Despite his full-throttle, joyful approach to pretty much everything in his life, Michael Tandoi of Rochester, N.Y., is thoughtful and methodical when it comes to his 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran dubbed Out of Control. Tandoi purchased the 2008 model-year cat in January 2020. By November that year, he had replaced its over-the-top 2,400-hp supercharged engines dialed into Arneson ASD-8 drives with more reasonable naturally aspirated Mercury Racing 860 engines.
Already back in Florida, New York’s Michael Tandoi tackled last week’s Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run in his 40-foot Skater catamaran freshly outfitted with twin 1,100-hp engines from Mercury Racing. Photo courtesy/copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club.
Based in Rochester, Aqua-Mania, handled the project and Tandoi enjoyed his repowered 40-footer for much of the late 2020, early 2021 poker-run season. As he learned the boat and became more comfortable with it, he began thinking about repowering once more—this time with Mercury Racing 1100s. And once again, he tapped his friend Rick Merola of Aqua-Mania for guidance.
With his friend, Barry Henson, handling the throttles and Tandoi on the wheel, the turbocharged-engines-repowered Out of Control Skater debuted last week during the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run. (Tandoi’s buddy John Strama throttled the cat on its return trip to North Miami as Henson had another obligation.)
“It’s something you can’t even explain,” said Tandoi when asked how he likes the engines in his cat. “The 860s were cool—they made that nice ‘bark’ that naturally aspirated engines do. But there’s nothing like hearing those turbos of the 1100s whistling behind you. With the 860s and a full load of fuel, getting on plane was a struggle. No problem now—the 1100s have the most responsive powerband I have ever experienced. It’s awesome.
“Rick Merola has been in the game a long time,” he added, then laughed. “He knows what kind of guy I am. He didn’t want me to go out and kill myself. He wanted me to ease my way into it, so we went first with the 860s.”
Enjoy more images from the Out of Control Skater repower project in the slideshow.
Merola intentionally took a conservative, cautious approach to the project.
“I am always concerned about people being ready for the power in their boats,” he explained. “I have seen too many instances of people, who aren’t with us anymore, getting in over their heads. Well, not on my watch. Just because someone can afford bigger power doesn’t mean I’ll do it. And Mike has been great about that. So we first put 860s in the boat and sent him down to Florida for the winter to get his feet wet.”
Repowering with the quad-cam-four valve 1,100-hp engines, the least powerful turbocharged mills offered by the Fond du Lac, Wis., high performance marine engine and accessories company, was far from a plug-and-play installation. It required new engine mounts, complete re-rigging, a new CMI exhaust system and new, beefier custom-built drop boxes from SCS Gearbox of Bellevue, Ohio. The drop boxes included heat sensors feeding information to a gauge.
But the only visible changes—at least for now—to the 40-footer are its equally custom new engine hatches.
“The original hatches wouldn’t close over the 1100s, so my friend, Dave Benton (of Benton’s Refrigeration in Cicero, N.Y), fabricated new hatches with scoops for me,” Tandoi said. “Now I own the molds for them.
“Dave also redid the bottom of the boat for me,” he added.
Tandoi returned to South Florida, where he has a second home, yesterday to run Out of Control this weekend. The cat is stored at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami under the care of Eric Giles of Extreme Marine, and minor exhaust system tweaks are being handled this week. High-performance marine industry veteran and former offshore racer Doug Valentine will join Tandoi in the cockpit and manage the cat for the 2022 season.
“Key West was amazing this year—Stu and Jackie Jones of the Florida Powerboat Club always do a great job,” Tandoi said. “And I have to thank Aaron Roberts of IR Designs, who does all my artwork and team jerseys. He completely went over the top this year. Red and black, the same colors of our engines, are now the official colors of ‘Team Tandoi.'”
A run to Key Biscayne for Key Largo for lunch is in the endlessly grateful, positive and spiritual New Yorker’s weekend plans.
“From the grace of god and my belief in his power he never once said you need to limit your goals,” Tandoi said. “He spoke words of moving mountains and if you ask for things no matter what they are with a true and sincere heart you shall receive them.
“So honestly, I’m just living the life I’ve spent so many years dreaming about,” he continued. “Although some would say this sport is ‘materialistic,’ I say otherwise. I say it’s the greatest community of boaters who all have common goals of speed, success and fun. The sky’s the limit.”
Thanks to IR Designs, Tandoi (second from left) and his crew earned the Florida Powerboat Club’s “Best-Dressed Team” award in Key West.