Hoping to better his top speed of 182 mph from last year’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout at the 30th annual event later this month, Vern Gilbert, who runs an open-cockpit 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by 2,000-plus-hp Carson Brummett engines, will be staying home in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., this year. Gilbert, who is 68 years old, has been sidelined by a staph infection in his right forearm that landed him in the hospital for six days.
“My doctor said, ‘Don’t even think about going back to work for two weeks,’ ” said Gilbert, who owns and runs West Coast Drives in Lake Havasu City. “My forearm blew up to three times its normal size—it was damn near the size of one of the calfs on my legs. I lost some of the muscle control in my right hand, so I’m going to have to do some physical therapy.
“I thought I had just strained my arm at work one day,” he continued. “The next day, I was so sick that I couldn’t get out of the house. I was supposed to meet Bob Teague (of Teague Custom Marine) and I couldn’t do it. The same thing, a staph infection, happened to him last year, and he told me it took him six months to recover. A.J. Barrett (of Barrett Custom Marine) ended up taking me to the hospital. I am so grateful to A.J., Bob and my wife. They even brought me hamburgers in the hospital.”
Gilbert said that he was looking for forward to competing at this year’s Shootout. To that end, he had completely prepped his 40-footer for the competition.
“I would have liked to back up what we did at the Shootout last year,” he said. “But that will have to wait for another day.”
Gilbert paused, then laughed. “The funny part is, I haven’t been sick in years. I had a mild stroke a few years back, but I haven’t been hospitalized for 30 years.”