Lonnie Fluent, former general manager of Lake Havasu, AZ-based Nordic Boats and a genuine icon in the performance boating community, passed away on Tuesday. He was 64.
Fluent’s professional career in the marine industry spans four decades, having worked in boat sales and racing boats competitively for many years. He famously worked for Karl Koster, builder of the Reinell line of runabouts, and raced circle boats in the 1970s. He was also a driving force on the Catalina Ski Race circuit, at one point driving a boat that pulled his son, Aaron.
During his stint at Nordic Boats, Fluent and then company owner Orville Sommerstedt built molds for a special 21-foot Nordic with a large blower motor to compete in ski racing.
When Nordic changed owners, Fluent worked with Ray Jones at Long Beach Yacht Sales in Southern California and helped son Aaron launch Absolute Speed & Marine in Lake Havasu. In recent years, he worked for Magic Powerboats and also sold boats for his friend of 30+ years, Bill Draper, at The Boat Brokers & RV in Lake Havasu, where Fluent had worked back in the 1990s.
“All of the boatbuilders knew him,” Draper said. “He didn’t know a stranger, and he was loved by everybody.”
Fluent, affectionately described as “a gentle giant” by his friends, had recently finished restoring a 1982 Sanger V-Drive 20′ Mini Cruiser. “It was in a fire in Northern California and a total disaster,” Fluent told Performance Boats in 2013. “I worked on it for almost three years, and put in two shows and won them both. Everybody goes crazy when they see it.”
On May 17, Fluent told friends and family members that he was entering a hospital in Las Vegas for triple bypass surgery the next day, because “I’m 90% clogged up,” he said. The procedure turned out to be a quintuple bypass; although the surgery was reported to be a success, Fluent died several days later.
The outpouring of affection on Fluent’s Facebook page from friends and business associates across the country speaks volumes about how beloved this industry veteran was, and the staff of Performance Boats offers its condolences to his family.