From high-water and debris in Old Hickory Lake to wild weather, the Old Hickory Fun Run, Bar Crawl and Raft Up outside Nashville, Tenn., has presented its share of challenges the past several years. But according to third-year organizer Chad Collier, this weekend’s sixth annual event was seamless.
While yesterday’s Old Hickory Fun Run didn’t have the largest fleet in the event’s history, the run was smoother than it’s ever been. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix and Kevin Johns/Instant Memories Photography.
“It went off without a hitch,” Collier said. “The weather was perfect, the water was perfect and there were no major mechanical issues for the boats, at least that I’m aware of. The worst thing I’ve heard about was a lost set of car keys this morning. That’s not bad.
“I’ve been working with the same group of volunteers for the past three years, and they’re getting better and better,” he continued. “And I think the (Blue Turtle Bay Marina) venue is getting better and better at handling a crowd that size.”
While the 115-boat fleet was a little less than Collier expected, the number of participants was higher. Collier attributed the decline to “boat-pooling”—especially on performance-oriented center consoles.
“Most of the people who usually come, like David Southern, came but didn’t bring their own boats,” he said. “David, for example, came and ran with Matt Garland and Kenny Ray Schomp on their Mystic center console. People are still coming, but they aren’t necessarily bringing their own boats.”
Garland hauled the Mystic Powerboats M4200 luxury performance center console powered by quad Mercury Racing Verado 400Rs engines with Schomp from Lexington, Ky., to Nashville, and was glad he made the trip again.
“I think this was third or fourth year going to the run,” said Garland, who also owns a 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran with Schomp. “We decided to bring the Mystic, not the Skater, because Old Hickory can have a lot of debris and isn’t the best place to run that fast of a boat. We had a great time. Pete (Boden, speedonthewater.com’s chief photographer) even went out with us on Friday. Of course Nashville that evening was a ton of fun.”
Despite the lower boat count, the event boasted its traditionally giant raft-up after the run and on-water lunch from Jet’s Pizza. The post-dinner auction that evening raised approximately $50,000 for Operation Stand Down Tennessee. Participant Chuck Stark had the winning bid on a guitar signed by the famed Lady Antebellum country music group, and promptly gave it to Lyman Collier, Chad and Heather Collier’s four-year-old son.
For more images from the Old Hickory Fun Run, Bar Crawl and Raft Up, check out the slideshow above.
Being able to contribute to the veteran’s services charity is the key driver for Collier as an organizer. But bringing together the people he’s come to know during the years through go-fast boating events runs a close second.
“In a way, it’s all about getting to spend time with your friends,” he said. “I’ve met most of my best friends through poker runs, and a lot of them I only get to see once or twice a year. It’s an excuse for all of us to get together. That’s what poker runs are all about.
“We have a great following of people who come every year,” he added. “Mark and Britney Godsey came and stayed the weekend at our house. The whole thing went better than I expected and I have to give a special shout-out to Philip Kyle and Chuck Stark for their generosity during the auction. It was incredible.”
But there was, in fact, one “hitch” for Collier. Running later than he had planned, he arrived 10 minutes before yesterday’s run to find the batteries dead in Habitual, his 44-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines.
“I forgot to turn off the battery switch,” he said, then laughed. “So we got on our Sea Ray 540 Sundancer and did the run on that.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on July 30 to reflect a change in the amount—from $40,000 to $50,000—of money raised for Operation Stand Down Tennessee.