New speedonthewater.com correspondents Jimmy and Laura Biro enjoyed a fun-filled weekend with members of the Southern California Offshore Powerboat Elite during the club’s 18th annual poker run, which took place for the first time at the Kona Kai Resort in San Diego.
Eric Hamann and Craig Cleaver run Hamann’s recently restored 46-foot V-bottom from Outerlimits. Photos by Jimmy Biro
The Biros, who own a LaveyCraft 29 NuEra that they often take to Catalina Island, admitted being concerned about fitting in since they’d never been to a SCOPE event. They quickly found out that everyone affiliated with the club is passionate, generous and unpretentious.
That was obvious right away as many participants kicked off the poker run weekend on Friday with Operation Gratitude, which provided rides to 50 service men and women, most of whom had never experienced a fast boat let alone even been on a boat before. As expected, the expression and comments were priceless, and the smiles were infectious.
Operation Gratitude’s National Chief Development Officer Chris Clark, who assisted SCOPE with the event, said it was a phenomenal success. The organization, which sends about 150,000 care packages annually to new recruits, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors, caregivers and individually named service members deployed overseas, was the charity behind the poker run—$10,000 was raised for the group. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than one million care packages.
The poker run, which kicked off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, featured more than 40 boats, including models from Cigarette Racing, Donzi Marine and Fountain Powerboats to Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, Shockwave Custom Boats and Skater Powerboats. The speedonthewater.com crew rode in VooDoo, Peter Boyer’s beautiful 32-foot Shockwave powered by twin 575-hp Mercury Racing engines.
Large Pacific Oceans swells cut the poker run short for most, as many participants retreated to Coronado Bay to raft-up and enjoy each other’s company before the party later that evening.
Check out some of the poker run pictures in the slideshow above.
The Biros called out many of the SCOPE board members for making them feel at home, including Byran Hakola, Dave Davis, Jim Dunphy, Chris Grayson and Bill Steiner, aka Junkyard Bill. Laura Biro also wanted to thank Steve Wallace specifically for the ride in his 37-foot Outerlimits Bada Boom—her first 100-mph experience on the water.
Although no dates have been confirmed, Hakola confirmed that next year’s poker run will return to San Diego.