Hate to say it, but offshore powerboat racers usually give lousy interviews. They tend to provide general answers—the standard go-to being something about “seat time”—to specific questions. They are often evasive about things that are far from top secret. They occasionally bend the truth. That can make covering the sport in any meaningful, incisive way an exercise in frustration.
The good news? Offshore raceboats in action tell you everything you need to know about what happened and why, and that’s the beauty of “The History of Skater,” the latest DVD release from Big Seas Productions. Sure, you’ve got intelligent, thoughtful narration from Rich Luhrs, a veteran offshore observer and reporter. To his credit, Luhrs keeps the story of Skater catamarans—and their creator Peter Hledin—simple and lets the video tell the tale.
And the video in “The History of Skater,” which is assembled from archival footage, is nothing short of spectacular. That’s not because it’s shot from special angles or full of crashes and deck-to-deck drama. It’s spectacular because Skater catamarans, from the first 24-footer to the dazzling 46-footer are spectacular when they run. There’s a commonality in the way they dance on the water—pardon the flowery language—that says they could be nothing other than Skaters.
Offshore history lovers will find much to love about this DVD, from the hubris of racer Stuart Hayim saying, “I challenged Peter to take something good and make it great” to the cagey “yes” and “no” answers from a grinning Joe Mach, another noteworthy Skater racer, in an interview with Luhrs.
The highpoint of the DVD? It’s a no-brainer—the footage of Joey Imprescia and Pat Patel, one of the best duos in the history of offshore racing, flawlessly running Patel’s 40 Skater In Contempt in menacing seas off Point Pleasant, N.J.
The only thing missing from “The History of Skater” is significant interview footage with Hledin. The video does contain a short interview with the genius behind these world-beating catamarans, but a little more of Hledin’s perspective would have been welcome.
Then again, Hledin isn’t much of a talker. Like those who’ve raced Skater cats for the past 30-plus years, he lets his boats tell the story.