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Quick Notes From The Erie Poker Run: Playing Rough And Having Fun

Story correction June 24, 11:15 EST: An Apache V-bottom and a Checkmate V-bottom did—in fact—make it to today’s lunch stop.

Despite that a large section of clear acrylic windscreen flew over my head a few hours ago thanks to the final cresting wave in a trio of five-footers, I’m not ready to say that Lake Erie—the scene of today’s third annual Erie Poker Run in Pennsylvania—has the worst water on the planet. That would be silly.

First, I haven’t boated in the North or Bering Seas. So any superlatives based on this afternoon’s nasty-water experience in an Outerlimits SL 44 owned by Mark and Karen Tindale of Ontario, Canada, would be at best uninformed. Second, when it comes to any body of water that can sink ships, discussions on which delivers the worst conditions for boats—even 44-foot-long V-bottom performance boats—is moot. Or pointless. Or both.

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Before—Mark Tindale’s Outerlimits SL 44 in flight at today’s Erie Poker Run (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But here’s what I can say: Today Lake Erie dished up the roughest water I’ve ever experienced during a poker run, and from what I’m told those conditions were the best in the three-year history of the event organized by Anthony Scioli of Elite Poker Runs LLC. It was a bluebird day with air temperature hovering in the low- to mid-70s, but the water was every bit of the three- to five-footers—with some mighty deep holes between them—we were told to expect during the drivers’ meeting this morning.

More than 30 boats were registered for the run. My best guesstimate is that 20 to 25 started. By the time we reached the first stop of the run off Barcelona Harbor, there were eight boats—five Outerlimits, an Apache, a Checkmate and a Fountain—still in the first pack. I’m not sure how many boats made it to lunch (no one ventured beyond that) as we opted—discretion being the better part of valor—to turn back after Lake Erie removed our windscreen less than five miles from the meal stop.

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After—Mark and Karen Tindale’s Outerlimits SL 44 at today’s Erie Poker Run minus most of its windscreen. Photo courtesy/copyright Speedonthewater.com

I’m sure glad I ducked when I saw that wave crest over the nose of the boat.

Time to head downstairs to the Sheraton lobby bar to buy Mark Tindale, one of the most skilled powerboat drivers I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege of riding with, and his lovely bride a drink. Or two. We shared one hell of an adventure—yes we did—and, like the rest of those who ventured out for today’s Erie Poker Run, survived to tell the tale.

And you can read all about it in the next issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine, which is scheduled to go live on Monday, July 3.

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