Though the triple-outboard-engine Pro Stock catamaran class is long gone from offshore racing and not coming back, the once-well-known Critical Lift raceboat that competed in the Pro Stock ranks will come back this year in the form of a pleasure boat. In August 2021, twin brothers Blake and Brock Gratton of Sarasota, Fla., purchased the 20-plus-year-old 36-footer with its original trio of 280-hp, two-stroke Mercury Racing outboards on the transom, from Michael Zoli, who used race it with his father, Ted.
Once a well-known offshore raceboat, the Critical Lift Skater catamaran is coming back as a pleasure boat thanks to owners Blake and Brock Gratton.
“We’ve had our 30-foot Spectre catamaran for eight years and it’s an awesome boat,” said Blake Gratton. “But with all the technology these days and the boats getting bigger and bigger we saw an opportunity to take an old raceboat and convert it to a 2022 version of pleasure boat.”
The cut-down catamaran currently is at Boat Customs in Caledonia, Mich., where company principal Chris Mills will repaint it and reconfigure the cat’s transom for a pair of Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines. The job also will require extensive body work including removing the cat’s twin canopies and replacing them with a wraparound windshield. To accommodate the middle outboard, the cat originally was built with a short center pod. That, too, will be gone before it leaves Boat Customs.
From there it will head to Craig Ellis at Appearance Products in Grand Rapids, Mich., for installation of its new interior.
Said Blake Gratton, “It’s going to be a boat people stop and talk about.”
Last but not least, the 36-footer will be hauled to TNT Custom Marine in Miami for rigging and installation of its twin supercharged, four-stroke V-8 outboards. The rigging work includes installing new electronics and, of course, dialing in.
Gratton said he expects the light, low-profile cat to top out at 120-plus-mph with its new outboard power package, about the same top speed it ran with its 280-hp outboard triplets. And he and his brother can’t wait to get their hands on it, which should happen this spring.
“The Skater 36 cut-down is a badass ride,” he said. “ It’s going to be a boat people stop and talk about.”
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will follow this project as it progresses. Look for updates on the website as they become available.