Caught up with Peter Hledin, the owner of Douglas Marine, which builds Skater catamarans in Douglas, Mich. Hledin remains one of my favorite people in the high-performance marine industry to inteview, particularly for his extensive base of knowledge that’s always tempered with a dry sense of humor. More important, I never feel that Hledin is being cagey with me. He goes “off the record” from time to time, but for the most part he’s on the record—often bluntly—and I respect that.
Hledin has been making news of late, most recently for offering a purse for the fastest “pleasure” Skaters at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout August 28-29. Hledin is putting up $10,000 for the fastest Skater at the Shootout, and if the cat breaks 190 mph he’ll double that purse.
“This event is for the boat owners,” said Hledin. “Most of the guys who are doing the Shootout are there because of their own competitive instincts, and because they want the notoriety. The key to this business is making sure your customers are having the time of their lives. It’s not about the boat builder, it’s not about the engine builder, it’s about the boat owner and his family and friends.
“The owners make it all happen,” he added. “They provide us with a living.”
“They had kind of a small fracture in the bottom at Lake St. Clair (Mich.),” said Hledin. “It was not a big deal—it was a two-day repair. We spent more time fixing the trailer than the boat. But for John (Cosker, the owner of Mystic Performance Boats) to fix it up here would have been next to impossible. The boat is back here now on an unrelated issue. A propeller went through the bottom. Not related and, again, not a big deal.
“It’s not that John’s boats are ‘falling apart,’” Hledin added. “Not at all. It’s just the nature of boat racing. Race boats break.”