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Skater Owners Gather for Scaled-Down ‘Fest’

Although the annual Skaterfest joined the ever-growing list of powerboating events that were canceled because of Covid-19, a scaled-down version of the run featuring a couple of dozen boats came together this past weekend in the Detroit area.

Skaterfest, which debuted in 2011, is organized by Ron Szolack; last year, it drew more than 40 high-performance Skater cats and their crews for a fun run, good food and a rekindling of friendships. It’s a great place to see models both old and new, as well as to meet Douglas Marine President Peter Hledin.

During the pandemic of 2020, it was necessary to limit the number of participants to 100 to allow entry into restaurants. “So there was really no difference between what we did and Skaterfest, besides having a smaller crowd,” Szolack told Speedboat. “We did everything the same as we would have done at a typical Skaterfest. Due to Covid-19, I could only have maximum of a hundred people—even at the state park. So we made it under the line there. We did what we had to do, and just had a fun time—we just pretty much cut everything in half. It was really just a small gathering of friends doing our thing.”

One element that was not sacrificed: Peter Hledin, the man himself, was on hand to enjoy the fun. Also in attendance were Devin Wozencraft of Wozencraft Insurance (Tustin, CA), David Whelan of Gulf Coast Complete Marine Service (Kemah, TX), Danny DeSantis of Boston (who brought his McClaren auto dealership’s hospitality trailer), Don Doty (in his 426 Skater), Joe Gilstorf and Rob Turner. And the famous 482 Skater Rockette also participated in the run.

As usual, the group traveled from Lake St. Clair, down the St. Clair River, stopping at Pepper Joe’s restaurant for lunch. On Saturday evening, Luigi’s Original Italian restaurant catered dinner for the gang at Lake St. Clair Metropark.

One unforgettable moment came when attendee Chris Ryder (who trailered his boat out from New York) proposed to his girlfriend. “Right in the middle of the run, he had us stop so he could propose on the back of his boat,” Szolack says. “That was kind of cool.”

See the boats tied up during lunch at Pepper Joe’s restaurant, below.

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