More often than not, Skater catamarans live more than one life. They start with their original buyers such as Michigan’s Ron Szolack before being re-sold, horse-traded and such to the next one. And the next one.
Currently prepped as a bare hull for its new paintjob at Boat Customs in Caledonia, Mich., a 2004-built 50-footer presents the perfect example. Szolack originally commissioned the catamaran. From there it went to Yves Belanger of Florida. Belanger, who owned the boat for 10 years and has a new Skater 50 in the works, eventually moved it when he ordered his Skater 438.
Chris Mills of Boat Customs is still fine-tuning his graphic design for client Barry Henson’s 50-footer, which will be dubbed Flight Time.
Now it’s the property of Barry Henson, who currently lives in Pompano Beach, Fla. A longtime performance-enthusiast who owned noteworthy 36- and 43-foot Nor-Tech catamarans, he bought the 50-footer a couple of years ago and repowered it with then-new turbocharged Chief engines.
“They were straight up junk,” said Henson, a former motorcycle drag and road racer who founded Velocity Racing, which makes engine management and turbocharging systems. “I thought I would start with someone else’s turbocharged engines. I found out the only way I can do this is to do it myself.”
Working his brother, Frankie, Henson built a pair of turbocharged engines that make 1,200 to 1,300 on pump gas. (A pair of 1,600-hp mills is in the works.) They’re ready to go, he said, and will be installed in the cat once Chris Mills at Boat Customs finishes the paintjob. Mills has been working on the boat, which required extensive blocking and sanding, for seven months. It is slated to go into the paint booth in the next four to six weeks.
“We’re working on our third rendering and finalizing it with Barry,” said Mills, who met the client 15 years ago. “In addition to the entire exterior of the boat, will be painting the bilge, gimbals and drives. Other than those components, it’s totally stripped.”
In preparation for its new paintjob, the 50-foot catamaran required substantial blocking and sanding.
Mills also will replace the cat’s current wraparound windshield with a new one from Lee Aerospace. For its revamped interior, which will go from three to two seats at the helm station and be equipped with dual helms for two-person operation, Henson is working with Viper Customs, a Tennessee-based company, as well as doing much of the work with his brother.
“We’re going with an all-glass cockpit—three Garmin GPS units at the helm station,” he said. “My brother and I built the dash. Viper Customs will be wrapping the seats with some really nice vinyl and Alcantara with blue diamond stitching.”
From the moment he took possession of the cat, Henson explained, he knew wanted Boat Customs to handle its new exterior.
“As soon as I bought the boat I knew it was going to be a total renovation,” he added. “I had seen a lot of Chris’ stuff and I was blown away by it.”
A private pilot, Henson will call the cat Flight Time. He’s planning to debut it during the late-August Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri in Central Missouri.
“The passion of guys like Barry is what makes projects like this so exciting,” said Mills. “It’s just really cool.”
Note: Speedonthewater.com will follow the project as it progresses.
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