With many marriages never making the 10-year mark, it’s amazing that the boatbuilding partnership between Buddy Gentry and Steve Sauer has lasted for more than 40 years. And they haven’t just hung on either. The pair constantly pushes the edges of performance and styling on purpose-built sport-fishers to the point where a G&S has become the boat of choice for many anglers choosing to chase world-record fish on light tackle.
During the late ’60s, Gentry was a well-known Destin, Florida, charter-boat captain, while Sauer attended Lousiana State University, where he was working on his engineering degree. The two young men got together in the offseason and built their first fiberglass boat. When Sauer graduated, he convinced Gentry that they could build boats for a living, and G&S was born.
Gentry and Sauer started out building charter boats for the Destin fleet, primarily a beamy, 31-foot sport-fishing hull that was an instant classic among the local cobia fishermen. They ended up building 15 of those. As the Destin charter fleet grew, so did G&S. Orders started to increase throughout the ’70s, and the two men branched off into building their first high-end game boats. The boats got bigger, the teak more beautiful and the hulls more finely tuned for chasing billfish.
With the new game-boat market opening up, Gentry and Sauer needed a larger shop, so they moved their operation from Destin to Freeport, Florida, in January 2000. They built a shop large enough to build two boats at a time if needed. They also purchased a travel lift large enough to handle any boat they would build in the future. This opened an opportunity for the Destin Fisherman’s Co-op to start up a boat yard next door to G&S, so the whole community benefited from the move. The new more efficient shop also enabled the pair to build larger boats and finish them faster. It was about at this time that the two made the decision to concentrate on the high-end sport-fishing market.
G&S builds every hull using fiberglass and composites with no structural wood. Sauer’s engineering background and design aesthetic shines through in the boats’ beautiful lines, wheel pockets and shaped sterns -— the latter two aspects providing G&S boats with extreme backing capabilities. It is easy to see why these boats are so in demand with light-tackle anglers.
While G&S boats are known for their ability to maneuver in reverse like no other, they are custom boats, and no two are the same. Some just out-perform others. “We built several boats with the same hull as Hooker, but none performed in reverse like Hooker,” Gentry says. “We figured the center of gravity was farther forward because the 903 Cummins were so much heavier than the engines in the other boats. No one else wanted a light-tackle boat at that time, so we didn’t think much about it. Then, some of the owners of the larger boats — large was 55 feet back then — wanted more maneuverability and speed in reverse, so we built a few of them with the cutaway stern. The cutaway didn’t provide as much lift as we thought it would, but it did let cleaner water get to the props.