Without question, Douglas Marine Skater is the best-established name in custom high-performance catamarans. Sure, there are a few other top-flight brands out there, but Skater is to go-fast cats what Cigarette Racing Team is to go-fast V-bottoms. In terms of iconic brand identity, Skater is as good as it gets.
But here’s the strange thing. During his 30-plus years of building stunning cats, Peter Hledin, the owner and founder of Douglas Marine/Skater in Douglas, Mich., never had a full-service Skater dealer in South Florida, one of the hottest markets for go-fast boats in the world.
At least that was the case until November 2011. That’s when Miami-based Skaternation.net opened its doors in conjunction with its sister company, Powerboatnation.com. The coming-out party for both outfits happened at the Poker Run Village during the 2011 Key West Offshore World Championships, and while the atmosphere surrounding their debut was festive, it left more than a few folks a little confused about the difference between Skaternation.net and Powerboatnation.com.
Here’s the deal: Skaternation.net is a full-service Skater catamaran dealer. Powerboatnation.com is a member-based organization dedicated, according to Tommy Hofstetter, the owner of both outfits, to “promoting the powerboat lifestyle and uniting the powerboat world.”
Powerboatnation.com also is, of course, a website that is being populated with videos, photographs, news, messages boards and “all things powerboating.” But on the non-virtual, brick-and-mortar side of the business, Powerboatnation.com provides concierge services for high-performance powerboat owners.
In the fragmented, brand-loyal world of high-performance boating, Hofstetter’s goals are lofty to be sure. But Hofstetter, a four-time offshore powerboat racing world champion, is far from a newcomer to the go-fast scene. For more than 30 years, his company, Chief Engines in Miami, established an outstanding reputation for building high-performance marine engines.
“Our goal is to promote and grow the powerboating lifestyle, regardless of the brand of boat or the brand of engine,” says Hofstetter.
Based on the 55-powerboat, 200-plus person turnout at Powerboatnation.com’s inaugural Sandbar Raft-Up Party at White Marlin Beach on the bayside of Lower Matecumbe Key, Hofstetter and his crew are on the right track. The late-February event, which was held in conjunction with the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual Miami Boat Show, definitely was a celebration of the powerboating lifestyle, and one that everyone involved seemed to enjoy.
In late April, the Powerboatnation.com tractor-trailer, which is in essence a mobile hospitality suite for high-performance powerboat enthusiasts, will head west to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., for the annual Desert Storm Poker Run. And that’s just one of the stops for Powerboatnation.com this year, as the crew plans to have the trailer on-site during all of the major events in the go-fast boat world.
That means chances are good that Powerboatnation.com will be coming to an event near you. And regardless of your brand of boat or the engine that powers it, they’d love you to stop by and say hello. You don’t even need to own a Skater with Chief Engines.