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Simply Irresistible: Catnip Coming To Boyne Thunder


A centerpiece of Van Dam’s 40th anniversary celebration, a 30-foot wooden runabout powered by Ilmor Marine engines could just steal the show at the summer’s hottest event.

With an estimated top speed of almost 60 mph, a Van Dam Custom Boats creation dubbed Catnip probably will be the slowest boat at the long sold-out Boyne Thunder Poker Run (http://boynethunder.com/) July 7-8 in Boyne City, Mich. That’s even more likely given that the hand-built, wooden 30-footer won’t be among the 100-plus high-performance V-bottoms, catamarans and center consoles during Saturday’s poker run. But as part of Van Dam’s 40th anniversary celebration, the soon-to-be-completed Catnip “runabout” will be displayed in Friday’s night boat-and-car exhibit on Main Street, and—like all Van Dam builds—it promises to be a show-stealer.

Powered by twin 385-hp Ilmor Marine engines “customized” for the project, Catnip won’t have to travel far to reach Boyne Thunder’s street festival as Van Dam also is located in Boyne City. Design work on the boat began in early 2015, and construction started a year later. According to Ben Van Dam, the president and naval architect of Van Dam Custom Boats, the boat is “styled with subtle Art Deco cues blended with signature elements of 1930s Ventnor runabouts.” Van Dam and design principle Michel Berryer, who has been with the the company for more than 20 years, worked closely on the project.

Ilmor Marine has supplied power for Van Dam Custom Boats projects since 2011, and according to Jessica Gamarra, the company’s director of marketing and communications, the people at the company were delighted to be chosen to supply power for Catnip.

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