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Commentary: Desert Storm is the New Worlds

There was a day when I considered going to Lake Havasu, which is formed by dams and fed by the Colorado River, time off my sentence in hell. Lake Havasu is in the middle of the severe Arizona/California desert, and while the desert is starkly beautiful, it’s just not my idea of a place to go boating. It has grown on me a bit after 15 years of testing boats there with Powerboat magazine, but just a bit.

So why am I counting the days to Desert Storm, April 22-25, which will happen on this remote waterway and its nearby metropolis, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.? Because Desert Storm has become, arguably of course, the performance-boating event of the season.

OK, call it a three-way tie among Desert Storm, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout and the Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker Run.

Notice I wrote “Key West Poker Run” and not “Key West Offshore World Finals.” (Who are we kidding, other than ourselves, with that title?) That’s because to me, the Worlds have always been more about who’s there than the actual racing. On any evening during that week in November, you could run into high-performance notables from offshore racer John Tomlinson to industry veteran Craig Barrie.

Want to run into those guys—and many more whose names you recognize—now? Head for Desert Storm, because they’ll both be there. Tomlinson will run a Dave’s Custom Boats catamaran with DCB founder Dave Hemmingson. Barrie will be there to represent Donzi, a sponsor of the Platinum Powerboat Club’s “Puttin’ on the Wish” event during Desert Storm, and will run a Donzi 38 ZR Comp.

And if you think Friday’s poker-run will be nothing but West Coast custom river cats and low-slung V-bottoms, think again. Boats from Mystic—namely the 50-foot-long JBS offshore racing catamaran—Cigarette, Skater, MTI, and Nor-Tech will be there.

For things to do and see over a four-day period, Desert Storm is unmatched. Events include the “Puttin on the Wish” ride day, a performance-boat and product street fair, the poker run itself, a top-speed shootout and an offshore race.

So I’m looking forward to heading to Havasu for Desert Storm, and I’ll report on it here in real time. For me at least, it’s the new “worlds.” I missed them last year—but I really didn’t miss them.