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Thornton Loving Ridin’ Dirty Skater 388 With Updated Goodwin Engines

Amongst the Skater Powerboats faithful, the Frisky Business Skater 388 owned by Kentucky’s Mike Thornton is one of the more acclaimed and admired catamarans to come out of the Douglas, Mich., facility in the past two decades. So, in a way, it’s appropriate that Thornton is enthusiastically the proud owner of another fan-favorite Skater—the former VOODOO 38-footer owned by Louisiana’s David and James Branton that was powered by monstrous 1,900-hp Goodwin Competition Racing Engines and painted by The Art of Design.

Kentucky’s Mike Thornton couldn’t be happier with his latest 38-foot Skater catamaran. Photos courtesy Mike Thornton

Now featuring the name Ridin’ Dirty on the transom with an “M2” sticker to the right honoring the late Michael Pierce, Thornton’s friend and fellow performance boater who died in a car accident in December 2019, the two-year-old Skater 388 is a dream come true for Thornton. It’s also a dream come true for Denny Kirkland of Custom Performance in Somerset, Ky., because Kirkland gets to work on the boat and test it.

“I bought the boat almost a year ago—I worked out a deal with David and James during the Key West Poker Run—and I put Denny to work on getting it all set up shortly thereafter,” Thornton said. “David said to me in Key West that he changed the name of the boat to ‘For Sale,’ and that the boat had my name written all over it. I couldn’t argue with him—I kind of had a feeling all along that I’d own the boat at some point. It has an almost identical setup as my old boat with the Kevlar and carbon-fiber layup, the racing strakes and the No. 6 drives. And wow is it gorgeous.”

A pair of 1,800-hp supercharged engines from Goodwin Competition Racing Engines in Wisconsin provides the power for the Skater.

Thornton said the boat hit the water in early July—just in time to run it in the delayed Lake Cumberland Thunder Run hosted at State Dock Marina in Jamestown, Ky.—and that Kirkland spent a couple more months getting everything just right before last month’s gathering during what would normally be the Lake Cumberland Poker Run weekend (also at State Dock).

“I have to thank Denny for the hours he spent getting the girl ready for the water and Todd Goodwin for the setup and tuning,” Thornton said. “And thanks to the Brantons for putting the deal together. I’m super excited about the boat and my next round in the go-fast world.

“We’ve had some good, hard pulls on the boat and it feels amazing,” he added. “We swapped the 4L Whipple Superchargers for the 3.3L Whipples and everything just clicked. We lost a little horsepower in the process—not much—but the thing pulls like you wouldn’t believe. It really is unbelievable. Denny is fascinated with it, too., He loves driving the boat. He’s done a good job working with Todd to get the tuning and the fuel adjustments dialed in.”

Check out the slideshow above for more image of Ridin’ Dirty on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland.

Goodwin said some adjustments were made to his company’s Extreme Marine Semi Hemi engines, which powered the Pure Platinum and Rainmaker Skater 388 cats built by Florida’s Bill Pyburn and Texas’ Chris Bradley that preceded the Brantons’ VOODOO.

“We’ve moved on to some newer technology with the engines,” Goodwin explained. “We’ve changed the engine management system and went to the 3.3L superchargers from Whipple. The 3.3s seems to provide more usable range and improved responsiveness. In this case, the blowers are smaller, which decreases the cubic feet in turn allowing them to spin faster. Of course that gave us more heat to manage, and we do that via a more robust intercooler. The best part is that the engines are making close to the same power as before—1,800-plus hp aside, and that’s on 91-octane gas, too.”

While he’s considering taking the boat to next month’s Key West Poker Run organized by the Florida Powerboat Club, Thornton, who seems beyond pleased with the boat so far, has every intention of running a hefty poker run schedule in 2021, assuming the pandemic restrictions that forced many events to cancel or downsize this year are lessened.

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