From the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual adventure to Key West to the Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan, there is no shortage of marquee happenings in the go-fast boating world. The 35th annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri, yet another example, roars to life next week. Even the most casual high-performance powerboating fans know about those big-name events.
This weekend’s fourth annual Rock The River Fun Run attracted an eclectic mix of new and vintage performance boats. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But there are plenty of events that deliver big fun without the big name, and this weekend’s fourth annual Rock The River Fun Run in the Cincinnati area is one of them. The event, which happens on the Ohio River and travels those waters in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, attracted 110 registered boats this year.
An estimated 80-plus boats actually participated in the Saturday run—still a solid number for an event most go-fast powerboat owners likely have never heard of—and some 60 boats ran in the Friday lunch trek.
“We have never had to cap the entries before but this year people just kept registering,” said Pat Feldhaus, who organizes the event with his twin brother, Matt, and friend, Micheal Caligari. “So we shut it down with a week to go.
“Having Pete Boden show up also really got the participants excited,” he added.
The chief photographer for speedonthewater.com, Boden always is looking for “new” events to capture, and this was his first Rock The River Fun Run. The late Bill Beischel and George Campbell—Beischel’s best friend—of Cincinnati first launched the event as a poker run, but it eventually lost traction and disappeared. Feldhaus and his fellow organizers revived it four years ago.
“I give it a big thumbs up,” Boden said. “The Friday night street party in Covington and the lunch run earlier that day were really cool, as was the Saturday run.”
The Beischel and Campbell names are likely familiar to devotees of the Skater Powerboats and Performance Powerboats brands. Justin Beischel, the son of the late Bill Beischel, owns Short Circuit, a well-known Skater 368 model he built up from a mostly bare hull constructed by the Douglas, Mich., catamaran company. The son of George Campbell, Brian Campbell owns a vibrant new Performance Powerboats P-360 catamaran.
A couple of longtime friends whose roots in the Rock The River Fun Run go back to their fathers, Brian Campbell and Justin Beischel campaigned their contemporary Performance Powerboats and Skater catamarans to the event.
For Beischel and Campbell, who grew up together and are headed to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout next week, the Rock The River Fun Run is a local event that taps into their shared family history.
“The Cincinnati powerboat river scene died pretty hard,” Beischel explained. “The last Rock The River Poker Run, that’s what it was called back then, was probably around 2004 or 2005. The Feldhaus family is kind of bringing it back with this reinvented event.
“It was big and it was fun, but the Rock The River Poker Run never had 110 registered boats,” he added.
Manhattan Harbour Yacht Club in Dayton, Ky., was the host marina for this year’s event. The predominantly V-bottom fleet included mid-2000 builds from the likes of Fountain Powerboats and Donzi Marine, as well as more current builds such as Brian Campbell’s 36-footer, center consoles from Deep Impact, Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, Renegade Boats and Sunsation Powerboats and a new DCB Performance Marine M37R Widebody catamaran co-owned by Kiran Pinisetti of Indiana and Upstate New York’s Kelly O’Hara.
Blasts from the past, as well as the present, were everywhere on the Ohio River this weekend thanks to the Rock The River Fun Run.
Though the boat was on display at the Friday night street party, Pinisetti didn’t run it the following day as the cat is headed to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout (read the story) presented by Performance Boat Center next week. He and O’Hara currently have just one set of propellers for the Mercury Racing 500R outboard engine-powered 37-footer.
“This was the biggest showing Rock The River has had so far and they couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Pinisetti said. “There were participants from Iowa, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
“Of course, there were all your usual derelicts from Indiana,” he added, then laughed. “And the DCB was a huge hit at the street party.”
Though they didn’t get it on the water this weekend, Kiran and Jessica Pinisetti displayed their new DCB M37R catamaran in the Friday night street party.
But the show-stealer was a vintage 1985 Cigarette Racing Team 38-foot flat-deck restored to perfection by former offshore racer Andy Trauth.
“It’s classic and beautiful and absolutely perfect,” Beischel said. “Andy is the one who motivated me to build my trailer and engines, and rig the boat myself. And he helped me out. He was the brains of the operation.”
As for the Saturday run itself, the organizers kept things simple.
“It was a total of 97 miles,” Feldhaus explained. “We headed west 43 miles from the harbor to collect a chip and then came back up-river to another stop about six miles past the host harbor, and then returned to where we started.”
The event raised more than $25,000 for the Cecil Dye Foundation, which helps those battling cancer with their living expenses.
“That is twice as much as normal and all because of people who come back every year to support the run and its cause,” Feldhaus said.
Like Campbell, Beischel likely will return to the Rock The River Fun Run next year. It is, after all, a local event for him, and he has plenty of distant happenings on his 2024 roster. Plus, Rock The River conjures memories and the legacy of his father, who died in 2013.
“The highlight this year was getting to run alongside Brian and getting photos of that, which I haven’t seen yet but am excited about,” Beischel said. “It was that and Brian getting to take his dad on the run.”
Andy Trauth’s immaculately renovated 1985 model year 35-foot Cigarette sportboat turned heads at the docks. Photo courtesy/copyright Justin Beischel.
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