With nine races in locations from Bimini to Missouri on its current schedule, the Offshore Powerboat Association certainly isn’t lacking for action-packed events in 2018. But that hasn’t stopped the organization from entering the poker run game this year with its inaugural Traverse City Invitational Offshore Poker Run—billed as the “first offshore poker run with No. 1 nationally sanctioned offshore racing association”—Saturday, Aug. 18 in Michigan.
OPA’s inaugural poker run promises to attract an elite fleet of high-performance V-bottoms and catamarans.
The event is limited to 50 boats. According to organizer Matt Soper, the formal invitations will go out to a mix of well-known performance-boat owners and industry figures on Monday.
There is no entry fee for the poker run and no charges for Saturday night’s dinner and entertainment at the Hotel Indigo host venue. Instead, donations from participants will be encouraged. All proceeds will go to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northern Michigan organization, according to an OPA press release. A “gift box” for checks from participants will be located in the hotel’s rooftop bar, which is where the post-run Saturday night festivities will happen.
“All 50 spots are full,” said Soper, who owns a 1988 Cigarette 38’ Top Gun called Old School. “I called and spoke to every participant to invite and confirm them. I wanted it to be free to enter with 100 percent of every dollar raised to go to the charity. It’s a new way to run poker runs, and I hope it catches on.
“We also are planning to have about half a dozen OPA raceboats attend—sort of like a exhibition,” he added. “The plan is to get OPA races in Traverse City in the near future.”
Among those participating in the event, according to Soper, are Tom Borisch and Mystic Powerboats founder John Cosker in Low Altitude, a famed turbine-powered 50-foot Mystic catamaran, Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher in Factory Billet, a 51-foot Outerlimits V-bottom and Performance Boat School founder Tres Martin with a client in a DCB Performance Boats M41 catamaran.
Soper has not ruled out expanding the event in the future.
“We wanted to have a select group of people for our first event, and we only have so much room,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t open it up later.”