Tripped by COVID-19 restrictions on large-group gatherings, blockbuster events in the go-fast boating world—with the exception of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri—fell like dominos last year. Postponements, which were inevitably followed by cancellations, became the norm. Every week, it seemed, we had to report bad news of yet another big-time event, from the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana to the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in New York, biting the pandemic dust.
For more incredible images such as this unique one of the Drogon Cigarette 42X getting up close look at the LeConte Glacier in Alaska, get the new Speed On The Water 2020 Year In Review magazine. Photo courtesy Clint Jenkins/Jenks Imaging
But that doesn’t mean nothing happened. Smaller events, and our coverage of them, thrived in 2020. With most of the obvious must-cover poker runs gone, many of the smaller ones, such as the Lake Champlain Poker Run in Vermont, found themselves in the spotlight. New events, including the Sarasota Blast On The Bay Fun Run in Southwest Florida, which attracted a not-so-small 120-boat fleet, and the 35-boat Roar Offshore Fun Run not far down the coast, appeared. All will become part of our regular coverage rotation in the years ahead.
The 2020 go-fast boating year delivered us a crisp wake-up call to work harder and dig deeper. Everyone knows about the Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan and the Desert Storm Poker Run in Arizona, both of which were cancelled. But how about the Unleashed Poker Run in Northern California or the Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Poker Run in Key West? Yes, both were first-year events. But if we hadn’t been challenged to find them, we probably wouldn’t have.
Whittled down to just three events in September and October, the offshore racing season still delivered great moments and performances, and was well-worth covering.
And there was zero slow-down in new-boat sales last year—on the contrary, every boat builder you’ll find in the 2020 issue reported being flush and even backlogged with new orders. Before 2020, go-fast powerboat owners didn’t talk much about “social distancing.” But thanks to their center consoles, catamarans and V-bottom sportboats, they always knew they had exceptional access to it whenever they hit the water.
Our takeaway from 2020 in the go-fast boating world is simple: Challenging as the bittersweet year was to cover, it was worth every second of the effort. And you can read all about it in our sixth-annual Speed On The Water Year In Review magazine.