Skater At 50—Riding A 36-Foot Rocket

Skater At 50—Riding A 36-Foot Rocket

What began as a 2002 model-year offshore raceboat for Missouri’s Dave Scott of Bacardi Silver and Budweiser/Bud Light team fame and later was converted for pleasure use under owner Ron Szolack, a 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran eventually fell into the hands of Sterling Performance Engines principal Mike D’Anniballe. And in 2013, the storied catamaran with fixed-position Mercury Racing No. 6 drives and rudder steering became the test-boat for a pair of Sterling’s then-new 1,700-plus-hp turbocharged engines.

A ride on the Lake of the Ozarks in a 36-foot Skater catamaran with massive power was one the publishers of will never forget. Photo by Jay Nichols copyright Naples Image

Throttleman John Tomlinson—who as it happens will share the cockpit of Tyler Miller’s Super Cat-class M CON/Monster Energy Skater 388 catamaran with former Performance Boat Center Super Cat-class teammate Myrick Coil in Cocoa Beach, Fla., this weekend—ran the 36-footer during the first day of the 2013 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri.

Early the following morning before day No. 2 of the top-speed event on the then-one-mile course, Tomlinson and D’Anniballe took co-publisher Jason Johnson and I for a ride in the cat. D’Anniballe arranged it. He wanted us to experience riding in a 36-footer with 3,400 hp under its hatches.

And experience it we did.

“Early morning was the only time JT was able to safely take us for a spin and turn it up to a comfortable top speed near 150 mph, which by the way was 45 mph less than he and driver Myrick Coil would reach the next day on the then-one-mile Shootout course,” Johnson recalled. “We obviously knew the boat would be fast, but I’m not sure I realized how quickly it accelerated into the triple digits and beyond.

“It certainly was a memory I’ll never forget, and I have Tomlinson, D’Anniballe and Trulio to thank for the experience,” he added, then chuckled. “I’d especially like to thank Trulio for declining the offer to drive after Tomlinson asked if he wanted to take the wheel. He knew his limitations and was happy enough to sit next to JT and take as good of notes as he could while cruising at 100-plus mph.”

The torque produced by the turbocharged Sterling engines was like nothing else the author had ever experienced.

That choice was too easy, especially after a ride in the Skater that morning. Even with Tomlinson, a guy I tested dozens of boats with during our tenure at Powerboat magazine, the experience was moderately to severely disturbing.

That’s because the 36-footer literally leapt out the water like a drag boat and repeated the leap three times before digging in and getting on with the business of becoming a rocket ship. The torque pumped from the Sterling 1700s was simply massive.

That made for bracing acceleration. The 36-footer doubled its 75-mph, quarter-throttle loafing speed in 13 seconds. It blasted from 100 to 150 mph in 10 seconds. Every time Tomlinson blipped the throttle, the cat jumped.

“Acceleration-wise, the closest thing to it I’ve experienced would have to be Dave Scott’s 50-foot Mystic with the 2,200-hp alcohol engines,” Tomlinson said that day. “I knew how the boat had run with Sterling 1550s, so I knew it was going to be a rocket.”

Johnson and I published a story about the development of the Sterling 1700 package, as well as our first-person encounter with the Skater catamaran powered by them, in the November/December 2013 issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.

At the Lake of the Ozarks last weekend to cover the Spring Fun Run (read the story) produced by Performance Boat Center, I joined the dealership’s Brett Manire, his girlfriend Kaitlyn Kristal, Sunsation Powerboats plant manager Aaron Treppa and the entire Coil clan for “Sunday Fun Day” on a Sunsation 40 CCX center console headed to Papa Chubby’s Food and Booze for lunch. (Yes, that is the real name of the place.) Coil pointed out the former Nauti Marine shop, where he worked before joining Performance Boat Center, on our way to the restaurant tucked away in a quiet cove.

“Do you remember that place?” Coil asked me and grinned. “That was where you and Jason and Johnny picked up the 36 Skater with the Sterling 1700s before the Shootout and went for a ride.”

I laughed. “Oh yes,” I said. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one.”

The day before Johnson and Trulio took a ride in the Skater 36 catamaran powered by twin 1,700-hp engines, John Tomlinson (left) and Myrick Coil (center, with Sterling Performance Engines principal Mike D’Anniballe at right) piloted it to 195 mph and a Top Gun title at the 2013 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. Photo by Jason Jason copyright

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