As I started driving from Vegas to Lake Havasu, I was wondering what I would be able to say about Eliminator and owner Bob Leach that has not already been said. But one thing I did know was the temperature gauge in the rental car was reading 109 degrees, and the locals told me this was not that hot for this time of year.
It was a Friday afternoon, and I noticed a tremendous number of tow vehicles hooked to custom boats of all kinds, and everyone was heading south for Lake Havasu. I guess when you live in this environment, where one needs water not only for survival but for weekend diversions; you have to expect the occasional traffic jam at the launch ramp. I settled back into my seat, and prepared to experience what the West was all about.
Bob Leach and his company have been building performance boats for more than 30 years. “Custom” is his middle name and “Eliminator” is his game.
Upon arriving at Havasu, I met Bob for breakfast and we talked about the high performance boating industry and its future. I have briefly spoken with Bob several times at performance boating races and shows, but never had the opportunity to sit with him one-on-one and get to know him. This is one builder who gives you the feeling that he is completely hands-on, and it doesn’t take long to realize a great deal of his soul and personality goes into every boat that Eliminator builds. Bob’s face brightens with warmth as he tells you about his past accomplishments, evolving through his racing endeavors. Throughout the stories he told me, it’s obvious his past and present customers have been equally important to the development of his lifelong dedication to boat building.
Bob Leach is not held hostage to any one engine builder, and prefers diversification among his orders. He speaks highly of Mercury Racing, but also holds builders such as Teague Custom Engines and Ilmor Marine Engines – to name a few – in high regard.
To order a back issue call (800) 461-9128 or sign in to read entire article
We finished our breakfast, and headed over to a hanger where he keeps his boats and planes tucked safely inside, protected from the harsh elements of the hot sun. When the doors to this gigantic toy box opened, two 36 Eliminator Coupes came into view. One was a glistening red, white, and blue, and the other test boat was brilliantly painted in shades of red, orange, and assorted matching colors. The wow-factor kicked in when our test boat was rolled out into the desert sunlight. The fine detail work was impressive, and Bob pointed out that this was gel coat and not paint. Boaters from the East Coast rarely see fades and metallic design treatments like this in gel coat. The work was over-the-top, and I knew I was going to be in for a great day on the water.
Our test boat was immaculately fitted with a pair of Mercury Racing 1075 hp engines with Dry-Sump Six drives, which were spaced out on 66” centers with the X-dimension falling 4” above the bottom of the boat. The drives were fitted with a pair of Mercury Racing 16 x 35-inch, five-bladed lab-finished cleaver props. In the center of the drives was a custom Dana MT 4800 tunnel tab to aid the trim of the cat. Shotgun Mufflers were mounted externally to dampen engine DBA at low and high speeds. There was even a set of those cool underwater lights mounted close to the keel for that sexy, nighttime appeal.
Inspection around the boat revealed a custom stainless rub rail that ended at the bow area and flowed into a seamless hull and deck joint. The bow rails were custom-fitted onto the deck and worked around the flowing detailed glass work. All hardware was prepared custom for this Daytona. Whether it was an intake or vent, the designs were flawless.
The Coupe is the reason for this boat’s existence. Not satisfied with the canopy system, Bob realized that too much wind at high speed is not only uncomfortable for the driver and co-pilot; it can be an absolute buzz-kill to those in the rear. He wanted to create an environment that all parties would benefit from, and really enjoy the ride, either in a fully climate-enclosed system, or a partially opened removable top version.
The test boat was fitted with a large removable top that provided an open feeling, with a sense of safety and confidence in the boat’s ability. The interior view was unencumbered by the distortion normally found in bent plastic of this type. It was neatly fitted into the deck receivers and flanged to cradle the windscreen in a race type installation.
Cockpit seating consists of two custom fabricated front buckets with a center console located between them. The shift throttle controls are cleanly mounted so the boat can be throttled by the pilot or co-pilot. Trim controls for the drives are located in the throttles. Indicators are center-mounted in the forward dash, and are clearly visible to both operators. The keyless ignition system is complete with aircraft-style lock-out switches for start and stop operation of the engine. On the starboard side of the dash there’s a Mercury Smart Craft engine monitoring system displaying all vital functions, from rpm to fuel flow and everything in-between, while traditional-style gauges by Livorsi also provide all the pertinent engine information at a quick glance. A center-mounted GPS speedo with a recall switch is located on the center console, just forward of the controls.
The dash is set up similar to a race boat and is user-friendly for both forward operators. The bright, colorful aft bench has three custom embroidered headrests along with drink holders on the armrests. Located on both sides of the cockpit are two, see-through orange cabin doors leading forward. Entering the cabin, you’ll appreciate the storage-style compartment built on the wing of the tunnel. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find this is where the marine AC system is located, ducted into the cockpit and the cabin. We had a bit of a hiccup while testing the boat, but it was fixed easily enough, and it sure was welcome once it was operational. Please note the AC cockpit ducts are located on the mid-ship bulkhead just forward of your legs.
Further forward in the cabin are two port and starboard rear-facing single seats mounted in the tunnel for maximum headroom. In the bow area is a berth that’s large enough to accommodate a couple for those brief overnight stays.
The engine compartment looks as if a team of surgeons could have performed the operation. Talk about attention to detail. Every clamp and every Allen head bolt has a finished bezel. Everything – and I mean everything – is polished and looking tall. There’s not one noticeable screw head. Custom carbon fiber dress covers for the top of the engines… custom this, custom that, it’s everywhere.
After launching the Eliminator 36 Coupe, I noted how correct she seemed at rest. Some cats sit to flat or are rear-end heavy. This one sat just right. Getting in and out of the 36 can be a bit of a challenge though. While I was wearing just socks, the gel coat was so highly finished, it felt like I was walking on smooth ice. Perhaps some well-placed, clear non-stick pads would be a good addition.
Pushing the throttle forward, the boat came up on plane relatively quickly. Loss of the horizon was barely notable and we were off and running. With the throttles set at 2,800 rpm, we were cruising at the 60 mph mark. Not bad for a boat that weighs 9,000 pounds dry. The Coupe was manageable and friendly at these low cruising speeds. Visibility from the front seats was exceptional.
Pushing the throttles harder revealed a speed of 115 mph at 4200 rpm. The boat was predictable for the light condition we were in. When we decided to drop the hammers, I must admit my eyes were not glued to the gauges anymore, they were glued to the water that we were about to cover. This lake gets awfully small in a hurry, and jet skis and ski boats are everywhere. After flipping the tell tale, it held a top speed of 149 mph. This is hauling for any boat. Bob mentioned he thought they will still be able to find another five to 10 mph. Somehow I believe him.
The Eliminator 36 Coupe is not for everyone. But those who choose to go in comfort and style should not overlook this beast. Whether you’re heading to a destination for the weekend or just poker running for the day, the Coupe may be the boat for you.