Skater Catamarans Built For Speed In Douglas

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-25 11:31:21-04

DOUGLAS, Mich. – Forget Donzi, Scarab, or any other cigarette boat that people think can blow anything else out of the water. Welcome to Skater! Literally…the fastest high performance pleasure boats made on the planet.

While cigarette boats are single V-hull boats, Skater are dual-hull catamarans. Typically more stable on the water, these craft can travel at NASCAR speeds of up to 200 mph on the water.

The company was founded in 1974 in Canada by current President/CEO Peter Hledin. They eventually moved to Douglas in 1978 and have been manufacturing the fastest pleasure boats ever since. Peter says the name “Skater” comes from the Canadian Water Strider. “It’s a spider that sits on the water and it darts left right. Surface tension keep its feet on the water. You’ve seen them in ponds. That’s water skater in Canada. Because our boats turn so sharp and they fly on top of the water, that’s what the boat was named after.”

Peter gave us an exclusive and rare look at the Skater manufacturing facility from start to finish. Key components of their 200 mph speed are light weight raw materials like balsa wood and plastic honeycomb sheeting (made by a Zeeland company). Once laminated with thin layers of fiberglass resin, both become almost unbreakable and super strong. Each hull is meticulously molded, then carbon fiber (a super strong material) and Kevlar (a flexible material) are added to the inside where compartments are made for both strength and stability.

Other pieces are molded and made individually and assembled later. Custom paint, interior, and striping are all done to the owner’s specifications. Skater specializes in catamarans from 28 to 52 feet. Some of the 52-footers will generate 4,000 horsepower and carry 7,000 gallons of high-octane fuel at a price of $10.00 (or more) per gallon.

While each catamaran is custom-built in their 90,000 square foot facility, they typically only build about a dozen or so each year. In fact, the building usually doesn’t begin until the order has been taken. Custom trailers are also built that can tilt the boat 90 degrees on its side in order to transport it from place to place.

While Skater has no showroom, the boats are distributed through Douglas Marine Corporation and can cost anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to at least a couple million. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not movie stars or rock stars that typically purchase these boats. It’s simply very successful, established business owners that have an affinity for power, speed, and performance.

For more information on Skater, click here for their website.