The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout started in 1988 so that local powerboat owners could establish exactly who had “Top Gun” bragging rights. The fun of it – and the spectacle – caught on, and “The Shootout” became an annual event on Lake of the Ozarks. As time went by, a charity was created by the Shootout organizers to help lake-area fire and water rescue responders. Along the way, more and more people and organizations got involved, and the fundraising component grew.
The nation’s hot boat racers started coming to the event and established ever-faster “top speed” records. In 2009, reportedly there were over 70,000 spectators for the event, and David Scott set a “course” record of 196 mph. The next year, he and John Tomlinson set a new course record of 208 mph. That year. Over $70,000 was reportedly raised for charities.
Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Today
In 2022 “The Shootout” was a weeklong affair with all sorts of activities, both on the water and off. For example, there is a clay pigeon shootout, a golf tournament, there are poker runs, a remote-controlled mini-shootout, and silent auctions for charity. During the week, the race drivers give “Make a Wish” kids rides as part of that charity outreach. Since 2008, $3 million is said to have been raised for 40 local charities, including eight local fire departments.
Shootout categories: Race divisions are sliced and diced so there is a “level playing field” for nearly every type of boat and operator. For example, among catamarans there is: Top Cat (Fastest Cat manufacturer); Top Cat (Fastest Cat Professional; Top Cat (Fastest Cat non-professional). Then, the same routine for other categories of boat, like V bottoms, PWCs, pontoon boats (Top Toon), etc. are organized, along with categories by size, six of them, starting a 22’ and going to 50’ and over.
There are also classifications for types of engine, stock, modified, and highly modified, turbines, and “700 Merc Only.” There are also three categories for outboard engines, one for 2-stroke, one for 4-stroke under 375, and one for 4-stroke over 400. There is even a category for diesel engines, and we assume that is for inboard engines, as evidently diesel outboard makers in Sweden and England, have yet to hear about the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
The “Shootout” race is really against the clock, as there is no boat-to-boat racing.
“Top Gun” – is the fastest boat overall, with its speed recoded at the end of a ¾-mile course -- no matter what it is, how it’s powered, or who drives it.
Electric power is one of the newest categories, and so it is here that Vision Marine Technologies has entered boats the last two years. Vision Marine CEO Alex Mongeon, and his engineers, selected and then set up the Hellkat 32 catamaran. Because this is a lightweight cat there is very little running surface in the water at 100-mph, it is an ideal way to show off VMT’s 180-hp electric outboards.
The propulsion used was a pair of the VMT motors that the company has been prototyping and perfecting for at least the last two years. Vision says it’s production model will be the first 180-hp outboard designed with a propulsion package that includes throttle control and monitor to enhance efficiency. Octillion Power Systems Lithium-ion batteries were used in the record run, and previous announcements have stated that this company will provide batteries for the production models.
Dewalt supplied both 32” and 34” props, but it wasn’t reported which ones were used for the record-breaking run. STR (Shaun Torrente Racing) Dynamic jack plates were used on the rig. It has an electric system with a settings controller. Because STR has a full machine shop, everything was custom and built just for the boat and the record run.
Bruce Nurse, director of business development for Vision Marine Technologies, said, “We designed our own stackable 700V battery banks that fit into the hulls of multiple boat types.” Two of these provided the power for the glory, one set for each motor in each side of the catamaran.
VMT Proving Grounds
This run more than doubled the speed Vision Marine hit last year at the Shootout in an all-electric Bruce 22 monohull with a single prototype Vision Marine outboard. The Bruce, which is also built by VMT, was clocked at 49 mph, but now Vision Marine has more than doubled it last year’s Ozark record.
Battery capacity. Because of the very nature of battery capacity, electric boat motors have a limited endurance and range at high speed. Typically, battery power is husbanded for the task at hand. For the Lake of the Ozark Shootout’s 3/4-mile course, the Vision Marine system had more than enough capacity to break the record.
Vision Marine’s intended production 180E powertrain system is, by a considerable margin, the most powerful electric outboard which is close to scale production thus far. Vision points out other electric outboard motors have been low-voltage, low-power, and therefore unable to attain high speeds. VMT has not yet announced when its production electric outboards will be available to the general public, other than in a Four Winns bowrider.
Vision Marine’s electric outboards will be appearing on 2023 models from Groupe Beneteau, including its Four Winns H2 sportboat. “Depending on the number of people in the boat, you could probably reach anywhere between 40 and 60 mph,” says Nurse referring to the new Four Winns. Vision’s literature notes the boat will be able to cruise at a 20 mph, which is a planning speed, in order to go as far as 60 miles before having to recharge.
“The purpose of this race is to showcase the power, speed and torque off the line of electric boats,” says Nurse. “We want people to know that the option is out there for a fast boat, with 90 percent less maintenance, zero carbon emissions and noiseless cruising.”
We’re told that the VMT team is already eyeing up next year’s Shootout with the aim of beating this year’s record.