For the river rats who lay claim to both the New York and Canadian sides of the St. Lawrence River, the dedicated performance boaters from the area who knew what they wanted out of another event and the townsfolk who greeted the poker run participants with open arms, the sold-out inaugural 1000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton, N.Y., was an all-out success.
In terms of scenery, boating destinations don't get much better than the 1000 Islands. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Considering that the volunteer team behind the event had little-to-no experience hosting a poker run, from an outsider’s perspective the charitable event that included high-performance catamarans such as the 52-foot turbine-powered MTI Aqua-Mania and many 40-plus-foot V-bottoms from the likes of Fountain, Nor-Tech and Outerlimits came together smoothly.
Were there speed bumps along the way? Of course, but there always are when it comes to producing an event with 70 boats in attendance, especially in a small town that is not used to hosting a performance boat showcase like the event turned out to be. The inopportune high water level of the river didn’t help the situation; nor did not being able to finalize the route until a couple of days before the run because of uncertainties about which places could host the fleet and what areas would be idle-only zones. That said, the participants didn’t see any of that as unprepared.
“I think these guys put together an unbelievable first-time event for charity,” said Rich Szesnat, who brought Poor Dirt Farmer, his Outerlimits SV 50, to Clayton for the run. “They did an awesome job and everyone around here made us feel welcome. We’ll definitely come back. The hotel and the venue were great. This is a different type of atmosphere—the stuff you see up here is totally different than anywhere else.”