In the market for a high-performance catamaran for almost 15 years, Greg Harris bought a well-known 32-foot Skater from even better-known performance-boat enthusiast Ron Szloack last August. Earlier that month, Harris and Yvonne Aleman, his longtime girlfriend, had piloted the 32-footer, which is powered by twin 1,150-hp supercharged engines from JC Performance, in Szloack’s annual Skaterfest event and fallen in love with it.
Harris and Aleman took delivery of the cat, which they dubbed Mad Props, during the 2016 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. From there it went to Brand X Hi-Performance Marine in Pompano Beach, Fla., where it is stored and maintained not far from their home in the Fort Lauderdale area.
From the start, Harris knew he’d purchased an elite high-speed ride, one that had topped 170 mph and earned the “World’s Fastest 32 Pleasure Skater” nickname among the Skater cognoscenti. Also from the start, he knew he wanted to repower the unique carbon-fiber model, which is 12 inches wider than a “standard” Skater 32, with Mercury Racing 700 SCi engines as soon as his budget allowed.
“Sanity is one reason,” said Harris. “The boat has run 170-plus-mph before, but that’s not how we boat. We are in this for everyday, 100-mph cruising and still have something that is manageable around the docks. Between our current engines with carburetors and huge blowers and our catamaran with no rubrail, it’s currently a constant challenge around the docks.
“We want a reliable, turnkey boat that will start and finish 10 to 14 poker run weekends without a lot of continuing maintenance during the season,” he added. “This boat carries well. With Mercury Racing 700s it should still run in the high 130-mph range.”
Like most buyers of pre-owned powerboats, Harris does not have an unlimited budget. So the South Florida real estate agent will have to sell his catamaran’s existing engines — for $55,000 — to help pay for his new ones.
“People tell me I should ask a lot more, but that’s the minimum I need to make it work on the ‘buy’ side,” he said. “The polished PSI blowers are worth $20,000 — that’s a known sale amount. These motors are absolutely first rate — not a single hiccup — and the acceleration they provide has been unreal. Someone who wants a great high-power setup for something like a large V-bottom would do great with these engines.”
Beyond having more reasonable, rational and reliable power in the cat, Harris is looking forward to the technology gain he’ll make with 700-hp Mercury Racing engines, which come standard with Mercury Marine’s SmartCraft technology. He quickly came to appreciate SmartCraft’s technological benefits in Fast At Last, a 37-foot Active Thunder V-bottom powered by twin Mercury Racing 700s he owned and sold before buying his Mad Props Skater.
“Mercury electronics are first rate and allow me to go to a full digital dash layout,” he said. “I want to run everything —i ncluding switches — through multiple Garmin GPS systems and Smartcraft. As I learned from my last boat, having a system that alerts you to any engine issues and their severity in real time offers piece of mind that cannot be on overstated
“The motor swap will also allow the change to smaller hatch scoops to improve the already-great lines of the Skater,” he added. “The paint is unmistakable and will remain so with a lower profile.’
While Harris, who throttles the 32-footer with Aleman behind the wheel, would like start the repower project sooner than later, he’s patient. He knows waiting is worth the time, and after waiting 15 years to get the boat of his dreams he can wait a big longer to perfect it. And beyond that, he truly understands that less will be so much more.
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.