Image of the Week: The Perfectly Giant Raft-Up

In early August, presented an Image of the Week by photographer Jay Nichols called, “The Perfect Raft-Up.” The image came from the 2011 Jackson River Rally Poker Run in Florida, and it presented an impressive fleet of high-performance powerboats, all neatly tied to one another in several three- to-five-boat lines.

imageweek17hugeRaft-up lines of go-fast boats formed social bridges during the 2012 Lake Cumberland Poker Run. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples image.

How long can those lines of go-fast boats get? Pretty darn long—as this image Nichols captured during last weekend’s Lake Cumberland Poker Run in Kentucky proves. There are more than 30 boats in each of the larger unbroken lines in the photo. And who knows how long the line of boats on the left side of the image goes as it exits the frame?

A raft-up, especially one this large, is the poker run version of a social network.

Looking at this photo, you can feel the good time being had by all. And that’s one of the marks of a great photo—it doesn’t just capture the literal content of the moment. It captures the context and emotion behind it.

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Image of the Week: A Labor Day Salute

As the boating season winds down in many areas of the country on this, our nation's 130th Labor Day, it's fitting that this beautifully captured image features a pair of catamarans heading off into the sunset on Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks.

A pair of high-performance catamarans from Douglas Marine/Skater Powerboats cruises along Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks. Photo by Jay Nichols/Naples Image A pair of high-performance catamarans from Douglas Marine/Skater Powerboats cruises along Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks. Photo by Jay Nichols/Naples Image

Taken by Jay Nichols of Naples Image, this image also reminds us of the freedom we have as boaters thanks to our U.S. Military—past and present. So let's take a moment to reflect on the thousands of troops who work every day to keep this glorious country safe and free. There's something about a pair of Skater Powerboats flying across a lake with giant roostertails that screams independence.

Nichols spent nearly a week taking photographs at Lake of the Ozarks thanks to the support of, Chief Performance and Wozencraft Insurance, and he made the most of it. From SuperCat Fest to the top-speed Shootout runs, Nichols documented many colorful performance boats and the sights surrounding them. For a closer look at more of Nichols' images, click here.

Image of the Week: Sudden Stop

The buoyancy of a boat is a powerful force. Simply put, boats—at least those without gaping holes in their hulls—want to float. And yet, as this image captured by ace photographer Jay Nichols proves, even the most buoyant of hulls can get seriously wet if things go wrong.

Clearly, a few things went wrong for this Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran Nichols captured in 2011 coming into a beach area in Key West, Fla.

imagweek16splashdownhugeWet and wild, this MTI cat comes to a sudden stop in Key West. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

Nichols didn’t say what happened, but there are a couple of likely explanations. This could be a landing from a big launch where the driver chopped the throttles before the boat returned to the water. Or the driver could have just pulled back on the throttles as he approached the beach and the cat fell into a gaping hole between swells. One thing’s for sure: This colorful cat has come to a hard, rather wet stop in a hurry.

What’s your theory?

Regardless of how it happened, once again Nichols proves he is master of capturing the go-fast boat moment.

Image of the Week: Full Boat Poker Run Joy

Go on enough poker runs and it’s easy to get that “been there, done that” attitude when it comes to card stops, prizes and parties. But the popularity of poker runs has never been about poker hands—it’s been about raised hands, the kind of thing that happens when you’re flying along in a boat filled with good friends having a fine old time.

imageweek15hugeGood times on the water with friends at Rock the Bay. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

This image of a 38-foot Formula—occupants unknown—from last weekend’s Rock the Bay event in Maryland perfectly captures that joyful moment. Count the passengers and you’ll find six, all wearing PFDs and big smiles. Count the hands in the air—a frequent happening when a camera comes out—and you’ll find three. Sometimes it’s better just to hang on and grin.

Photographer Tim Sharkey captured this image from a 34-foot Phantom V-bottom running 85 mph on the Chesapeake Bay, not an easy thing to do.

“I can’t believe I got these shots,” said Sharkey.

Sharkey was referring to the challenge of holding a camera steady in a running boat. As for the content of the image itself, it’s hardly a rare find at poker run. But it is a classic.

Image of the Week: The Perfect Raft-Up

The first time I saw a group of powerboats raft-up to one another was more than 15 years ago at the Lake Texoma Poker Run. My editor at the time, Eric Colby if my faulty memory serves, decided it was time to send me out on the road for a heavy-dose of go-fast boat reality. So he assigned me coverage of the Lake Texoma Poker Run.

What a heavy dose of the go-fast boat world it was. I spent the weekend hanging out with throttling great Jerry Gilbreath and boat- building legend Reggie Fountain at a mind-blowing waterside “shack” owned by Lake Texoma regular, Doug Frank. While I’m pretty sure neither Gilbreath nor Fountain actually knew I was “hanging out” with them, Frank and I became fast friends. And I never forgot the experience of that weekend. It was—larger than life.

imageweek14hugeA perfectly executed raft-up, like this one at the 2011 Jackson River Rally Poker Run, is a thing of beauty. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.

The other thing I never forgot about that run was experiencing my first-raft up. When I saw what all these guys in monster go-fast boats were about to do—or try to do—I was horrified. Tie together a bunch of expensive, heavy, bobbing fiberglass toys with expensive paint jobs in a line with only fenders to keep them from destroying one another? It seemed like a recipe for disaster.

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