Along with Performance Boat Center's Craig Amptmeyer and Lake of the Ozarks native Shane Sherman-a longtime friend and crewmember of the Skater's owners, Tyler and Lindsey Miller of the Kansas-based M CON underground utility business and fan-favorite offshore race team-speedonthewater.com photographer Jeff Helmkamp was on board as a guest/witness/deckhand for the late-August early morning attempt on Wednesday of the lake's busiest week: Lake of the Ozarks Shootout week.
The joyful Millers, who also own a stunning new Cigarette Racing Team 41 Nighthawk (the Cigarette and Skater were featured on the cover of the latest digital magazine), were intent on breaking the record for the approximately 188-mile roundtrip from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and back, and hopeful they could tout their accomplishment later that evening where the boat was set to be on display in the Performance Boat Center portion of the always-packed Shootout On The Strip.
With the record established at 2 hours, 29 minutes and 49 seconds on Sept. 20, 2014, in a 39-foot Skater V-bottom powered by twin 480-hp Cummins diesel engines and Arneson ASD8 surface drives, the Millers felt like they had a good chance at pulling it off in their outboard-powered 36-foot Skater. They also knew anything could happen and went into it with that attitude.
In fact, this is what Tyler Miller, who told speedonthewater.com that he's hoping to try the Dam Challenge again in the near future maybe even between races in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and Key West, Fla., said in an interview the day before the attempt.
"The big factor for why we want to attempt the Dam Challenge is that this is our hometown lake and we thought it might bring added excitement to the Shootout week for us and everyone else in town this week. It's kind of a cool record that a lot of locals talk about around here. If nothing else, it will be fun to do. You know us-we're always looking for a good reason to go boating.
"In theory, we should be able to break the record, but you never what can happen in an endurance run like this. We could hit some debris or have a mechanical failure. I'm just excited to give it a shot. If we end up not beating the record, at least we got a beautiful boat ride out of it."
Helmkamp, who lives in Illinois and is very familiar with the lake from covering events at it for many years, was also joined by Speedboat magazine's Todd Taylor to document the attempt, which unfortunately fell short when the team suffered a mechanical issue on the return leg from Truman Dam to Bagnell Dam.
In typical fashion, the Millers didn't give up after learning the prop shaft and lower unit on the port engine was damaged. Instead, they communicated with Performance Boat Center technician Jake Leckliter, who was on call for the team he crews for at offshore races, to meet them with the trailer and a new lower unit to make the swap. In the end, the team made it back to Bagnell Dam with Lindsey Miller leading the way with a run up the docks to touch ground and stop the clock at 4 hours and 25 minutes.
Although the Millers didn't finish in the time they expected, everyone in the boat learned a lot and had a great time. As you can tell by the slideshows of images above, which includes a complete gallery of just rear-facing engine shots, Helmkamp enjoyed himself and the nice weather while getting a relatively quick tour of parts of the lake he's never seen before.
He'd probably even volunteer to go again if the call comes in. Stay tuned.