Two things happened for the first time in the 31-year history of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, a high-performance powerboating event held on the popular waterway in Missouri.
On Saturday afternoon, the course was closed after a spectator jumped off a floating mat and into the water at around 2 p.m. and never resurfaced, according to lakeexpo.com. The drowning victim was recovered by Missouri State Highway Patrol divers at 10:47 p.m. and identified as 23-year-old Sean Burgess of Peoria, Ill.
As soon as Burgess was reported as not re-surfacing, officials closed the course to racing for the day and divers started searching. It was the first time in the event’s history that the course had to be closed due to an incident in the spectator fleet.
Burgess was part of a spectator fleet that stretches for most of the 8/10-mile long course near mile marker 34.5 on Lake of the Ozarks. Boaters traditionally raft up for the event and spend the day lining the course until racing is closed for the day.
One of the boats planning to run on Saturday afternoon was Don Onken, Sr.’s 51-foot Mystic catamaran, American Ethanol, which is powered by four supercharged engines designed by Onken that make a combined 9,000 hp. The pair of engines on each side of the boat are linked together and translate their power to the water via two BPM surfacing drives.
American Ethanol had made a run earlier in the day on Saturday, but only hit 143 mph with Mystic Powerboats owner John Cosker throttling and Tony Battiato driving. During the live stream on Lakeexpo.com, it was revealed that the boat had electrical problems. When the course re-opened Sunday morning, the duo was first in line and ran 201 mph, earning the Top Gun trophy for the fifth straight year, despite losing a propeller blade near the finish line. Lake of the Ozarks native and multi-time offshore racing champion Dave Scott and John Tomlinson had also teamed up to take the Top Gun trophy for five straight years from 1997 to 2001.
On the V-bottom side, Ben Robertson, owner of BAR Marine in Jacksonboro, S.C., took the honor of fastest V-bottom for the weekend when he ran 143 mph in a 42’ Fountain that his company repowered with Mercury Racing 1350/1550s.