When we used the iconic Douglas Marine-built 46-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran last month as a salute to this country’s Independence Day celebration (see Let Freedom Fly: Here’s to a Safe Fourth of July), we didn’t realize it would be the last time we featured Kansas performance boater Jim Lee as the owner of the Freedom US 1 Skater that he restored in 2001 after several years on the racecourse (and updated again in 2011).
During the 2015 Skaterfest in Michigan, well-known performance boater Jim Lee decided it was to move on from his 46-foot Freedom US 1 Skater (center) to the 46-foot Double Take Skater (right). Photo by Jay Nichols/Naples Image
You see Lee, a fixture on the poker run scene for more than a decade, decided to trade in his Skater for a more modern version—a 2002 46-foot catamaran called Double Take, which is powered by twin 1,400-hp Sterling Performance engines—after checking out the boat at last weekend’s Skaterfest in Michigan. The decision wasn’t easy for Lee, who raced the classic 46-footer as Zero Defect, then Big Thunder with the late Bob Morgan in the mid to late ’90s.
“I was hanging out at Skaterfest, which is hosted by my good friend Ron Szolack, and Double Take was sitting there because Ronnie had just bought it,” said Lee, who owns Lee Aerospace, which manufacturers aircraft and boat windshields. “I was thinking man that’s a beautiful boat. You know I build the wraparound windshields, right? Well I’ve been thinking about doing a full windshield on Freedom, but the boat isn’t really set up for it. It could be done, I just didn’t want to destroy the look of the boat—it’s so beautiful.
“On the other hand, Double Take is a newer flat-deck Skater with quarter-canopies and three seats in the back,” he continued. “The way it’s set up, it’s perfectly configured where we could put a wraparound windshield on it and widen the cockpit to get four seats across the back. The boat has fuel-injected Sterling engines so that was another thing I liked about it. I was thinking about updating the motors in Freedom to fuel injection one of these days.”
Go-fast catamarans don’t much more iconic than the Freedom US 1 46-foot Skater. Photo by Jay Nichols/Naples Image
With Freedom US 1 currently for sale at Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach., Mo., Lee said he plans on using Double Take the rest of this year starting with the upcoming Super Cat Fest on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks that takes place in late August during the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. He plans on starting the updates in early 2016.
“I’m thrilled to start a new chapter in Double Take—it’s an amazing boat,” said Lee, who is bringing his 28-foot Skater, also named Freedom, to Lake of the Ozarks in a few weeks. “I think it’s time to let someone else enjoy Freedom. I’m a little sad to see it go, but I’m sure someone else will have some fun with the big 46-footer.”
Letting Freedom Fly Here’s to a Safe Fourth of July
Skaterfest 2015 Wrap-Up: Five Years and Fantastic
Szolack to Have Three Skaters at Fifth Annual Skaterfest
Flashback by Jay Nichols: Freedom US 1 Skater at the 2009 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
Image of the Week: Skater Classic
Photo Essay: Jacksonville River Rally Charity Poker Run by Yvonne Aleman