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Lightning Strikes With Fountain’s Potent 42-Footer

Coming off shoulder surgery that had him in a sling, Jeff Harris, the chief operating officer of Fountain Powerboats, gingerly climbed behind the helm station of the Washington, N.C., company’s reimagined 42 Lightning sportboat during a media event. His job for the morning was taking reporters in town—this one included—for demo rides in the 42-footer powered by dual-calibration Mercury Racing 1350/1100 engines, the first in the history of the company to be set up with the turbocharged, quad-cam four-valve mills.

The new Fountain 42 Lightning is a well-mannered, easy-to-drive aquatic hot rod. (Click image to watch video.) Photos by Mark Spencer copyright Fountain Powerboats.

Stoic gentleman that he is, Harris was in obvious pain that seemed to vanish as he slid into the driver-side bolster, fired up the boat and pulled away from the docks with his passengers. Once on the Pamlico River, he ran the boat to an easy 120 mph before returning the Fountain facility to pick up another group of scribes.

Throughout the absurdly smooth ride, a smile creased his face. His hands were light on the boat’s steering wheel and throttles. If Harris wasn’t having fun, he was doing a bang-up job of faking it.

“It’s such an easy boat to drive,” Harris said, then chuckled as he and guests idled through the channel leading to the docks.

That a man still recovering from shoulder surgery had enough confidence to take a bunch of marine writers for 120-mph boat rides spoke volumes about his faith in the boat itself, which was ordered by Greg Knutsen, a longtime Fountain fan who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Fred Ross: “This is the new Fountain with better fit and finish, more luxury and the best performance.”

Fred Ross, the owner of the Fountain, Donzi Marine and Baja Marine brands also was in town for the press event. And to say he was pumped up would be understating things. Badly.

“Did you feel unsafe at all during your ride?” Ross asked this reporter later that morning. “That boat is on rails. All of our boats are on rails. That’s how we design and build them. That’s how they are supposed to be.”

Though Ross believes deeply in all the brands he owns, he is particularly bullish on Fountain. He grew up enjoying the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri, a longtime hotbed for the brand with a steadily increasing presence thanks in large measure to the efforts of Big Thunder Marine. The 42 Lightning, said Ross, is simply the most recent sportboat byproduct of the company’s focus on speed, overall performance and luxury.

Enjoy images of the Fountain 42 Lightning in the slideshow above.

“We didn’t just throw some paint on an old boat,” he said, referring to the new 42-footer. “We always will pay homage to the ‘old Fountain,’ but this is the new Fountain with better fit and finish, more luxury and the best performance. We don’t go into everything we change on any given model. What matters is how it performs and feels—and the pleasure you get out of it.

“I am so proud of what Jeff Harris and the team have done,” he continued. “The upholstery work, the paint, the fit and finish—all have been raised to the highest level and we’re still improving.”

Ross described himself as “lucky and blessed” enough to be able to run the Fountain model of his choice on any given day. Though he doesn’t have a “favorite” so far, the 42 Lightning could well be a contender.

Fountain chief operating officer Jeff Harris ran the new Fountain 42 Lightning effortlessly to 120 mph during a media event.

“If I’m with my family, I want to be in a Fountain 43, 38 or 34 center console,” he said. “If I’m going out in really rough water like Lake Michigan, I want a Fountain 47 Lightning because it doesn’t care what’s going on out there. But, if I want to get out there and just rip it up, the 42 Lightning would be my choice. It’s a luxury hot rod.”

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