Friends abroad are great to have. Take my friend Helmich Hillen, a rabid performance-boating enthusiast who lives in The Netherlands and owns a 27-foot Checkmate. Almost two years ago, Hillen reached out to tell me about a couple of poker runs he was tackling in Sweden. One thing led to another, and I found myself covering both events firsthand. From the idyllic waterways in the thickly wooded, rocky Swedish countryside to the lifelong friends I made—Hillen chief among them—in Falun, Smedjebacken and Stockholm, it was an enlightening experience I won’t forget.
The first poker-run in the Mediterranean off the French Riviera is set for June. Who’s in? (Click image to enlarge.) Photo courtesy/copyright Alfred Zu Hausen/MPN.
Hillen and I have stayed in touch via Facebook messenger since our summer 2018 adventures in Sweden and he even came to Key West, Fla., with a Swedish contingent of go-fast boat enthusiasts later that year. Most recently, as in last week, he sent information on the 2020 Riviera Poker Run on June 20. Yes, I’m talking about the French Riviera, the one that includes Cannes, arguably Europe’s premiere summer playground for the rich and famous.
Celebrities, nightclubs and such don’t interest me, but boating on the Mediterranean off France’s Southern Coast, the famed Côte d’Azur, most definitely does. So I reached out to my friend Alfred Zur Hausen in Germany for more information.
Zur Hausen is the principal of Gelsenkirchen-based Marine Partner Network (MPN), Europe’s premiere Cigarette Racing Team dealer and one of the few Mercury Racing-certified dealers on the continent. He has a strong client base in Southern France, and he always knows what’s happening on the water in the region.