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The Full-Circle Journey Of Joel Begin

On a sparkling Western New York day in mid-July 2014, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats founder and then-owner Mike Fiore debuted a new SC 46 catamaran at the Buffalo Poker Run with Joel Begin, the canopied 46-footer’s French-Canadian owner. Among Fiore’s clients and friends who caught rides in the cat that weekend was Burton Kirsten of Michigan.

The ride was enough to inspire Kirsten to order a canopied SC 39 catamaran he called Max, which he took delivery of the following summer. It was his first cat from the Bristol, R.I., company.

Joel Begin took a ride in an Outerlimits SC 46 catamaran last Friday morning for the first time since a tragic day in 2014. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

It would be a wonderful story if it ended there, but sadly it does not. During the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri a month later, Fiore and Begin flipped in the 46-foot cat on their first pass down the mile-long course.

Begin was battered but survived without serious physical injury. Fiore fought hard to survive his injuries but died a few days later.

Though Begin has drifted in and out of the performance-boating scene since then, he’s never strayed far from the close-knit Outerlimits owners’ circle—even when he didn’t own an Outerlimits. Among those who have remained closest to him are Kirsten and his wife, Yvette, who sold Max several years ago and now own Jet, a 46-foot Outerlimits catamaran they named for Fiore’s son.

Until last Friday, Joel Begin and Burton Kirsten had not shared the cockpit of a canopied catamaran for eight years.

Both Kirsten and Begin, as well as his wife, Guylaine, met up at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri last Thursday in advance of Saturday’s Fall Fun Run produced by Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach. Kirsten invited Begin to drive Jet the following day with the dealership’s Rusty Williams sharing the cockpit, and Begin, who had not been in a canopied boat—much less an Outerlimits SC 46 catamaran—since the accident, agreed.

Work duties kept Williams out of the cockpit the next morning, so Kirsten took his place alongside Begin. And off they went, running the boat on the flat-glass water to 125 mph.

“Joel was a little nervous at first, but after we got going he had this big smile on his face the whole time,” Kirsten said. “But the best part was seeing the smile on Guylaine’s face. She was so happy to see Joel happy.”

Said Kirsten (left) with Begin, “He had this big smile on his face the whole time.”

Begin experienced a range of emotion—amplified by a flood of memories—that morning.

“In addition to being on the Lake of the Ozarks and the first time back in a closed-canopy Outerlimits 46 cat, it was the second time I was in a boat with Burton,” he recalled. “The first time was in Buffalo in my 46 with Steve Curtis, Joe Sgro and Mike Fiore in 2014. Burton really liked the ride and he bought his first Outerlimits cat after Buffalo. That’s when Burton and I became brothers.”

Begin paused for a moment. “For me, Mike also was a brother, which I hadn’t had before, and that, plus celebrating his accomplishments, became a big part or my life,” he said. “Mike was a great artist and he will always remain so for me.”

For the following day’s fun run, Begin ran with Performance Boat Center’s Williams in Turbo, a canopied MTI 390X catamaran also owned by the Kirstens. Now Begin has ordered a canopied MTI 39-footer of his own to go with his Wright Performance 360 catamaran, which he brought to the Lake of the Ozarks for the fun run, and his 43-foot Tiara sport cruiser.

After sharing the cockpit of Kirsten’s canopied MTI 390X catamaran, Begin ordered one of his own.

“I really enjoyed running the 390 with Rusty—he’s an excellent pilot,” he said. “It’s a very quiet and pleasant boat with a great interior, and Guylaine and I really liked it a lot. So now I have one on order that I will receive next summer.

“I have to offer big thanks again to Burton for his great idea to take me in the 46 and let me run Turbo ” he added. “He’s really like my big brother.”

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