A well-known member of the New Jersey high-performance powerboating community, Bob Christie, was sure he was done with go-fast catamarans when he sold Speed Racer, his equally well-known 44-foot Marine Technology cartoon-themed catamaran, several years ago. He thought that he and wife, Madelyn, with their three adult daughters and growing gaggle of grandchildren, were ready to slow down and go the performance-oriented center console route. So they ordered a new 38-footer from Statement Marine.
But soon enough, the Statement was gone, replaced by a pre-owned Cigarette Racing Team 42X V-bottom sportboat powered by Mercury Racing 1100s engines. The Christies hung onto the 42-footer for a couple of years and enjoyed owning it, but eventually felt the urge to return to a center console. This time around, they ordered a new Cigarette 39 GTS.
That, too, is gone now and Christie has ordered a new MTI 340X sport catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines.
“To be quite on honest, I missed the speed and I missed the ride,” said Christie, who with his wife visited MTI company founder and owner Randy Scism a couple of weeks ago at the company’s facility in Wentzille, Mo.
The Christies met with Scism in the morning and made the short flight—via private aircraft—to the Lake of the Ozarks for an afternoon test session in an MTI 340X docked at Scism’s lakefront home.
“Randy throttled and I drove to start,” said Christie. “Next thing I know, we’re going 115 mph and there’s no wind at all in the boat, even in the back where Madelyn was sitting. She didn’t even have to put a hood or hat on. Then I throttled and drove.
“It felt almost like it had a rudder—it handled like Speed Racer,” he continued. “The more speed I gave it, the better it turned. It’s a 34-foot boat that feels like a 40-footer. We went over cruiser wakes and backwash across the lake like they weren’t even there.”
Christie, who has a second home in the Sarasota, Fla., area said he is hoping the 34-footer will be finished in time for the Sarasota-based annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun.
“It’s so easy to drive,” he said. “It comes on plane at 15 mph and the bow doesn’t come up while you’re getting there. You get it to 85 mph, set the trim where you want it to be and then you don’t have to touch it until it’s time to dock.”
A true aquatic speed-lover at heart, Christie does miss the 170-plus-mph capability of his former MTI Speed Racer ride. But he doesn’t miss the hassles of trailering the substantial 44-footer, or the costs of insuring and fueling it. And while his Potter Performance engine program for the boat was reliable, it was not inexpensive to maintain—the purchase price, cost of ownership and reliability of Mercury Racing’s most powerful outboard engines definitely appeals to him.
How long will he hang onto the 340X? Well, based on history it’s difficult to imagine it being his last boat. But there’s a good chance it could end up being his favorite.
“It drives better than any sport catamaran I’ve ever run,” he said. “It was almost boring to drive—and I mean that in a good way.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.