POKER RUNS WEST===RIVER
AUGUST 2-4, 2002
capitol of California, located at
the confluence of the Sacramento
and American rivers is also known as “The River City”. Recognizing the boating opportunities
provided by these rivers, surrounding Delta area and the many lakes the
Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau developed the Sacramento
Bridge to Bridge Waterfront
Festival to showcase this great recreational boating destination. The River City Run poker run was an integral
part of the Sacramento Bridge
to Bridge Waterfront Festival kicking off the event with its run on
Friday. Unlike any other poker run or
performance boating event this event was FREE to all participants.
a California gold rush era river
front settlement area with its historic buildings, unique shopping, many
restaurants and great entertainment provided the perfect location for the
festival and poker run headquarters. The
public docks in Old Sacramento provided excellent berthing for the boats and
close proximity to the host hotels of the Delta King and Embassy Suites. The Delta King is a historic riverboat that
has been converted into a unique hotel and entertainment facility and served as
Friday morning all poker run boats in Sacramento departed
for Walnut Grove, about 25 miles south on the Sacramento River, to meet up with
those heading up from San Francisco, Discovery Bay and other areas of the Delta
Region. With all boats together the run was on back to Sacramento
for our grand entrance to the city kicking off the three day Festival. Excitement was high with many testing their
rev limiters in the smooth river water.
With the poker run boats being the feature attraction of the Festival
Chris Ayres of Poker Runs West worked closely with city officials and the media
timing the fleet’s arrival at the Old Sacramento docks for live television
coverage at high noon. With the NBC
affiliate KCRA televisions helicopter and others overhead, interview media on
the docks and a greeting by Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo poker runners were
treated to a royal welcome. Media
coverage was intense throughout the weekend with interviews of participants and
film of their boats shown on all newscasts.
The poker run continued throughout the day as participants
hit the local waterways with stops at Crawdads, Sushi On The
River, Delta King, Virgin Sturgeon and Rio City Café to pick up their cards.
and the Sacramento Visitors and Convention Bureau kicked off the evening
festivities with a cocktail party on the floating barge overlooking the river
for all participants. As everyone knows
poker runs are not about winning money and this being a free event it was
obvious that winning big money was not in the cards. However spicing up things was LIFE’S A
BET.COM providing a $500.00 prize for the best hand. Not only traveling the farthest from Grand
Junction, Colorado but winning
the poker hand were “The X Muscle” team of Bud McMahon
and Charlie Hamman. Proving that poker
runs are not about winning money Charlie and Bud put up their winnings
sponsoring an open bar on the Delta King for all to enjoy. What a class act by two class guys. As the party wound down
teams headed off to one of the many restaurants and watering holes in Old Sacramento.
The event name “Bridge to Bridge Waterfront Festival”
references the fact that the center of activity is located between the Tower
Bridge and the I Street Bridge with
picturesque Old Sacramento between them. The weekend was filled with land activities
featuring food, entertainment, vendors, marine displays and activities for the
kids. The center of attention was on the
water though with racing jet skis, wake board demonstration, speed skiing,
bare-footing drag boats and marine safety demonstrations. Scott Pelleton and Mike Timby,
representing Sanger boats, provided exciting water sports demonstrations
throughout the weekend.
Poker runners and their boats were definitely the stars of
the Festival as they participated in the “River City Shoot-out” radar
runs. With the river closed to all boat
traffic for approximately 2 miles participants were afforded an opportunity to
run with speed in a controlled safe condition. The Coast Guard and their
auxiliary along with five local police and county sheriff agencies were joined
by the specialized DART (Drowning Accident and Recovery Team) providing high
level safety and security for the course. The river turns about 15 degrees a
1/3 of a mile past each bridge requiring everyone to line up carefully and consequently
some boats never achieve their absolute maximum speed. That fact is perfectly fine with most of the
participants, as they understand that the concept for the event is to have fun
and showoff their spectacular boats to the public and ultimate top speed was
not a serious issue to most. Many
participants commented that they felt much safer going fast on the closed
course with all of the safety patrols in place than during a poker run. Life Jackets and kill switches were required
but the relaxed atmosphere could be easily seen by the many boats with four or
more people waving on their run to the 20,000 spectators who took in the event
over the weekend.
Performance is a driving force with most poker runners as
evidenced by the time and money put into their passion and the pride they take
in their boat. As the run groups
proceeded on Saturday it became obvious who was shooting for speed and their
personal best. The wind Saturday played
havoc with the course for the drag boats and some of the water sports
demonstrations as well as holding down the speed of some shoot-out boats.
Saturday evening the talk was of the windy weather, the fun
of running the boats in front of a big crowd and some of the very respectable
speeds turned in. Old Sacramento’s
restaurants, clubs, live entertainment and numerous attractions provided
something for everyone throughout the evening.
Sunday morning dawned clear and calm setting the stage for
some to go for their personal best on the radar gun. To maintain the fun atmosphere of the event
specific classes are not structured and everyone receives a plaque for their
participation. The event does recognize
two special achievements though, that of fastest V-bottom and cat.
Charlie Herman and Bud McMahon didn’t drag their 33’
Powerplay “The X Muscle” all the way from Colorado
to settle for any less than their best.
Holding the 2001 v-bottom record from Lake of the Ozarks
their goal was to hold both titles simultaneously. Fighting with mechanical gremlins on Saturday
and making some changes to the boat they wondered if they had it all together
for their final runs on Sunday. The
crowd on the Delta King knew they had worked some magic and roared their
approval as “The X Muscle” screamed by at 114mph. They had done it and now held the record for
the River City Shoot-out as well as the Lake of the Ozarks.
Harold Cornelius in his 32’ Skater “Freedom” knew the course
well being the 2001 event record holder for cats with a 141mph record run. Saturday Harold made some easy passes giving
friends rides in the 120mph range.
Sunday was a different story though.
Terry Laughlin, of Discovery Bay, California
knows more about “Freedom” than anyone having been responsible for putting the
custom package together for Harold. With
Terry in the cockpit now it was time to get serious and Harold and he did
ripping off a series of crowd-pleasing runs with a best of 141.2mph. The “Freedom” team had done it again taking
home the top cat award. Their name will
again be engraved on the perpetual trophy kept on board the Delta King.
What a fantastic weekend it was, kicking of with the poker
run Friday, all of the Bridge to Bridge Waterfront Festival activities and the
poker runners boats featured in the “River City Shoot-out” radar runs. Ed Ashton, the mayor of Old Sacramento and
the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau were overjoyed with the publics enthusiastic response to the event and the poker
runners safe demonstration of performance from their fantastic boats.
Combining a poker run with the only radar gun “Shoot-out” in
the West and a water festival with parties and entertainment is a big winner
and it being free to all participants
made it in the eyes of many the
best event in the West. With the 2003
event set for July 18-20 interested participants should contact Chris Ayres at
Poker Runs West 916-652-7022 for specific event