Though offshore powerboat racing’s Super Cat Light class eventually perished, the thinking behind it—spec engines and the parity and cost control they can bring—was sound. But not all good ideas succeed. Timing matters. Offshore racing classes come and go, and Super Cat Light, which had its heyday in the early to mid-2000s, fell prey to severe contraction within the sport and eventually died.
Don and Amanda Gardner will be breathing new life into a 2005 Skater catamaran originally built for Super Cat Light competition.
Plastics, however, live more or less forever and that includes those formed by combining materials from conventional fiberglass and vinylester resin to carbon fiber and epoxy. Case in point? A 2005-built, 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran that began its life as the Page Motorsports raceboat—and eventually went to Derian and Kevin Hatcher of National Hockey League fame before it was retired—in the Super Cat Light ranks. (Twin Mercury Racing 525 EFI engines was the spec power package for the class.)
Now, thanks to Don and Amanda Gardner of Cape Coral, Fla., that canopied 36-footer is being revived. As part of Mr. Gardner’s 40th birthday celebration, the couple purchased the boat this month from Scott Ryerson of Suncoast Powerboat and Yacht Brokerage in Sarasota, Fla. They plan to repower their new prize with long-out-of-warranty, Mercury Marine 350 outboard engines “re-flashed” to 465 hp from their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran, which also began its life as raceboat.
“Our motto is, ‘Make the purchase and it will all come together,” said Amanda Gardner, a Fort Myers Offshore board member, with a chuckle.
Added her husband, “Now we have to put a plan together.”
Their Skater acquisition, however, was as practical as it was whimsical.
The canopied 36-foot Skater will be powered by outboard engines from the Gardner’s open-cockpit 32-foot Doug Wright, both of which are raceboats converted for pleasure use.
“Poker runs in this area are changing,” said Amanda. “There are so many boats coming to this area that a 32 is almost getting to the point where it’s too small. We have a Fort Myers Offshore event this weekend that usually gets 20 boats and it will get 40 this year. This area is becoming so popular. There are so many places to go. You can run inside or outside. Within an hour of here there are probably 100 places you can go for lunch by water.”
Don laughed. “Ten years ago in a poker run here, you could run 85 mph with the pack,” he said. “Not now.”
Added Amanda, “Now there are center consoles that pass you at 85 mph.”
The conversion project, said her husband, will take six to eight months. Some of the work Gardner probably will do himself, some likely he’ll outsource. Either way, two of their four boats—the 32 Doug Wright and the 24-foot Superboat—will be sold.
Their 32-foot Active Thunder center console makes the cut for practical reasons.
“It’s too hot to run catamarans here in the summer,” said Don. “Everyone runs center consoles.”
One more benefit to the Gardners owning a Skater? Though their 36-footer won’t be ready in time, they’ll be able to attend Skatefest 2021, August 12-14 in the Detroit Metro area, as full-fledged owners. That’s something their Skater-owning friends from the Northeast including Chris LaMorte and Chris Ryder have been after them to do for years.
And that’s not the only door opened by their recent acquisition.
“I turn 40 in two years,” Amanda said, a laughed again. “I can’t wait to see what boat I get for my birthday.”
In two years, Scott Ryerson of Suncoast Powerboat and Yacht Brokerage may have to find another boat for the Gardner family.
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will report on this project as it progresses.
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