While organizers of the first Traverse City Offshore Invitational OPA Poker Run—yes a poker run sanctioned by the Offshore Powerboat Association racing organization—expected to put on a top-shelf event for the 60 invited guests to Traverse City, Mich., last weekend, it’s apparent that even they didn’t realize how exhilarating the event would be.
The first Traverse City Offshore Invitational OPA Poker Run in Michigan was a huge success. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
“We put so much time and energy into this event that I had all the confidence in the world that it would be a success,” said Matt Soper, one of the primary organizers of the event that benefits Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northern Michigan. “We have room for improvement, but thanks to great weather and an incredible group of people it was an awesome picture-perfect event. Officially we raised a little more than $30,000, although we may end up with more when it’s all said and done.”
With 52 boats officially in the run, Soper said the invitational event is likely going to remain at the 60-boat limit next year for accommodations reasons as well as the fact that he thinks that is a “good number” for keeping the personal touches that made this first-year run so memorable.
“Thank you Matt Soper and Travis McDougall for putting on a great event,” said Chad Copeland, who owns a Formula Boats sportboat. “I know there were several others who helped plan this so thanks to you as well. I am honored to have been included in the first and hopefully annual poker run —it was a great success.”
Lori Lemanske, who rode in her friends Joe and Nikole Glfstorf’s Cigarette Racing Team 42X rather than Fast Priority, her and Bill’s well-known Nor-Tech 39-foot center console, thanked Soper and company for all of their hard work to put together a “wonderful, fun-filled and safe poker run.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Traverse City Offshore Invitational OPA Poker Run.
Soper said one of the most touching things that happened at the event was when the owner of 45 North Aviation, Michael Terfehr, told him the Michigan-based private aircraft company that supplied the helicopter for the event would foot the bill so the event could make a larger donation to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.
“A member of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters made a speech that touched us all,” Soper said. “Mike came up to me and said not to worry about the bill for the helicopter. That saved us $5,000 right there and to be honest, I got a little choked up over the gesture. Everyone was so incredible. From the safety teams, U.S. Coast Guard boats and the three county sheriff’s departments we worked with, they were all so helpful. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the support of the OPA. They brought instant credibility to our event and organizational structure that comes with years of experience.”
McDougal, one of the boaters who helped organize the event, also got to show off his latest new ride. After selling the 44-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran he drove at last month’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan, McDougall purchased MAX, the well-known 39-foot canopied catamaran from Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats that was built by Michigan performance boater Burton Kirsten. According to Soper, McDougall had a blast.
“The coolest group of people and boats we could have dreamt of being here showed up and had an amazing time,” Soper added. “We can’t wait to do it again next year.”