When Northern California boater Mike Avila first started thinking about buying an offshore catamaran to add to his collection of boats, he wasn’t quite sure what type of boat he had in mind. Fortunately for him, he had several close friends in his home away from home—Discover Bay, Calif.—that he could rely on for advice, as well as many people he’s met throughout his nearly 50-year ski-racing career.
In the end, it was one of his ski-race counterparts, who just so happens to be one of his fiercest competitors, who led him to the boat he took delivery of just in time for Memorial Day weekend—a 2012 Nordic Boats 43-foot catamaran powered by a pair Mercury Racing 1350 engines.
Mike Avila spent the Memorial Day weekend enjoy his new ride, a 43-foot catamaran from Nordic Boats. Photos courtesy Mike Avila
Avila bought the boat from longtime ski-racing rival Randy Davis, who has owned the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., boat manufacturer for more than 10 years. The decision may come as a surprise to some people since it seems like the battle to the finish line each year at the historic Catalina Ski Race from Long Beach, Calif., to Catalina Island and back comes down to a drag race between Avila and Davis, who is usually towing Southern California’s Todd Haig, the world champion skier who has won the event’s Open class more than any other racer.
“Randy and I are tough competitors, but we’re buddies off the racecourse,” said Avila, who is planning to bring the 43-foot cat to the SCOPE Poker Run (Sept. 23-25) in Long Beach but will not use it in the Catalina Ski Race in July. Instead he’ll be running Mr. Warpath, his 47-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom powered by triple 1,000-hp BoostPowerUSA engines. “This boat was Randy’s personal show boat so I knew it had been well kept. So we made a deal for the boat and the team at Nordic went to work making some changes to the boat for me.”
Avila wanted a little more color on the catamaran—most of his boats are bright orange—so Nordic’s talented gelcoat team went to work customizing the boat. The team added color in the gelcoat to the hullsides, the deck and the engines hatches. It also painted the name—Warpath VI—on each side of the boat.
Along with the graphics updates, Nordic sent the turbocharged engines to Mercury to be refreshed before re-installing them in the boat. Per Avila’s request, the crew also installed custom switchable controls in the boat.
“I’ve been driving fast boats since I was 13 years old and I was taught on flat bottoms, which had a foot pedal and an override pedal, so when I started building boats for myself, I’ve always kept the foot throttle,” said Avila, who enlisted Prime Marine to build a custom electronic split pedal design that controls the throttle and the trim.
The system, which features fly-by-wire technology and an electronic plate that moves the foot controls forward and back to accommodate other drivers, can be switched over for more conventional hand-controlled throttle and trim at the helm.
“We only had the boat out for a short time, but it ran well and Mike seemed very happy with it,” said Nordic’s Freddy Brennan, who delivered the boat to Avila’s home in Discovery Bay on Friday. “He’s excited about getting more seat time in it and becoming more comfortable with it. All I know is that the waterways are much different up here so I’m glad Mike knew where he was going.
“I really like the updated graphics on the boat—they made a big difference,” he continued. “The foot throttle is cool, too. Mike wanted that and I think it’s a nice concept. All of our ski-race boats are set up that way so it makes sense if that’s how you’re used to driving. We’re excited to have that boat in Mike’s hands up there on the California Delta. He knows a lot of people so I’m sure it will get plenty of attention.”
Avila said he is planning to take the boat, which will be maintained by Jimmy Anderson and the team at Ace Marine in Petaluma, Calif., to a few events this summer, including the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri and maybe even a poker run in Florida.
“I have to say I was surprised how nimble the boat was at slower speeds,” Avila said after running the boat on Friday. “It also was amazing how well it responded when we were running along at 100 mph and stepped on it. We were fully loaded with 400 gallons of fuel and we had the boat running 136 mph on a short straightaway. A little later we ran it up to 142 mph and it would definitely keep climbing if we had more room.”
Above being able to go fast, Avila said the thing he was most excited about was seeing his father’s reaction after getting a chance to ride in the 43-footer. Avila didn’t have to wait long as his father, Richard, took a ride in the boat on Saturday and was blown away.
“He absolutely loved it and said he’s never been in anything like it,” said Avila, who called his father the greatest and most respected man he has ever met. “He is very proud and that in returns make me very proud.
“I’ve owned some large offshore V-bottoms and some smaller cats, but I’ve never owned a big cat like this—I can already tell I’m going to have a lot of fun with this boat,” he continued. “It really is an amazing piece—and it’s more ‘Warpath’ style now with the new graphics. They only thing it needs now is a big No. 11 on it.”
After spending the weekend with his new ride, Avila made sure to thank the entire staff at Nordic for coming through on time with the custom touches he requested.
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