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Skaterfest From A Front-Row Seat

As of this afternoon, I can count driving a 46-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran at 150 mph off the list of fun things to do before I die. All thanks go to Ron Szolack, the boat’s owner and the organizer of Skaterfest in St. Clair, Mich., which began today.

“Have you ever driven a big cat fast?” Szolack asked me on the ride from his waterfront home in St. Clair to nearby Miller Marina, the launch point for most of the 40- to 50-something Skater catamaran owners in town for this weekend’s celebration of the coveted brand.

Thanks to Ron Szolack, speedonthewater.com’s Matt Trulio had plenty to grin about today. Top and bottom photos courtesy of Brad DiMaggio copyright Scrapyard Media.

“Bob Christie’s 44-foot Speed Racer cat at 144 mph,” I responded. “That’s the biggest and fastest for me behind the wheel, but of course Bob was throttling.”

“OK,” he said, then smiled. “You’re driving.”

Turned out he was serious, and soon Szolack, a couple of his longtime friends and I were idling out the marina channel in the 46-footer powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines and onto Lake St. Clair, bound for the Metropark public docks to meet up for a pizza-and-sandwich lunch courtesy of longtime Skater-man Steve Gordon with 20-plus Skater owners.

“See that point?” Szolack said and pointed to a thin strip of land in the distance. “That’s where we’re going.”

For most of the trek, we ran between 120 and 130 mph, at least until Szolack cranked it up to 150 mph for a stretch. And in short order after a hard left turn—I kind overshot the channel—we were idling our way to the Metropark docks.

Not a bad office chair.

I’d love to be able to tell you that driving a Skater 46 catamaran took every skill I have, or that there was a dramatic moment or two where my insane driving ability saved our lives. Both would be lies. There was no drama, and as for the skill required all I had to do was hold the wheel straight and, as my friends Bob Teague, John Tomlinson and Bob Christie have told me many times during the years, do very little.

And that’s exactly what I did—very little—other than grin the entire time.

After lunch on our way to Brown’s Bar on Harsen Island, my self-satisfaction abruptly ended when I missed a channel marker (or two) and ended up taking us though some pretty skinny water—to the bay on the other side of the island—and two other Skaters followed us on the wrong course. To his credit, Szolack didn’t blow a gasket but he did make merciless fun of me and asked, “Have you ever driven a boat before?”

It was a fair question.

And I still grinned the entire time.

Look for reports on Skaterfest throughout the weekend.

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