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Image Of The Week: Interview With A Legend

Like a lot of people, I don’t enjoy looking at pictures of myself. I see nothing but flaws. Every photo I see of myself reminds me why I’m far more comfortable behind a keyboard than I am in front of a camera.

A couple of longtime friends Peter Hledin (left) of Skater Powerboats and speedonthewater.com’s Matt Trulio sat down for multiple video interviews in January. Photo by Ryan Wenk copyright Scrapyard Media.

But I will cherish the image above for the rest of my life.

Ryan Wenk of Scrapyard Media, the Michigan-based production company handling Speed On The Water’s “In The Lead” video series, captured this image in January during one of several interviews I did with Skater Powerboats founder/owner Peter Hledin at his headquarters in Douglas, Mich. The Peter Hledin episode of the second-year series powered by Mercury Racing, with additional backing from MYCO Trailers, Hamilton Marine Finance, Bluave Marine Audio, CP Performance, Hardin Marine, The Firm Realty Group and The Firm Racing Team, went live last week. And it’s been getting raves.

But that’s not why this photo is special to me. One of the first profiles I wrote for Powerboat magazine focused on Peter Hledin. In early 2000, photographer Tom Newby and I spent two days at the Skater facility and—true to form—Hledin put me through the wringer.

He started with this: “What qualifies you to write about Skater?”

I stuttered out my professional resume and less-than-extensive powerboating record, which at the time was limited to fishing boats of the Boston Whaler and Wellcraft kind.

Hledin was unimpressed. He sighed and shrugged.

“Well, I guess that makes you qualified,” he said, then chuckled.

CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO WATCH “IN THE LEAD WITH PETER HLEDIN.”

The profile that ran a few months later in Powerboat was titled “Tunnel Visionary.” Someone told me Hledin liked it, though I never heard from him directly. (This is a good thing with profile subjects because, trust me, if they don’t like the story you will hear about it if you’re the author.)

During the next 20 years, we developed a solid friendship. For the past 10 years, we’ve had a standing Friday night dinner at AB Lobster restaurant in Key West, Fla, during the offshore world championships in early November. Our respective teammates including speedonthewater.com’s Jason Johnson and Skater’s Tony Cutsuries always join us. No expense gets spared with the food and drink, and the laughs, jokes and good-natured, cross-table abuse are nonstop.

There’s nothing I look more forward to during our annual trip to Key West than that dinner.

Straight up? Peter Hledin can be grumpy and stubborn and charming and gracious all in the same 30 seconds. In other words, he’s human. But when it comes to creative brilliance—and don’t even get me started on his work ethic—he’s super-human. Like many of you, I am in awe of the man’s talent and I’m honored to count him as a friend.

He’s a living legend. And on a January day in Michigan, I got to interview him.

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