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Savage Skater Getting New Mercury Racing 1550/1350 Engines And Fresh Interior

Like many projects in the performance boat world, Chad Havens’ Skater Powerboats catamaran project has taken on a life of its own. “It was a lot more in-depth than I originally anticipated, but I bet you hear that a lot,” Havens said with a laugh.


The 40-foot Skater, Savage (pictured at the Desert Storm Poker Run on Arizona’s Lake Havasu), is getting twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines and a new interior, and should be ready in time for the Miami Boat Show Poker Run. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos

The owner of an electric company in Texas, Havens turned to David Whelan, who owns Gulf Coast Complete Marine Service in Kemah, Texas, to update and take care of the 2008 40-foot Skater he purchased in the summer of 2018 from California’s Cole Whitcher. Havens was impressed with setup of the boat but realized last spring that it was time for a change because he wanted something more dependable. In the meantime, he picked up a sweet DCB Performance Boats M35 Widebody with twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines to do poker runs in last year with his fiancé, Krissy.

Nick Compton of Island Audio in Maurepas, La., had filled me in on a couple of his latest projects several weeks back, one of which was the new cockpit his team was building for Haven’s 40-footer in time for Havens to do the Florida Powerboat Club’s Miami Boat Show Poker Run. Compton put me in touch with Whelan, who has been the re-inventor and caretaker of the Skater that was originally the Douglas Skater boat before his team converted the quarter-canopies to a wraparound windshield, gave it a complete transom bustle extension and repainted it red for Whitcher, who renamed it Savage, and Whelan connected me with Havens.

“I’m excited about swapping out the Sterlings for Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines,” Havens said. “I was more than satisfied with the Skater when I bought it—it’s an incredible boat—but it’s frustrating chasing mechanical issues and electrical gremlins, especially when you’re an electrician, so I thought why not take an older boat and make it a new one. I mean I love the way the boat rides. It’s an older style than the 388, but it handles rough water so well. It just eats it up.”

Whelan’s team started working on the Skater in November and set in the new engines, built the motor mounts, templated the exhausts and rigged the dash before sending it over to Island Audio. He said he doesn’t anticipate it taking too long to install the turbocharged engines and rig the other engine accessories, bilge pumps and more once the boat returns.

“This is a unique project for us because we’ve been so involved with this boat for so long,” Whelan said. “We did the windshield, added the bustle and steps, painted it, you name it. We gutted it and re-wired the whole thing to get it ready for the 1550/1350s. We went with the CZone digital control and monitoring system and we added a Garmin display to the dash and a VesselView below it in a new fiberglass console. This is really going to be a nice boat.

“My biggest concern is making sure that my customers make it through a poker run, because if they’re not happy and it’s not fun, they’ll just stop boating and do something else,” he continued. “Getting a customer like Chad or a guy like Kort Wittich, whose Skater we repowered last year, onboard with the Mercury Racing program definitely helps with that. The new engines are amazing. It’s still super high-performance stuff so they need some TLC, but the dependability is better.”

Check out the slideshow above for more images of Chad and Krissy Havens’ 40-foot Skater, including images of the original look of the boat and its different stages of evolution courtesy of the team at Gulf Coast Complete Marine Service.

The boat is currently at Island Audio, where Compton and his team are coming to an end after starting from scratch on the six-seat cockpit that was gutted like the rest of the boat. They are doing custom CNC work, constructing new seats and side panels, adding LED lighting, and installing a fresh interior, custom flooring and a rockin’ new entertainment system.

As expected Havens, who plans to have the boat on display at the late-April Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., can’t wait to get the boat wrapped up, and rest assured, speedonthewater.com is going to have a complete look at the project—as well as it’s updated trailer—once it is finished.