LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — At the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, the start boat needs to do one thing well: be highly visible. The new Shootout start boat has just arrived at Lake of the Ozarks, and it inarguably fulfills that role.
In 2018, the Shootout start boat was a 540 Cruisers Yacht. The 54-foot boat was well-known to many Lake of the Ozarks boaters because of its full-hull wrap, displaying the owners' business: Fass Diesel Fuel Systems. On the start boat, personnel give directions to the next racer in line, and indicate with flags whether that racer is below the max speed as they approach the start line for the 3/4-mile course. Those same personnel sometimes often get soaked by the accelerating powerboat!
But this year, the Fass crew has traded up. A newer, bigger boat will be replacing the 540 Cruisers Yacht: it's a 60 Cruisers Cantius Flybridge, and the flybridge adds so much height, that it came to Lake of the Ozarks in two pieces. The boat is 60 feet long, 16 feet wide, and 23 feet tall. Pricetag: $3 million.
After being assembled and rigged (which took 3-4 days), the boat was put in at Formula Boats of Missouri last weekend, where the Lake's largest boats typically go in and out of the water, due to the marina's proximity to Highway 54 and wide, accessible ramp.
A 59-foot yacht slipped into the Lake of the Ozarks this week.
"This one's the flagship" for Cruisers, says Austin French, who sells boats for Iguana, and handled the sale for the new Fass Diesel Fuel Systems boat. French has been working for Iguana since 2011: he took a summer job there and liked it so much, he stuck around and made it into a career. Cruisers Yachts are his best-selling boat. "We've got [at least] one of every model on the Lake," he said. The new Shootout start boat is not even the first 60-foot Cruisers on the Lake, French said. (It's the second.) And as companies like Sea Ray move away from manufacturing boats over 40 feet, Cruisers is leaning harder into the 30–50-footers.
The owners of the Fass boat—who French pointed out are self-made business success story—are eager to enjoy their boat on the Lake. "This is their dream boat," he said, adding, "They're really great people. Really humble... they're pretty excited." They'll also be sponsoring the Support Our Troops Poker Run on June 28 at Performance Boat Center. Then they'll be anchored at the Shootout starting line on Aug. 24-25.
Chris Wagner, owner of WIA Marine Insurance, helps coordinate the start-line crew at the Shootout. "The WIA Marine Insurance start boat crew couldn’t be more excited to partner with Fass Fuels again this year for the Shootout," he told LakeExpo.com. "Their boat has made it possible to add better radar equipment, more photographers and the new start boat camera."
French said he's excited the Fass boat will be visible at the Shootout, as it gives the Cruisers brand more visibility in a region where it's not been the dominant player. The boats are built in the USA, but their presence has been mostly coastal and on the Great Lakes. So many Midwest boaters are still unfamiliar with the brand. And, French adds, the same company who built this $3 million, 60-foot yacht is also designing and building bowriders half its size. So Lake of the Ozarks boaters don't need to be mega-millionaires to experience Cruisers quality: French says the Cruisers 33 and soon-to-come 36 bowriders are excellent choices for family boating.
When it comes to large boats like the Cruisers 60 Cantius on Lake of the Ozarks, French knows there will be some detractors.
"I think there's enough room for all," he said, pointing out that while large boats certainly are capable of creating large wakes, vessels half the size of the 60-foot Cantius can still throw out substantial wakes too. Boaters with large boats of that caliber "are conscious that they have a big wake," he noted. And while he clearly can't vouch for all captains, French said the Fass boat owners are very familiar with being wake-aware and want to be courteous boaters.
"It’s all about how you drive the boat," he said, adding, "You're responsible for your own wake at the end of the day." The underlying rule boaters should follow—regardless of the boat's size—he said, is: "Be respectful to other boaters and docks."
Here's a look at the boat's arrival to the Lake of the Ozarks, and its maiden voyage.