The first time I saw a pontoon boat tearing down the course at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, I laughed. Hard. As I did the second and third time and—to tell the truth—every time I’ve seen one since. There is something inherently goofy and funny about them.
Pontoon boats aren’t just ungainly, they are antithesis of speed on the water. Just look at one. Does that thing look fast to you?
When you think about pontoons, you think about barbecues and cocktails and watching the sunset with family and friends. You don’t think about wearing a full-face helmet and violently porpoising at 100-plus mph.
And yet in a very real way, the Pontoon classes embody the “run what you brung” spirit of the Shootout, which happens at the end of this month. I do love the exotic big-buck stuff that reaches speeds that approach and exceed 200 mph. But the pontoons are as much about the dream and joy of going fast—and what it takes to make that happen—as they are about actually going fast.
And, as this Jay Nichols image from last year’s Shootout shows, they can produce some pretty wild runs that, like the boats themselves, are a hoot to watch.