Mostly shallow and often tortured by high winds, Lake Erie can produce water as foul as that of any ocean. Just ask Anthony Scioli, the organizer of this weekend’s fifth annual Erie Poker Run in Pennsylvania. For the first three years, the event saw conditions that kept much of the fleet in the Erie Basin marina, and while conditions were far better in the event’s fourth year they were still less than ideal at times thanks to lake-level fog.
But fortune smiled this weekend on the Elite Poker Runs, LLC, leader and his poker-run fleet. Blue skies and glassy one- to two-foot seas were the order of the day.
“Whenever the weather treats you well, there’s nothing better,” said Scioli. “It only took five years.”
Of the 23 registered V-bottoms and catamarans, 19 took to the water. (A transmission issue kept title sponsors David and Nichole Weschler of locally based title sponsor Empire Landscaping, Snow and Construction Service off the water in their 52-foot Outerlimits, but they caught a ride with another participant.) A new backer of the event, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats was well represented by the company’s Dan Kleitz, who rode with Ed Urbanek of Ohio in Urbanek’s SL 52 sportboat, Vinnie Diorio in his SV 43 and more.
“Erie was a great event and it has an amazing venue for a poker run,” said Kleitz, who is the sales manager for the Bristol, R.I., company. “Anthony and his team did a great job with the entire event all weekend—the food was great and the water was perfect.
“I know all our customers had a great time as well,” he continued. “We’ll be back next year.”
McLaren Boston’s Danny DeSantis, who owns a Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran and Jason Lindemann, who owns Sweetwater Performance Center and Marina of Oshkosh, Wis., as well as 46-foot Outerlimits cat, also signed on as first-time sponsors for the event. Not only did DeSantis bring his spectacular 38-footer powered by Mercury Racing 1100 engines, he transported two McLaren automobiles and the former Spirt of Qatar team trailer to display in front of the Sheraton Hotel host venue.
“That was huge for us,” said Scioli. “Even though we had a pretty small fleet, the displays in front of the hotel attracted hundreds of people.”
To enjoy more images from the fifth annual Erie Poker Run check out the slideshow above.
Scioli put two helicopters in the air—one for video, one for still photography and both for safety.
“Expensive as it is, I think I am going to have two helicopters in the air at all my events,” said Scioli, who flew with the videographer and kept in radio contact with his longtime friend Steve Mckie and three emergency medical technicians on the event’s safety boat. “On a big-lake poker run it’s almost impossible to keep track of everyone. Having two helicopters really helped and the conditions were so calm that the safety boat was able to do the entire run in both directions.
“Plus, we were able to get so much photo and video content,” he added. “All the boats got ample video and photo time.”
The event raised $4,600 for the Erie-based Children’s Advocacy Center.
“People were super generous,” said Scioli. “Jason Lindemann, who told me he is ‘100 percent coming back,’ gave an extra $1,000 to our charity. And he loved the venue.
“I heard that again and again—everyone really loved the venue,” said Scioli. “I think we ended up with 75 or 80 people at the banquet last night. From the food to the hotel itself, I heard nothing but great things.”
Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats sales manager Dan Kleitz joined Ed Urbanek and friends in Urbanek’s SL 52 sporboat (click image to enlarge).