Celebrating its 24th year in one form or another, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout boasts an impeccable safety record. No one has died in the event, and injuries have been rare. And where wild rides—the kind that have you holding your breath for a few seconds—in this liquid-mile speed contest are common, actual crashes are few and far between.
This image, which was taken during the 2004 event by James Cassimus when it was called the Lake Rescue Shootout and ran on a course in front of Shooters 21, presents the most spectacular exception. That the driver of this 24-foot HTM catamaran was not killed proves two things. First, miracles happen. Second, water—at least at speed—is hard.
Take a good look at the driver and it’s easy to see that he is going to have slow down considerably before he actually penetrates the water. As I said, water at speed is hard. The most common comparison to water at speed is concrete and the comparison is mostly legit. I say mostly, because if the surface in this picture actually had been concrete the guy skipping across it wouldn’t have any skin.
Water is hard. Just ask any of the four lucky folks who got pitched out of a V-bottom after the Rock the Bay poker run last weekend. Ask anyone in the catamaran that destroyed the rear section of its hullside on a landing at 160 mph during the 1,000 Islands Poker Run the weekend prior. Water is hard.
To all of you participating in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout tomorrow and Sunday, have fun, run well and please—please—be as careful as you can. You can always back off the throttles. You can always make another run. You can always decide that you’re just not feeling it today, for no other reason than water is hard.