
So instead of what once grew to a 30-plus fleet of Skater catamarans, their owners and a few special guests in town for two days of lunch runs on Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River, raucous group meals and evening hijinks, translated to 15 cats and a more intimate group at last weekend’s happening.
“We had a great time, as usual,” Szolack said. “Just like last year, we ran to Cabana Blue for lunch on Friday and Pepper Joe’s for lunch on Saturday.”
A couple of Skaterfest—make that Weekend at Ronnie’s—veterans, Chris LaMorte of New Jersey and South Florida’s Erik Breckenfelder arrived minus their spouses and made it a boys weekend. They ran LaMorte’s 36-foot Skater rather than Breckenfelder’s cat as the 28-footer currently is being repowered with 400-hp Mercury Racing ROS outboard engines.
The helicopter secured for photographer Pete Boden experienced mechanical issues in flight, but that didn’t stop him from capturing fine water-level images.
“The weather was good and the company was even better,” said LaMorte. “Ronnie is a great host and I have to give a big thanks to the guys who picked up the lunches and dinner.”
“On Saturday Justin and Johnna Beischel and their son, Beau, came with us,” he added.
Among the weekend meal benefactors, which included Friday and Saturday night dinners at Metro Park catered by Luigi’s, were Danny DeSantis, Steve Gordon, Todd Fountain, Don Doty and Mark Campbell. As usual, Szolack picked up the tab for the Metro Park area and rental slips and event T-shirts.
No Weekend At Ronnie’s event would be complete without Todd Fountain, Ron Szolack and Danny DeSantis.
The happening also delighted Breckenfelder, who has been boat-less for much of the 2023. Like most of his Weekend At Ronnie’s cohorts, he described it as his “favorite event of the year.”
“Camaraderie among those in the Skater community isn’t just talk—it’s real,” he said. “Why? Most everyone is willing to lend a hand, from changing a starter-motor to backing a trailer down the launch ramp or wiping a boat down—all for the shared appreciation and enthusiasm of some of the remarkable boats on the water.”
The faces of the 2023 version of Weekend At Ronnie’s.
A McLaren automobile dealer with locations in Boston and North Carolina, DeSantis once again brought his McLaren-themed support trailer to be the event’s Metro Park home-base behind the public docks. Though he’s owned “every Skater model ever built,” DeSantis currently owns a Skater 426 catamaran.
“Everyone had a blast,” he said.
While a new “official” Skaterfest spearhead by RP Elite Motors and Marine outside of Dallas is slated to happen next August on Lake Texoma, Szolack insists that the 2024 version of Weekend At Ronnie’s will be based out of his new home at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. His waterfront residence should be complete next month.
“But I am going to have it in the fall,” said Szolack. “So it’s not so hot.”
Danny DeSantis and friends enjoyed the weekend in his 42-foot Skater.
Asked how he felt about the planned relocation of the Szolack-hosted happening from its longtime Michigan home to the wilds of Missouri in 2024, DeSantis laughed. Szolack has been known, on occasion, to shift his thinking around the event.
“One day at a time” he said, then chuckled again. “That’s a long way off. So we will figure that out when it comes time.”
Heading to the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri next year, Weekend At Ronnie’s is sure to draw its usual gathering of rabid Skater fans.