Thanks to a superb all-around team effort touted by Florida performance boater and Skater Powerboats fanatic Yves Belanger, the newest 50-foot catamaran from the Douglas, Mich.-based high-performance boat builder is exactly what the owner of Gibson Truck World in Sanford, Fla., wanted in his latest catamaran.
Skater Powerboats enthusiast Yves Belanger got a chance to run KONG, his new 50-foot Skater catamaran, last weekend out of Miami’s TNT Custom Marine, which finished rigging the boat and installing its interior last week. Photos courtesy Yves Belanger
Powered by twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines and featuring an extremely detailed paintjob and interior inspired by the 2017 movie “Kong: Skull Island,” Belanger’s Skater 50 dubbed KONG was water-tested last weekend when the team from TNT Custom Marine in North Miami launched the radical catamaran for the first time.
“It is absolutely perfect—everyone involved with the boat did an unbelievable job,” said Belanger, who sold his G-Force Skater 438, which also has twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines, a few months ago. “I can’t believe how well it all came together. Johnny (TNT co-owner John Tomlinson) and I took the boat out for a shakedown on Saturday and my wife, Kyra, and I used it the rest of the weekend. It is amazing; the boat runs great. TNT has a few things to work on to get it dialed in before I come back to Miami in a couple of weeks to run it again.”
Belanger, who plans to run KONG in the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run in November, made sure to recognize everyone who had a hand in the boat starting with Peter Hledin and the team at Skater Powerboats that got the boat constructed and delivered to Doug Harrell Designs where the 50-footer was painted with the utmost attention to detail thanks to the Longwood, Fla.-based crew that worked closely with a local airbrush artist, Travis Wilson, who handled the meticulous artwork on the underside of the boat’s hatches and the King Kong depictions on the hullsides.
After the graphics were completed and while the interior components for the six-seat cockpit were being hand-crafted by Cutting Edge Interiors’ Jamie Borg (the same standout upholstery and fabrication expert in Punta Gorda, Fla., who did the interior for G-Force), the boat was delivered to TNT Custom Marine for the rigging side of the new build.
Tomlinson said the team at TNT took a couple of months to rig the 50-footer and its turbocharged dual-calibration QC4v engines before dropping in the detailed green, gray and white interior and the accompanying hand-stitched steering wheel wrap last week.
“We didn’t get to run the boat up to speed but we got it up to 147 mph approaching 6,000 rpm,” Tomlinson said. “We need to adjust the water pickups and do a little more testing, but we’re thinking it should be a 160-mph boat in 1350 mode. It is a wave-crusher, that’s for sure, which is what Yves wanted.”
Check out detail images of the 50-foot Skater, including its custom interior, airbrushed deck hatches and more, in the slideshow above.
Belanger, who keeps his boat at TNT and plans to run it whenever he’s in Miami at his second home, enjoyed having the Skater close to him while all of the finishing touches were handled.
“It was nice because I was able to go to Doug’s shop every other week to see the boat being painted,” Belanger said. “And when it was at TNT, it was easy for me to go there so they could make sure everything, such as the controls placement and the distance between my seat and the steering wheel, was exactly where I wanted it.”
Belanger added that Borg, who surprised him and Kyra by crafting a handmade towel bag for her complete with a skull logo to match a part of the boat’s graphics, did a tremendous job with the interior details.
“Jamie is such a pleasure to work with and his workmanship is just fantastic,” Belanger said. “It’s pretty remarkable what he does all by himself. He does that things that machines can’t do.”
Belanger said he has a feeling he’s going to hang onto KONG for some time.
“I love having the 50 because it’s a bigger boat that allows me be in the ocean in three- to four-foot seas cruising at 120-plus mph—that’s my type of boating,” Belanger said. “The 438 was a great boat and it was much faster, by probably 15 mph than the 50 with the same power, but I wanted something a little larger for the ocean. I don’t need to go any faster than KONG will go anyway.”
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