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MTI At 25—Phantom Of The Poker Run

A larger-than-life-personality from the Lone Star State, Kenny Armstrong of Dickinson, Texas, became well known in the high-performance powerboating community for several reasons. First, he owns a 2012 model-year 48-foot MTI catamaran dubbed Phantom. The Mercury Racing 1350 engine-powered catamaran is painted not just to pay homage for Armstrong’s favorite musical, it takes a few color cues from his Rolls-Royce Phantom-model luxury automobile.

A longtime Florida Powerboat Club member, Kenny Armstrong ran Phantom in the club’s 2022 Orange Beach Powerboat Week Poker Run. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Second, though he doesn’t make it to as many Florida Powerboat Club poker run events as he used to, he was fixture on the club’s poker-run circuit for more than 10 years.

“I think he’s done a dozen to 15 poker runs with us,” said Stu Jones, the president of the club.

Last and anything but least, Armstrong has hosted a massive pool party as his home during the Texas Outlaw Challenge since the early days of the happening. The party became notorious in the go-fast boating for its ability to accommodate a large fleet at Armstrong’s private docks and handle a few hundred folks in its expansive system of swimming pools.

“There had to be more than 1,000 people there,” said Ryan Johnson, former speedonthewater.com team member who attended the event and Armstrong’s infamous bash. “We guessed there were at least 150 boats stacked in rows in the channel, not to mention boats beached on Armstrong’s personal beach.”

Thanks to the parties he’s thrown during the annual Texas Outlaw Challenge, Kenny Armstrong’s expansive waterfront home has become almost as well known as his boat.

Beyond Florida Powerboat Club happenings, the 48-footer, which was painted in house at MTI in Wentzville, Mo., has appeared at events across the country, from the Desert Storm Poker Run in Arizona to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout and Super Cat Fest in Central Missouri. For Armstrong, Phantom always has been as much a platform for socializing as it has been for quick 160-plus-mph blasts on the water. To that end, he had MTI build it with a then-usual eight seats in the cockpit.

“I wanted more seats in the boat so we could show more people a good time than we can in my MTI 44-footer,” he said in a 2012 Powerboating In Paradise magazine—the Florida Powerboat Club’s own publication—article authored by speedonthewater.com co-publisher Jason Johnson. “I wanted it to be like a big Rolls-Royce. Then I came up with the Phantom of the Opera idea and MTI ran with it.”

There’s never a dull moment with Texan Kenny Armstrong and his famed Phantom MTI catamaran.

Johnson recalled his time interviewing the affable Texan.

“I was definitely not sure what to expect from him,” he said. “I knew he would know how to have a good time, but he was down to earth, very funny and pretty humble considering he started his dehumidification business on his own and turned it into an international business.”

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