Justin Wagner, owner of Waves and Wheels in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., may design and install high-end entertainment systems for some of the most high-dollar and lavish performance boats in the country from the likes of Cigarette, MTI and Nor-Tech, but he isn’t about to spend $500,000 or more to own the boat of his dreams. Instead, Wagner is out to prove that you can “build a bad-ass boat without spending half a million dollars.”
What started as an idea on sketch pad a couple of years ago has now become a reality for Wagner, who has spent many hours “researching” his Ironman-themed boat via comic books, movies and browsing online. Of course, to pull off this ultimate project boat, Wagner needed to start used. From the boat to the engines and drives, pre-owned was a focus to keep costs down.
“I didn’t intend to build the boat for another year or so—I wasn’t even sure what boat I wanted—but I got a call from Terry Sobo of Nor-Tech last summer because he knew I was looking for a boat,” Wagner said. “It was a 2001 Hustler 377 Talon catamaran that he took in on trade, and he gave me a great deal so we were off and running.”
After getting the boat and its Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines running well in time for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout last August, Wagner went to work on the concept for the themed boat and accompanying tow rig.
Performance Boat Center in Camdenton (one of the local towns on the lake) to handle much of the bodywork, including the deep red base paint, and the engine compartment paint and rigging.Wagner turned to the crew at
For the creative side of the Ironman suit paint scheme, Wagner drew upon his talented cousin—Kelly Lynne Smith, owner of Kelly Lynne Creative—to turn his vision into reality. Smith, who resides in Iowa, spent more than 50 hours over a few days last week airbrushing the exterior details to get the boat well on its way.
Wagner said Performance Boat Center just finished the clearcoat on Wednesday and is starting on the rigging, which could take a few weeks. After that, the boat will return to Waves and Wheels where many one-of-a-kind bits and pieces will be designed, constructed and installed inside and outside the boat, including reconfiguring the cockpit seating from five seats to seven.
Over the next few months, Wagner and company will be working to complete the transition from standard 377 Talon to over-the-top Ironman edition in time for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, one of the country’s premier events.
From the engine installation and complete cockpit overhaul to the extended transom bussell and elite audio/video system, speedonthewater.com will provide frequent updates on the 37-footer as Performance Boat Center and Waves and Wheels progress. Follow along in the Projects section of the site. And if you’re interested, Wagner is still seeking sponsors for the project boat. You can contact him at 573-302-1657.