Purchased by offshore powerboat racer Nicholas Dorcich last year, Lighthouse Racing, a Skater 28 catamaran with twin canopies is undergoing a total renovation/modernization at Smart Marine Service in Orlando, Fla. When complete, it will be reborn as Risky Business, the latest member in a venerable family of offshore raceboats that began when Dorcich’s father, Stephen, began racing a 24-foot Skater cat in the 1980s.
And so it begins—a massive renovation project at Smart Marine Service will transform an old Skater 28 raceboat into the new Risky Business.
Successful on the racecourse, the senior Dorcich eventually moved on to a 32-footer Skater and finally a 40-foot Skater before retiring from the sport.
“I decided to buy this boat because I am poor farmer from California and it was the best deal I could get,” said Dorcich, who works in his family’s vineyard management business, with a healthy laugh. “I had to buy a lot of farm equipment last year.
“I always enjoyed boat racing—I grew up with it in my family,” he continued. “It was too good of a deal to pass up. I knew that if I bought it and didn’t even race it I could take it to Lake Tahoe and burn around the lake with (Gone Again 37′ canopied Talon cat owner) Rick Bowling.”
Among the significant changes in store for the 28-footer is widening its tunnel 19 inches to the maximum allowable tunnel width of 63 inches in the Super Boat International Stock class, according to Smart Marine Services owner Chris Schoenbohm. An experienced offshore racer, Schoenbohm expanded the tunnel of his own 32-foot Doug Wright offshore racing catamaran last year. (Read the story.)
“Nick decided that instead of going with a new design he was going to work with us to modify that boat to existing specifications for Stock class 28-footers,” said Schoenbohm.
Dorcich said he was impressed—and inspired—by the work Schoenbohm had done on his own 32-footer. The cat finished first overall in Stock class at the 2014 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla.
“I saw Chris’ boat and what a good job he did,” said Dorcich. “He said, ‘Hey, if you want to do something like this I would love to do it with you.’ With the money I am spending on this, I am basically going to have a brand new boat when he is done with it. I told him, ‘Take your time, I’m in no hurry.'”
Once the tunnel expansion is complete, Smart Marine will replace the cat’s dated twin-canopy setup—removed for the tunnel widening part of the project—with a “grafted-in” modern Doug Wright single canopy. Schoenbohm said he is working in cooperation with Doug Wright on the project and has permission to create his own set of molds for the canopy. While he won’t be incorporating Wright’s state-of-the-art safety capsule such as the one installed in the Talbot Excavating raceboat, Schoenbohm said he has developed his own version of a safety cell within the canopy.
“The great thing about Doug Wright is he wants to see technology pushed and move forward, whether it’s by him or someone else—we’re working closely with him,” he said. “It will be completely re-laminated and re-vacuum-bagged. We are also lightening it to meet weight specifications for 28-foot cats in the (SBI) Stock class. And we’re adding the Smart Marine graphite speed modifications to the hull, which allows for a really slick finish on the bottom.”
In addition to the new canopy, the 28-footer will be equipped with a bottom escape hatch.
“We are doing all the things necessary to make an older 28-footer competitive and safe in our sport,” said Schoenbohm. “This project opens the door for people with older Skaters who want to get into the sport. We have two series now, Super Boat International and the Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix, with only one date that overlaps. So there’s will be plenty of opportunity for people to go racing.”
Editor’s Note: Look for a feature on this project by veteran high-performance powerboating journalist Eric Colby in an upcoming issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.