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California’s Big Cat Poker Run Roars Again

The usual suspects who make the Big Cat Poker Run one of the coolest events on the West Coast were on hand in Discovery Bay, Calif., once again this year. Folks like Karl Koster in his Cigarette Racing Team center console, Gary Colledge in his unique closed canopy Skater Powerboats catamaran, Ed Stewart in his MTI catamaran and the legendary Bob Teague of the event’s title sponsor, Teague Custom Marine, in his beautiful Skater catamaran.


Several of the 80-plus boats signed up for the Big Cat Poker Run in Northern California made their way to Saturday’s first stop at Pittsburg Marina. All photos by Jason Johnson/Speedonthewater.com

Of course dozens of other loyal local participants—not to mention longtime organizer Glenn Hoffman, who participated in his Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom—played a significant role in the positive atmosphere that was apparent during Thursday’s Sponsor VIP party, Friday’s lunch run and welcome party, and Saturday’s poker run and dinner/awards party that followed once participants returned to Discovery Bay Yacht Club that evening.

The familiar faces help make the poker run what it is today, but this year’s event also had a lot to do with the newcomers who had an amazing time at the event. Of the first-time attendees who had a great time and are likely to return, the Nordic Boats crew brought both an outboard-powered 28 SS sport cat and its latest 35 SS with twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines, as well as the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., company’s stunning 43-foot catamaran, and Randy and Cherell Scism of MTI made the trek from Missouri to California to show off the company’s demo 340X model powered by a pair of the all-new Mercury Racing 450R engines.

The team from Eliminator Boats also went all-in this year as the face of the new ownership group behind the iconic Southern California—Jake Fraleigh—attended the run for the first time in nearly a decade to support the dozens of Eliminator customers who made the trek to Discovery Bay. Fraleigh told me he had a great time and was impressed by the number of Eliminators in attendance.

Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Big Cat Poker Run.

On hand for Saturday’s festivities, I met first-time Big Cat Poker Run participant Don Bliss, who owns a gorgeous new MTI 340X catamaran. Bliss, who is from Oregon, said he enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the different boat owners as well the opportunities to really drive his 34-foot sport cat around the meandering California Delta waterways.

“You really get a chance to see how your boat turns when you come to Big Cat,” Bliss said with a laugh after rafting off at the stop in Pittsburgh Marina. “We’re having a great time. It’s cool to see so many different types of boats here.”

Amongst the boats that caught the most attention of the spectators at the docks during the lunch stop at University Plaza in Stockton or at Windmill Cove Resort and Marina just west of Stockton as the boats were coming and going, was Dave and Buffie Megugorac’s impressive DCB Performance Boats M44 Widebody catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines.

There were several other DCBs on hand, including Mark Cooper’s F32 Hot Wired and Mark Noack’s F29 Pegged, which recently received a new set of 1,200-hp Teague Custom Marine engines connected with IMCO Marine SCX4 drives.

And, like any event, last weekend’s practically ideal weather played a significant role in the overall participation numbers as the run included 86 registered boats this year. Although final fundraising numbers have not been reported, Hoffman and company expect to raise more than $50,000 for the Discovery Bay Lions Club.

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