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Project: Getting Out Of Control, Under Control

Built in 2008 as a top-speed shootout boat, the 40-foot Out of Control Skater Powerboats catamaran began its life with a pair of temperamental 2,400-hp turbocharged engines under its hatches an Arneson ASD-8 surface drives on its transom. By all accounts, the rudder-steered beauty with that massive power package was a handful and—by high-performance pleasure-boat standards—less than user friendly.

Michael Tandoi ran his repowered 40-foot Skater catamaran for the first time the 2020 Florida Powerboat Club Poker Run. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Jeff Helmkamp Photography.

That was then. Now, thanks to owner Michael Tandoi of Rochester, N.Y., and Rick Merola and company at Aqua-Mania in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., Out of Control is a far-more-manageable beauty powered by twin Mercury Racing 860 engines, the Fond du Lac, Wis., company’s sole naturally aspirated offering in its quad-cam four-valve engine series.

A lifelong powerboat enthusiast who has owned several boats from a 35-foot Motion catamaran to a 40-foot Formula cruiser, Tandoi bought the low-hour Skater in January from then-owner Al Burns In Arizona and spent the next eight months having Aqua-Mania repower and re-rig it. Last week during the Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker Run, he ran it for the first time.

“I took my time with it,”  said Tandoi, who owns a second home in South Florida. “It’s my first boat with surface drives so I had to learn how to turn it without using the steering wheel at low speed, and steer it with the rudder a high speed. I feel confident now.

Through an extensive repower project with new Mercury Racing 860 engines, the Aqua-Mania team transformed Out of Control Skater from a purpose-built rocket to an all-around high-performance pleasure boat.

“One of the best things about the boat now is its reliability with the 860s—I don’t think you can find a more-reliable package than the 860,” said Merola. “I did not have one ounce of reservation that Mike would drive it to Key West and back. It’s really, really fun to drive and it does everything well. It doesn’t even have the mid-range hop you see in a lot of cats.”

Merola described repowering the 40-footer, which retained its Arneson drives and rudder, as a “massive de-rig and re-rig project.” The task involved fabricating new motor mounts to properly position the engines—and shift the cat’s center of gravity slightly forward—and installing custom-built drop-boxes (with bolt patterns matched to the Arneson units) from SCS Gearbox in Bellevue, Ohio, as well as adding custom-fabricated drive shafts.

As a by-product of the repower and re-rig, the catamaran lost several hundred pounds. The boat currently tops out in the mid-130-mph range, though Merola and Tandoi are not done testing propellers.

Tandoi will log plenty of his time behind the wheel of Out of Control in Florida this winter before bringing back the boat cat to New York next summer. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Tandoi plans to run Out of Control in South Florida, where it will be maintained by Extreme Marine and housed at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami, this winter. In April, the cat will be hauled back to Aqua-Mania, where it will kept up during the 2021 boating season. The owner plans to campaign it in next year’s 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton, N.Y., as well as bring it to the 2021 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout and Super Cat Fest in Central Missouri. He’s also aiming to run a full season with the Florida Powerboat Club.

“Stu and Jackie Jones always treat me amazingly well,” said Tandoi. “Every event they produce, I’m there.”

That includes the club’s 2021 Key West poker run, of course.

“My dream is to have Out of Control on a tilt trailer displayed in Key West,” said Tandoi. “I’m hoping that can happen next year.”

Off and on the water, Out of Control’s Tandoi and his friends had a blast in Key West last week—including earning the Florida Powerboat Club’s “Best Dressed Crew” honor.

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