Between the launch ramp and not one but two marinas, some 15 volunteers logged two-and-a-half sweaty days helping 62 powerboat owners and their guests enjoy last weekend’s Lake Champlain Poker Run in Burlington, Vt. But weeks before the first boat touched the water, local sponsors stepped up to cover uncommonly high operational expenses—courtesy of inflation—for the fourth annual event.
There was no shortage of smiling faces aboard Dan St Hilaire’s 47-foot Fountain V-bottom during last weekend’s Lake Champlain Poker Run. Photos by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
“It takes an entire community to make an event like this happen,” said Brian Hoar, a member of the poker-run organizing group that includes David Wulfson, Nicole Carlson and Chris Fisher. “From volunteers and sponsors to participants, people really stepped up this year. Thanks to them, even with fewer boats and higher organizing expenses, we’re going to be really darn close to the $32,000 we were able to donate to Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta last year.”
Hoar attributed the dip in registration this year—the sold-out 2021 event attracted 75 boats—to skyrocketing lodging rates in Burlington and historically high fuel costs. But though the fleet was smaller, the event itself was bigger. Based out of two facilities this time around, Burlington Harbor Marina and the Burlington Community Boathouse, it included a Friday lunch run to the Old Dock Restaurant and Marina in Essex, N.Y., and a Saturday night post-run party. Both were “firsts” for the happening.
Perfect weather was on tap for both days of the event.
“It was excellent, as always,” said Jack Gladke of Upstate New York, who for the third year in a row ran his Donzi 38 ZRC Red Baron sportboat with his friend Joe Laquitara. “We lucked out again with great weather and water conditions combined with great people and organization.
“We actually stayed on the New York side of the lake and boated in,” he added.
Another Lake Champlain Poker Run veteran, his fellow New Yorker Kelly O’Hara, agreed.
“It was perfect—spectacular scenery, great friends awesome boating, all for a wonderful charity,” said O’Hara, who shared the cockpit of his 36-foot MTI catamaran with his wife, Julie, and friends.
With 62 boats in the mix, there was no shortage of fine hardware on Lake Champlain last weekend.
To help lower costs for participants in 2023, Hoar and his fellow organizers will be working to secure a block of hotel rooms. That process will start in the next few weeks. In the meantime, they’re back at their day jobs and decompressing from producing another successful event.
“The feedback we’re getting from everyone is that it was a great event,” said Hoar. “We’re really looking forward to next year.”
Julie O’Hara (and Sally the patriotic wonder pooch) joined her husband, Kelly, and friends in their 36-foot MTI catamaran for the fourth annual Lake Champlain Poker Run.