The numerous flags standing at attention this morning at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill, the headquarters for this weekend’s 30th annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri, were a strong sign that things would be challenging for the competitors on the three-quarter-mile course. And that proved to be true throughout the morning of top-speed runs, which saw sustained crosswinds of 12 mph and gusts up to 20 mph.
American Ethanol matched its 2017 Shootout record-setting speed of 204-mph today—and is coming back for more tomorrow. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The winds did subside somewhat in the afternoon, but the heat rose to hit the predicted 95-degree mark.
“We’re calling it a weekend,” said Jason Parvey, who ran 153 mph with his father, Dennis, at the helm of the family’s 43-foot Black Thunder V-bottom. “The flag on the start boat was sticking straight out and it’s supposed to get windier throughout the weekend. Our steering wheel wasn’t straight during our entire run down the course and we got a little sideways. We don’t need to keep doing that.”
At least today, that V-bottom speed will stand as Factory Billet’s Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher produced a top-speed best of 139 mph in two wild runs down the course in the canopied 51-footer.
“About halfway down the course, we caught a crosswind that threw the boat from side to side,” said Schultz. “We were running 153 mph at that point—we have that on the computer—so we were on track to kill it. We’re going to take the boat back to Camden on the Lake (Factory Billet is on display as part of the concurrently running Super Cat Fest) and come back tomorrow.”
The wind wasn’t a factor in the performance of returning overall Top Gun winner American Ethanol, according John Cosker, the throttleman of the 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran owned by Don Onken. But a mistake in the cockpit did cost the team some top end during its 189-mph run.
“We got about halfway down the course and realized I had forgotten to latch my canopy lid,” said Cosker, who ran the 51-footer as he did in 2017 with Tony Battiato of Big Thunder Marine. “So I had to lift off the throttle and latch, and we pretty much went back to neutral. Still, with all that going on and getting 189 mph, I was pretty impressed.”
But Cosker and Battiato weren’t done. On their next run, they reached 198 mph and on their third and final run of the day—moments before the course closed—they hit 204 mph. That matched their 2017 three-quarter-mile course record. And they’ll be back tomorrow.
For Tony Chiaramonte of DCB Performance Boats, there won’t be a tomorrow. That’s because Chiaramonte, one of the owners of the El Cajon, Calif., custom boat company, ran customer Shawn Gibson’s Top Secret M35 catamaran powered by Mercury Racing dual-calibration 1550/1350 engines to 168 mph.
With a 168-mph pass today, Tony Chiaramonte said he was more than satisfied with the performance of Shawn Gibson’s new M35 catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines.
“We got 167 mph in an M35 with 1550s last year,” Chiaramonte said. “So running 168 this year is good enough for me.”
Coming all the way from Ontario, Canada, Mark Weigl of Tuff Marine provided one of the most impressive performances of the day. Weigl ran his 28-foot V-bottom, which is powered a Mercury Racing 860 engine, to 125 mph. (In ideal conditions the boat reportedly will top 130 mph.)
In the single-engine V-bottom category, Mark Weigl’s Tuff Marine 28 was untouchable today.
On a more local level, Scott Blumberg—who is from St. Louis—was pleased with his runs today as he and Andy Sanders of Performance Boat Center reached 117 mph in Blumberg’s 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran that he’s owned for almost a year.
Blumberg has raced a 30-foot Predator in the top-speed event before but this was his first year in the 32-footer powered by twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines, and he had a blast.
With a 117-mph top speed, Scott Blumberg’s 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran led the Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engine-powered catamarans in today’s contest.
“I didn’t get a chance to check out the spectator fleet, heck we didn’t even look at the rpm like we wanted to during our run,” Blumberg said. “We were focused on one thing only, going as fast as we could. We’re definitely happy with 117.”
The first day of the 2018 happening also provided some milestone events. Randy Scism of MTI was joined in one on his 340X sport catamarans powered by Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards engines by his 22-year-old daughter, Taylor. The father-daughter team ran four passes and reached 114 mph twice.
“This was my first time racing and to do it with my dad and follow in his footsteps was really cool,” Taylor Scism said. “Since he was the original Shootout champion (Scism won the 1989 event with a top speed of 101 mph) 30 years ago, it was amazing to be able to go out there with him and run in the event this year.
“I was a little nervous the first time we ran down the course in front of the spectators, but I kept focused on the finish line and tried not to think about how many people were watching us,” she continued. “We’re going to run again tomorrow. We’d like to see 115 even though our goal was to run 110 mph.”
And the first electric boat ever to compete in the event reached a heart-stopping 25 mph. Driven by Boating magazine’s Randy Vance, the 22-foot Calypso V-bottom was powered by an 80-hp, 66-kilowatt Torqeedo outboard motor hooked to a BMW i3 battery.
On the flip side of “firsts”—at least to the best of our knowledge and ability to research—this year’s Shootout saw the first 25-footer powered by a single T-53 turbine engine under the hatch. John Hice of Panama City Beach, Fla., ran his 25 SVT Warlock catamaran. From a standing start rather than the allowed 40-mph start speed, the 1,300-hp boat reached 112 mph.
John Hice wowed the crowd in the spectator fleet with his turbine-powered 25-foot Warlock.
Editor’s note: Look for Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Day Two Highlights tomorrow evening, as well as a comprehensive feature on the event and Super Cat Fest in the upcoming July/August issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine. Check out the full results from the Shootout here.