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HomeEvent CoverageFifth Annual Lake Champlain Poker Run ‘Best One Yet’

Fifth Annual Lake Champlain Poker Run ‘Best One Yet’

The proud owner of a new-to-him DCB M37R catamaran, Lake Champlain Poker Run organizing-committee member Chris Fisher isn’t prone to exaggeration. Nor is his friend and fellow organizer Brian Hoar, who owns a Statement 360 cat.

But in Fisher’s case, Hoar is willing to make an exception.

New England locals and go-fast powerboat community notables, Danny DeSantis and Daren Kittredge enjoyed the fifth annual Lake Champlain Poker Run with a few friends in DeSantis’ Skater Powerboats 426 catamaran. Photos by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.

“Make sure everyone knows that I made it to every card stop ahead of Chris, “Hoar told a reporter after last weekend’s fifth annual Lake Champlain Poker Run in Burlington, Vt., then laughed.

Informed of this, Fisher chuckled. “Of course he said that,” he responded.

As for the actual event he and Hoar produced with fellow organizers Nicole Carlson, David Wulfson and Julie Kramer, Fisher didn’t equivocate.

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A couple of longtime friends and devoted poker-run organizers, DCB catamaran owner Chris Fisher and Statement Marine cat owner Brian Hoar jousted over the supremacy of their respective rides.

“It was the best one yet, hands down,” he said. “We had the worst weather and the best participants. We had to dodge a few showers but never got rained on.

“We had 57 boats in the run and we were super-happy with that,” he continued. “And zero people canceled because of the weather.”

Every year since they founded the event, the organizers have added layers of value to it. In the happening’s early days, participants went their separate ways when the run was complete—there was no after-party. Now, event has before and after parties at the Burlington Harbor Marina Boathouse.

Framed by unspoiled country, Lake Champlain is among the Northeast’s most spectacular waterways.

This year, the organizers added a Friday lunch run to the Old Dock Restaurant in Essex, N.Y. The run attracted a dozen boats and 40 participants.

“They catered to our group very well—the owners of the Old Dock are boaters,” said Fisher. “And the Old Dock has the best view of the entire lake, anywhere.”

The organizers even built on an already popular element of the run. This year, the Saturday lunch stop at Mooney Bay Marina on the New York side of the waterway was catered.

“The food was fantastic,” said Fisher. “Everybody raved about it.”

A Super Stock-class offshore racer from the Northeast who had competed a week earlier at the Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge in Sheboygan, Wis., Daren Kittredge was among this year’s participants. Dubbed Northwing, Kittredge’s team is backed by McLaren of Boston/McLaren of Charlotte owner Danny DeSantis, a Lake Champlain Poker Run first-timer who ran his Skater Powerboats 426 catamaran in the event.

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An eclectic 57-boat fleet tackled the Saturday poker run.

“It was incredible, as usual,” said Kittredge, who has participated in the run since it began five years ago. “We had some rain but made the best of it.”

Added his Massachusetts-based friend DeSantis, “It was great fun. We had to skip around the weather, but it was a great run and very well organized. They did a great job.”

Fresh from the Weekend At Ronnie’s—Skater-man Ron Szolack’s annual celebration of the Skater brand—the previous weekend in the St. Clair, Mich., area, DeSantis vowed to return what is a local event. That was music to the ears of Fisher.

“Danny told me, ‘I am bringing a gang with me next year,” said Fisher.

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Organizer Brian Hoar presented awards during the lunch stop at Mooney Bay Marina.

As it has for the past few years, the Lake Champlain Poker Run raised money for Camp-Ta-Kum-Ta. In 2022, the event brought in $30,000 for the Vermont-based summer camp for children battling cancer, as well as those who have overcome the disease. While he doesn’t have precise total of money raised for the charity last weekend and won’t until the end of the week, Hoar is confident that this year’s total will substantially top last year’s total.

“I believe we will be above $45,000,” he said.

As pleased as he was with what looks to be a record-setting fundraising effort, Fisher was even more delighted with the number of families that participated this year.

“A lot of people brought their children on the run,” he said. “If someone feels safe enough to bring six- to 10-year-olds on our run, that’s the best compliment we could get.”

The owner of this DCB M37R catamaran, organizer Chris Fisher described the fifth annual Vermont happening as, “the best one yet, hands down.” Photo by Chris Fisher.

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