With close to 200 boats registered for yesterday’s Desert Storm Poker Run presented by Kicker Marine Audio and thousands gathered for Thursday’s massive Street Party, not to mention today’s well-attended top-speed shootout on the docket, the annual event in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., proved once again why it’s one of the premier poker runs in the country.
The 2022 Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was as memorable as ever. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos
Not only were there boats of different shapes and sizes represented from pretty much every manufacturer that’s ever built a powerboat—that’s the beauty of Lake Havasu—the fleet of top-of-the-line high-performance boats from the likes of DCB Performance Boats, Doug Wright Designs, Eliminator Boats, MTI, Mystic Powerboats, Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, Nordic Boats, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, Skater Powerboats, Statement Marine, Sunsation Boats and more was off the charts this year. You can see it for yourself in the slideshow below.
“We had the best time we’ve ever had at this year’s Desert Storm,” said California performance boater Kenny Gonzales, who had his twin Mercury Racing 1350/1100-powered 43-foot MTI catamaran RedRuM on display during the Street Party and enjoyed the poker run the next day on his home lake with family and friends. “Our RedRuM crew went completely in—the energy was electric, the people were amazing and the entire Desert Storm crew was totally on point. This is my last year displaying, but it will not be our last Desert Storm.”
Gonzales, who also spends time boating on Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma—the state where he grew up before moving to Southern California at age 10 with his mother—was joined this year by a ton of his friends from Oklahoma, including Taylor Doctorman, Steve Grier, Kyle Weese and many others.
“We hadn’t made the trip to Havasu in two years because of COVID so we were rolling no matter what this year,” said Doctorman, who owns a Baja Marine 29 Outlaw that was recently wrapped with a design resembling one of his favorite Outerlimits V-bottoms after he had structural repairs done to the boat and modifications done to its twin Mercury Racing 500EFI engines. “This is the only lake I will drive 18 hours to hang out at for a week (laughs). We love being out on the West Coast with the palm trees and the sunshine. And the Desert Storm Poker Run is like the Super Bowl of powerboating.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the poker run.
South Carolina’s Scott James made the trip to Arizona to run his DCB M33R Widebody catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines and had a blast.
“We’ve been out here all week and it’s been great,” said James, who was in good hands with the DCB crew. “We’re getting on the road to head home tomorrow.”
Fellow DCB owners Mauricio and Angie Vivanco of Southern California said they had a lot of fun between Thursday’s Street Party, where their DCB M44 Widebody catamaran was on display on its tilt trailer, and Friday’s poker run. It’s not easy to stand out amongst a group of DCB creations, but their 44-foot open-bow catamaran sure does.
Another one of the most attention-getting boats in the event had to be Indiana-based performance boater Nick Evans’ 50-foot Nor-Tech catamaran Recovered Money powered by a pair of 1,150-hp H.P. Mafia engines. Evans, who recently started a YouTube channel also called Recovered Money to document his poker run adventures as well as promote his sunken boat recovery business, had never been to Lake Havasu or attended the poker run, and he said this year’s event won’t be his last.
“Desert Storm has been an awesome experience,” Evans said, despite suffering an engine problem at the end of the day Friday after completing all of the poker run stops. “Before I got here I thought the event was going to have a Key West vibe, but it’s totally different. In fact, this may rank a little better than Key West to me between the Street Party and the people. The love we felt from everyone out here was incredible.
“The people were great—I probably talked to 1,000 people on Thursday,” he added. “It was crazy on the strip; there were so many people taking pictures of the boat. And going through the channel before the poker run was pretty cool. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced. I couldn’t have asked for a better time, that’s for sure. It was expensive to come all the way out here from Indiana, but we’ll be back.”
Enjoy more images of the Recovered Money crew in the slideshow above.
While people were taking pictures of the monstrous Nor-Tech on Thursday, Evans was promoting the YouTube channel by selling shirts and raffle tickets for a 26-foot American Offshore catamaran that he is currently restoring to be given away at the Lake Cumberland Thunder Run on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland in June.
“We have 10 big events planned this year and we’re going to do videos from each one,” he said. “I’m no video expert, but I thought it would be fun to create a channel and have some fun with it. Powerboating is my fix—I came from car racing before this—so I just want to do my part to show off how much fun it is. I also wanted to show what we do to be able to afford to do this.”
Photographer Jeff Helmkamp enjoyed hanging out with Nick Evans and his crew on Friday.
Like everyone who participated in this year’s Desert Storm Poker Run, Evans is likely to return home, tell everyone how much fun he had—or in his case show everyone through videos—and bring more friends back with him next year. And that’s why the poker run continues to be a bucket list event for performance boaters around the world.
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