Simplicity Rules At The Outboard Skater Fun Run

Simplicity Rules At The Outboard Skater Fun Run

The founder and owner of Skater Powerboats in Douglas, Mo., Peter Hledin likes to keep things simple. He eats lunch at the same quiet café in Saugatuck with the same friends during the week. He drives the same Toyota Camry he’s owned for more than a decade. He builds the decks of his exquisite catamarans simply by bending, shaping, laminating and sanding the hell out of scored plywood.

Peter Hledin caught a ride with the organizer Ron Muller and his son, Ethan, Bob Loeffler and the author in Muller’s Skater 308 catamaran on Saturday. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

As so it should come as no surprise that, while he prefers the two-strokes of old, Hledin loves outboard engines for their simplicity. Plus, when he started crafting custom high-performance catamarans 50 years ago they all had outboard power.

“I miss that,” he said during Saturday breakfast at the fourth annual Outboard Skater Fun Run in Sarasota. “You had couple of cables to hook up, and that was about it.”

Founded by Ron Muller of Electronics Unlimited across the Sunshine State in Fort Lauderdale, the Outboard Skater Fun Run is a celebration of the company’s roots. The oldest cat in this year’s 12-boat mix was a 1993 model-year 28-footer powered by long-out-of-production Mercury Racing 300XS two-stroke outboards and owned by the father-son-duo of Frank and Frankie Vetere of Long Island, N.Y.  The newest was a Mercury Racing 400R-powered 308 built in 2018 and owned by Marc Halpern.

Southwest Florida locals Don and Amanda Gardner enjoyed the event in their 36-foot catamaran, which was the largest Skater in the mix.

That’s a significant age spread. Then again, Skater has been building catamaran for five decades.

Powered by Mercury Racing 450Rs, a Skater 368 owned by Don and Amanda Gardner was the largest catamaran in this year’s event based out of the soon-to-be-demolished Sarasota Hyatt hotel. Rounding out the fleet was a Skater 32B recently acquired by Fort Myers Offshore organizers Tim and Cyndee Hill, a trio of 308s owned by Muller, Halpern and Willie Torrente and a slew of 28-footers owned by Erik Breckenfelder, the Veteres, Troy and Chastity Curry, Dan Johnson, Christian Castellano, Ronald Quijano and Jea Zaleski.

The event started Friday with a lunch run to Doc Fords Rum Bar and Grill on Sanibel Island and finished with a Saturday lunch to Riviera Dunes Dockside Social Bar and Grill in Palmetto. Thanks to a helicopter sponsored by Skater Powerboat and Wozencraft Insurance Agency carrying chief photographer Pete Boden and videographer Matthew Hledin, the action from both days on the water wa well-covered.

All the way from Long Island, Frank and Frankie Vetere earned the unofficial farthest-traveled award.

“For Pete at Skater, this is really where it all began, with outboards,” explained Muller, who works closely each with 36-footer Skater owner Chris LaMorte of New Jersey to organize and produce event. “It’s a testament to what he’s done—and where he is now. We are blessed to have him here.”

Hledin was joined in his first-time trek to the event by his son, Michael, and Skater national sales manager Tony Cutsuries. “They’ve been asking us to come since they started the outboard run,” Cutsuries said, then chuckled. “Seeing as it’s Skater’s 50th anniversary, we thought it was about time.”

For the Saturday run, Hledin joined Muller in his 400R outboard-powered 308—soon to be repowered at Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., with 450Rs—his son, Ethan, offshore racing legend Bob Loeffler and a reporter. A former Stock and C-class catamaran racer who ran the Mobil 1 Skater, Loeffler, who retired from the sport in 1996, earned one world championships and four national championships. He also set two kilometer speed records.


















Enjoy more images for the 2024 Outboard Skater Fun Run.

Yet as recent Outboard Skater Fun Run records go, no one had anything on the Veteres. Not only did the New Yorkers have the oldest boat in the fleet, which they left in Sarasota following the 2024 Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run, they traveled the farthest to be there.

“We trailered it down after Christmas,” the senior Vetere said, then laughed. “It took 20 hours nonstop. I don’t think we’re going to do that again.”

They’ll be back of course, albeit with a two-day drive, as they have yet to miss an Outboard Skater Fun Run. And for good reason.

“It’s just a group of such nice people with the same kind of boats,” Vetere explained. “Everyone runs together—no one is out to prove anything. We’ve made friends here Michigan to Missouri.”

The Outboard Skater Fun Run Class of 2024.

Related stories
LATE FEE$ X3 Skater Repower A Collaborative Effort
Skater At 50—One Monster Of A Build
Skater At 50—Win A Ride In Tilt
Skater At 50—Skaterfest Then And Now
Skater At 50—Remembering Mr. Mavrik, Roger Schaller
Skater At 50—The Original Game Changer
Celebrating Skater At 50—A New Article Series



Boat Lyfe