A bittersweet event to be sure, yesterday’s inaugural Ray Nuchereno Memorial Poker Run—formerly the Buffalo Poker Run—in Western New York attracted 63 high-performance catamarans and V-bottoms, a dozen of which came from Canada. As reported previously on speedonthewater.com, the run, which was the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association’s signature event for many years, was organized this year by Anthony Scioli of Elite Poker Runs LLC and renamed for Nuchereno, a respected member of the local go-fast boating community who died in June after a long struggle with cancer.
For those who tackled it after lunch yesterday, Lake Erie dished up big water. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The festivities started Friday evening with a reception party and dinner at Templeton Landing, the host venue. Based on Lake Erie’s rough conditions, Scioli opted to shorten the run from 70-plus miles to 50 miles with an abbreviated course that kept participants primarily on the Upper Niagara River rather than the lake’s open water.
A few participants did run on the lake after lunch for a photo shoot. “Pete Boden got some awesome photos of the big boats out there,” said Scioli.
The event raised $2,000 for Excalibur Leisure Skills Center, Inc.—a local adaptive aquatic recreation program—and $1,600 for Change MS, a Multiple Sclerosis charity, during last night’s awards dinner. Steve Mckie, the president of the Western New York Offshore Powerboat Association, presented the club’s annual awards and reportedly made a moving speech honoring Nuchereno.
For more images from yesterday’s Ray Nuchereno Memorial Poker Run check out the slideshow above.
“It was emotional,” said Scioli. “Steve’s speech brought a lot of people in the room to tears, but then we got the mood positive again with the awards for the poker run.
“I heard stories about Ray all day from people who had met him at the poker run during the years, on the docks, whatever,” he continued. “But I also had guys who didn’t know him coming up to me and saying, ‘He sounded like a cool guy. I’m sorry I never met him.’
Scioli had initially hoped to attract 100 boats to the event, but was delighted with the lower turnout. He’s actually been rethinking the importance of fleet size in poker runs since his 20-plus-boat Mentor Poker Run last month, he said.
“I’ve never had a better time at a poker run that I did in Mentor,” he said. “I loved having 63 boats in Buffalo. It’s a great number—very easy to manage. I really do like the smaller poker runs. I do have to make some changes. The last-minute registration thing isn’t working. We had 10 boats show up in a one-hour window on Saturday.
“You learn a little bit every year,” he added. “I am pretty confident we will have a much better event next year. But it may even be a little smaller.”
Said Peter Roberts of Double R Performance, one of the event’s sponsors. “Tony only puts on good runs.”