Although organizers Matt Soper and Travis McDougal originally planned their inaugural Offshore Powerboat Association Invitational Traverse City Poker Run to host 50 high-performance catamarans, V-bottom sportboats and center consoles, the final registration number for the Northern Michigan event stands at 60 entries—with 40 boats on the now-closed waiting list.
A 46-foot Outerlimits catamaran, Jeremy Tschdia’s Topless will be part of the Offshore Powerboat Association Invitational Traverse City Poker Run fleet. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“I think our connection to OPA has helped out quite a bit,” said Soper. “Our run is free to enter, with every dime—our participants are expected to write a check to the Boys And Girls Club of Northern Michigan—going to charity.”
From Tom Borisch and John Cosker in Borisch’s famed turbine-powered Low Altitude 50-Mystic Powrboats catamaran to Todd Fountain in Tom Cat, an equally well-known Skater Powerboats 46-foot cat, the entry list reads like a who’s who—and for that matter a what’s what—of the national go-fast boating scene. Soper expected some push-back and friction regarding the event’s invitational format, but he said he’s been pleasantly surprised by the lack of conflict.
“Travis and I are self-funding this poker run,” he said. “Not having sponsors certainly is a challenge. That’s why we made it invitational. I know everyone on the list and it’s a really, really good group.
“We thought it was going to be a lot more negative, but once we talked to people who wanted to come but weren’t invited—and I wasn’t afraid to take those calls—it was OK,” he continued. “Those people who don’t boat with us normally, they understood. We really are restricted by the Indigo Hotel venue—we can only have 180 people for dinner. For a lot of the participants, it’s turning out to be a ‘couples getaway’ weekend.”
The run will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. and the poker run course will take the fleet—with paceboats for all four groups—from Traverse City to Sutton’s Bay, Northport and Elk Rapids. The fleet with finish with a raft-up at Power Island.
Said Soper, “I think our pilot is going to fly his helicopter back to the airport after the run, then bring (speedonthewater.com chief photographer) Pete Boden back to Power Island to shoot there.”