Continuing what has become a trend in poker run operating procedures across the country, this year’s Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run (July 16-18) in Georgia is swapping out its traditional “flag-drop” start for a 9 a.m. general start time. That’s the word from Dan Jape, who along with Beau Renfroe is one of the key organizers of this year’s event, which already has more than 100 boats registered.
Even with bad weather during the past three years, the Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run has grown significantly—and this year’s changes reflect that growth. Photo courtesy/copyright Jeff Gerardi/FreezeFrameVideo.net
“For reasons of safety and liability, we decided to make it more of an open start,” said Jape who owns a 36-foot Eliminator Boats catamaran with twin 850-hp engines. “We’ll all leave from Lanier Island but we won’t drop a flag. People can make the card stops in any order they want. I’m sure a lot of us will get together in packs of five or six and run together, and there will still be plenty of high-speed running. The time start also will help out the smaller boats and make it less of a ‘bathtub’ for them being behind the larger, faster boats.
“We just don’t want any tragedies or disasters,” he added. “We have been told by the Corps of Engineers that all it will take for us not to get permitted for the run again is one major accident.”
Last year’s 300-plus boat fleet quickly overwhelmed the event’s lunch stop. This year, the run will have four or five lunch stops with a variety of different food, according to Jape. “These (changes) are just byproducts of the run growing so large,” he said.
Given that bad weather has plagued the run for the past three years, its continued growth has been impressive to everyone involved. Jape said that this year’s changes could be even more important to the success of the event if the weather happens to be good, which will substantially increase the number of boats on the water during the weekend.
“Lake Lanier is normally pretty full on a July weekend day, and it’s very unusual to have that much rain in July,” Jape said. “The weather forecast for this year’s event is good. Last year’s bad weather kept a lot of spectators off the lake. If the weather is good this year, we could have twice as many spectators and a third more boats.”