Well-known high-performance powerboat photographer Jay Nichols sustained a serious back injury during a low-speed mishap at yesterday’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City, Mich. Nichols reportedly was shooting pictures when the 34-foot Sunsation center console in which he was riding encountered large cruiser wakes.
“We were about four miles out of port and there was big cruiser up in front of us,” said Wayne Schaldenbrand, one of the owners of Sunsation, who was on board with several other passengers and his brother and fellow company owner, Joe, at the helm. “Joe was driving, and he slowed down to 6 or 7 mph and headed straight into the wake. Jay came off the seat, and somehow he landed on his camera.
“He didn’t want to go back in, but as when we got into rough water he said, ‘I can’t take this,’ so we brought him back.”
Experienced performance-boat owner and enthusiast Randy Wild, who also was on board the 34-footer, described the incident in a Facebook post.
“We were on the Sunsation in the front and we came up on 75′ Viking wake from the starboard, and Jay was up front taking pics looking over the port side, as was I,” he wrote. “The boat slowed to less than 10 mph probably, but the bow went up really high and slammed into the second wake and Jay hit the deck. Then we had two or three more waves to get through that just bounced us around up front.”
“I bounced twice after I fell,” said Nichols during a telephone interview yesterday.
Nichols was taken to a local hospital, where it was learned through an MRI that he had fractured his T-12 vertebra in the incident. At press time, his physicians had yet to determine whether or not surgery would be required.