For the second time in four years, Vern Gilbert is leaving Texas with a little extra hardware in his truck for the tow home to Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Gilbert, of West Coast Drives in Lake Havasu City, ran Predator—his 1991 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran—to a top speed of 158 mph down the new three-quarter-mile course to claim the fastest speed overall in the National Shootout Championship during the 10th annual Texas Outlaw Challenge in Clear Lake, Texas.
In the Rev-X Oil-sponsored 40-foot Skater, Vern Gilbert and Bruce Bullock made several passes down the 3/4-mile course at the Texas Outlaw Challenge National Shootout Championship on Clear Lake. Photo by Ryan Johnson/Speedonthewater.com
While conditions for Friday’s Shootout, which took place for the first time in the more spectator-friendly location of Clear Lake, were far from ideal, the approximately 40 boats that registered for the shootout put on a good show while managing to remain safe.
Gilbert, who has competed in offshore racing and at plenty of shootouts over the years, said he played it safe out on the course. Not only was he without his normal wingman, Gary Smith, whose flight was cancelled because of severe weather, he knew the wind gusts could be devastating. He also was working with more power than normal thanks to the boat’s new 2,100-hp Carson Brummett engines.
“Fortunately when Gary had to cancel, I asked Bruce Bullock if he’d run with me so he did,” said Gilbert, who made a few passes as well as an exhibition one on the new course. “Bruce was great we just didn’t have the right water and we never once got to full throttle. To be honest, I went home Friday thinking I got my ass handed to me. Turns out that wasn’t the case. The boat has more in it, Friday just wasn’t the day to push it. It’s all about coming home safe.
“I love this event—it helps that I just won the shootout for the second time,” Gilbert chuckled. “The people at the Texas Outlaw Challenge are great. As usual we’re having a blast out here. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do in August at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.”
For more of Ryan Johnson’s images of the Predator Skater in Texas check out the slideshow above.
Checking in with the fastest top speeds overall behind Gilbert, who ran 176 mph on the one-mile course with Smith in the boat on another somewhat breezy day in 2014, were Dean Hollier and Chad Sage, who ran their 32-foot DCB Performance Boats cat up to 156 mph, and David Spear, who got his Distant Thunder MTI running 150 mph.
Tied for fourth place were two local favorites, Clear Lake’s Kenny Mungle, who ran the Team Gone Again Skater 388 cat up to 124 mph, and Seabrook’s Art DiNick, who had his American Offshore cat running the same speed.
Another top speed of note was the fastest V-bottom in the bunch—the recently upgraded Outerlimits 47 GTX XXX: Disturbing the Peace, which is owned by Cass Shewbart and ran 115 mph. You can read about the boat’s debut last month here.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of the entire Texas Outlaw Challenge through the eyes of a newcomer—Speedonthewater.com’s national sales manager Ryan Johnson.
Predator Skater Runs 176 MPH to Win GPS Outlaw Shootout
New Shootout Course and More Building Excitement for 10th Annual Texas Outlaw Challenge
Texas Outlaw Challenge Wrap-Up: Off the Charts
Sunday Fun Day: Vern Gilbert