Boyne Thunder and the Art of Boat Jumping
For the sake of complete transparency, I confess that I jumped on board at the last minute for the Boyne Thunder Poker Race in northern Michigan. I had planned to enjoy the day, as immaculate as the previous one, with US Custom Navy owner Michael Knoblock, Nor-Tech High Performance Boats dealership manager Geoff Tomlinson and other lucky guests aboard the first Nor-Tech 460 Flyer with an open bow.
After being canceled in 2020 and modified in 2021, the Boyne Thunder Poker Run has returned to northern Michigan with a vengeance. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Take 2 sensational photos.
The problem was time. Specifically, I was looking forward to my flight from Traverse City to Dallas followed by a flight to Sacramento, CA, which is about an hour’s drive from my home.
So with Tomlinson giving me appropriate grief, I begged and took a ride with Ron Szolack and his friends in his cigarette racing team 42 Reserve GTO center console.
American Custom Marine’s Michael Knoblock had extra passenger space—thanks to the author’s plan change—in the Nor-Tech 460 Flyer Open Bow.
Szolack has planned a abbreviated race of its own with a return to Boyne City Marina after lunch in Bay Harbor. And by short, I mean running the 42ft to the blue water just beyond the channel between Round Lake and Lake Michigan, idling to watch the fleet of over 100 boats heading south to her first two map stops, then spinning her high in Bay Harbor to eat.
Plans change, of course, and navigation plans are among the smoothest. As a guest aboard any boat, you are bound to shut up and go with the flow. Or find another route.
Ron Szolack and company watched the poker fleet head south from his 42-foot Cigarette center console, and headed to Bay Harbor for lunch.
I did as soon as Szolack mentioned it, leaving Bay Harbor we would be “stopped” by a raft on Lake Charlevoix. To the rescue came Scott Kottmann—the Wozencraft Insurance Agency representative serving the Lake of the Ozarks area in central Missouri – and his father, Greg, both freshmen at Boyne Thunder in their new MTI 390X catamarans. Devin Wozencraft, who was riding with the Kottmanns for the weekend, had them swing by the raft to get me.
Soon I was in my rental car, taking the speed limits as quaint suggestions and heading for the airport.
Anecdotally, those who actually completed the entire 150-mile Boyne Thunder Poker Run enjoyed the Glass of Lake Michigan before lunch on the Southbound Leg and the Lake Michigan White Chop after lunch on the leg in a northerly direction. Air temperatures hovered in the low 80s for much of the day. The only incident occurred near the end of the race when a 36 foot Skater Motor Boats catamaran caught fire. No one was injured but the cat was largely destroyed. (No additional details were available when this story went live.)
Devin Wozencraft, a high performance marine belayer, was on view with Scott and Greg Kottmann in their new MTI 390X catamaran.
Did I mention the fleet is absolutely crazy with people like the famous Tom Cat The 46-foot Skater catamaran and the ever-stunning Rocket Skater 438, not to mention a slew of MTI catamarans – sterndrives and outboards – and center consoles in the mix? Or that new constructions like that of Jeremy Tschida which has just been delivered Outerlimits Offshore Motorboats Catamaran SC 37 mixed with well known offerings such as Donnie and Cara MacLeod’s Team Must Go IV sportboat, a formidable 52-foot V-bottom from the Bristol, RI company?
Or that the industry guys in attendance this weekend across the country included Mike Livorsi from Navy of LivornoRandy, Cherell and Taylor Scism of MTI, Lisa Scola and Kevin Skiba of mercury raceDan Kleitz of Outerlimits, Kyle Miller of Sunsation Motor Boats and more were there?
Representing Mystical motorboatsBob Barnhart even brought his M4200 center console from Canada to be there.
But Boyne Thunder’s real purpose isn’t to see and be seen, it’s to raise money for two outstanding local charities, Camp Quality and Challenge Mountain, for children. Although the total raised at last night’s live charity auction for non-profit programs is not final, a Speed On The Water shot-ski created by Design by Stephen Miles brought in $11,500 and a Peacock Family Vineyard The Napa Valley Wine Experience offered by the winery in conjunction with speedonthewater.com brought in $6,500. Two good starts, certainly.
No one was injured in the fire aboard this 36ft Skater catamaran, but the boat was heavily damaged.
“I don’t have a definitive number, but with donations from 50/50 decks and poker hands, we’re in the neighborhood of $140,000,” said Boyne Thunder Poker Run event coordinator Ingrid Day. “What a day. What a race.
“And I’m so sorry for the boat that was lost,” she added in reference to the Skater catamaran fire.
For Day, it was her second year at the event’s lead organizer — and the first where pandemic protocols and restrictions haven’t weighed heavily on planning since taking over from the longtime president. date Boyne Thunder organizing committee Bob Alger after the 2019 event.
When it comes to high performance powerboat hardware, Boyne Thunder never fails to attract some of the best.
“In 2020, the year of deep COVID, no events,” Day said. “Last year and this year we both had emergency supplies and equipment if we had COVID issues, although it wasn’t as important as last year when we expanded the tent to allow each party to have its own table. But we thought about it.
As for Tomlinson from Nor-Tech, he seemed to forgive me and forget about me during the day. Boyne Thunder had bewitched him and that was all that mattered.
Powered by Mercury Racing outboard motors, the Tahoe and Avalon pontoon brands had excellent representation in the race.
“It’s such a fantastic event, and the locals, volunteers and attendees know how to organize,” said Tomlinson. “I appreciate that this is a non-profit event to benefit fantastic charities, as Nor-Tech is committed to being involved with charities.
“The place is also unique,” he added. “Next year is Boyne Thunder’s 20th anniversary. I hope Nor-Tech and American Custom Marine can come up with something special, because Boyne Thunder is always on my radar.
Tomlinson is a newcomer to Boyne Thunder – this was his second outing. But Szolack is a veteran. Either way, this year’s three-day event impressed him.
“I think it’s the greatest of all time and I’ve been coming here for over 15 years,” he said. “That’s definitely the most people I’ve seen here. Such a beautiful landscape with houses by the water – it’s a great event, like no other in the country.
I couldn’t agree more. I just wish we could have stayed longer, preferably on a boat.
During the Boyne Thunder Poker Run, the channel leading from Lake Charlevoix to Round Lake becomes a spectacular parade of catamarans, V-bottoms and center consoles from across the country.
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