For those who have been Speedonthewater.com readers for some time, it should come as no surprise that Michigan performance boaters Burton and Yvette Kirsten would be the first people to order an MTI 390XR, the Wentzville, Mo., company’s new canopied version of its popular 39-foot twin-engine catamaran. It also should come as no surprise that the Kirstens were partly responsible for MTI deciding to offer a pleasure boat offering similar to the manufacturer’s 450R Factory Stock-class raceboat in the first place.
MTI is going to start building its canopied 390X catamaran in a pleasure boat version, with the first two set to hit the water next summer. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
The fun-loving couple has owned two MTI catamarans as of late—the Lil’ Jet 340X and the delivered-this-spring Jetster 390X, both of which featured Mercury Racing 450R engines—and several Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats models, including a pair of 46-foot closed-canopy catamarans, Jet and MAX. And the fact that the Kirstens have teamed up, if you will, with their friend from Minnesota who also has a longtime affiliation with Outerlimits, Adam Seraphine, to build the first two MTI 390XR catamarans is a pretty cool story. Especially because they came up with the idea together, with assistance, of course, from Rusty Williams (from left with Seraphine and Kirsten below) of Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach, Mo.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to do this with Adam—he is so excited and the guy has such a big heart,” Burton Kirsten said. “We’ve been talking about the canopied, outboard-powered boat idea for a while now so we have a lot of ideas we’re going to be working with MTI to accomplish. I’ve built a lot of boats over the years and I’m all about coming up with new ideas, whether it’s my idea or someone else’s idea. I do it in my own business, too. We’re always trying to find ways to make things better.
“I’ve really enjoyed the outboard boats—don’t get me wrong I love Jet and the power of the Mercury Racing 1350 engines, but the 450R engines are incredible,” he added. “Once you have a couple of breakdowns with the big power and the repair bill that comes with those, it’s easy to talk yourself into the outboards. The MTIs are great boats. They look good and they’re fun to drive. I can’t say enough good things about Rusty and the whole team at Performance Boat Center. I’ve been boating my whole life and I still can’t get over how well PBC has treated me these last few years. The coolest thing about buying a boat from Rusty is that he spends the time teaching you how to drive it.”
Seraphine is particularly excited about the build because it’s the first time he’s ever ordered a new boat and because he is going to have Burton’s and Rusty’s involvement to guide him through the process.
“Like a lot of boaters, I’ve been looking at outboard product for some time,” Seraphine said. “What’s funny is that Burton and I have been talking about how there aren’t any good canopy options out there and why that is. I think after enough times of hearing us complain about it, Rusty decided to have a more serious discussion with us about some options. It took off from there.”
Seraphine added that Williams ended up putting them in touch with MTI owner Randy Scism and they scheduled a meeting for a few weeks later when they were all going to be at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks—MTI’s home waterway—together.
“We met with Randy and Taylor (Scism’s daughter and MTI’s client relations manager) at Performance and were pleasantly surprised at how much they showed up with at the meeting,” Seraphine said. “They had preliminary renderings and some thoughts on how it would come together inside and out. I’d been in Burton’s new 390X a few times before the meeting so I knew how it performed and that I wanted something in that size range. A canopied version of that boat with five seats, two up front and three in the back, seemed like the perfect boat to me. The canopy is going to have two hatches, one over each set of seats, too, just like the Outerlimits.
“I’m super excited to be able to make this boat my own—I’ve always had used boats, which come with some kind of sacrifice because you’re buying someone else’s thoughts and dreams and ideas,” added Seraphine, who is likely going to go with a solid-red paintjob with a black bottom, similar to that of his Outerlimits SV 43 that is powered by twin Mercury Racing 700SCi engines. “I have a feeling having someone like Burton, who has built multiple new boats and isn’t afraid to offer his insight, is going to help the process go smoothly. I can’t wait to see what MTI comes up with in terms of fit and finish for the boat. Burton and I have already given them ideas in terms of style and other things we want, such as air conditioning, which is a must.”
MTI shared this rendering of its 390XR with Kirsten and Seraphine during a meeting at Lake of the Ozarks.
Both Kirsten and Seraphine said that safety and weather are the two reasons they enjoy owning canopy boats.
“For me it just makes sense, it really does,” Kirsten said. “It’s so comfortable to be out of the wind and the heat on the days like we experienced this year during Shootout week at the lake. Plus it extends the season for boating on cooler days at the lake or back home.”
Thanks to his canopied Outerlimits, Seraphine said he’s boated in 50-degree and 100-degree weather and appreciates that he and his passengers don’t have to worry about sun or wind fatigue during a sweltering day on the water.
“While the weather aspect is a contributing factor for why I wanted this boat, it’s also about the safety factor,” Seraphine said. “Everyone is going to strapped in with five-point harnesses and a canopy over heads. I’ve always taken safety seriously—you can ask the 10 or 12 people that I’ve actually let ride with me (laughs). Everyone who has been in my boat understands the safety factors and the escape plan if something happens to go wrong.”
Seraphine, whose catamaran experience has come in the form of taking the wheel with friends like Kirsten from time to time, added that he’s eager to get more seat time in his own cat, which he expects to be delivered late July 2022.
“I’m mainly excited to try something new,” Seraphine explained. “I’m also excited to be able to put a friend behind the wheel while I run the throttles. I like the idea of it being a more collaborative effort.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images of Adam Seraphine and Burton and Yvette Kirsten with their friends and their boats. Photos courtesy Pete Boden, Jeff Helmkamp and Adam Seraphine.
Kirsten said that Performance Boat Center already has a deposit on Jetser but that the next owner of the 390X has to wait until after the Key West Poker Run in November to get it.
“When Rusty told us Burton really wanted to build a closed-canopy 390X we took it seriously because we’d been considering building a deck mold for the raceboat to make it more production friendly anyway,” said Taylor Scism. “Currently we use the 390X molds and put the canopy on after the fact. We have high safety standards; we use the same safety equipment and lamination schedule that we used when working with the Abu Dhabi team on its XCAT boat. It’s all UIM standards so it’s the highest standards we could meet.”
Taylor Scism said the same standards are going into the new pleasure boats, which she added could be used for both recreation and racing, if a customer was so inclined.
“We’ve done some four-seater raceboats in the past, but when we built our first 390X raceboat we built it with two seats because it’s pretty much a test platform for the new class,” she said. “And so far, so good. The 450R seems to be a reliable package for racing. And we’ve really put the engines to the test between racing, testing and top-speed shootouts. When I was with John Tomlinson at the last race, he said with the amount of testing we’ve done in our boat that he would have had to rebuild the engines in his Supercat-class boat two times already. I think there’s a lot of potential for this class.”
She also thinks having a four- or five-seat raceboat is a good idea so that they can take potential racers or media and sponsors for demo rides.
“We are building our team’s next raceboat now and we might build it with the extra seats so that we can run it in poker runs next season as well,” Scism said. “That’s the beauty of this boat. It can race one weekend and pleasure boat the next. The benefit of the canopy is that it can extend your boating season on both ends.”
Editor’s note: Speedonthewater.com plans to follow the build of both MTIs over the next year.
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