2nd Annual CAN/AM Poker Run gets underway at Bondar Marina

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Bill Taylor's 'Bad Company' comes into dock at The Bondar Marina - Poker Run media event - August 3,2017. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Some of the most spectacular performance boats in North America are charting a course for Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, to participate in the second annual Poker Runs America Sault Ste. Marie Can/Am Poker Run, in support of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Last year, the event raised more than $10,000. for the regional charity.

A Poker Run is not a race, it is a display of the most advanced performance boating technology, where participants follow a charted route, picking up a sealed envelope containing one playing card at each of five card stops. At the end of the event, the judges open the envelopes, and the boater with the best poker hand wins.

“In our introductory year, the participants were overwhelmed with the magnificent scenery, the pristine waters, and the incredible hospitality”, said Bill Taylor, organizer of the event and President of Poker Runs Inc., “And this year we are preparing for a record number of participants and spectators as we continue to grow this event.”

Many of the fastest and most exciting boats on the water will be participating in this event, including:

Bill Tomlinson’s “My Way” the world’s fastest 50-foot Mystic Catamaran powered by twin 3,000 hp Lycoming T-55 Turbine engines. This boat, throttled by Bill Tomlinson and driven by Ken Kehoe set the World Speed Record in 2013 at 224 miles per hour!

Pat Higgins from Terrebonne, Quebec, will bring his “Go Fast” boat – a 43-foot Outerlimits with enclosed canopy, to the event.

Steve Gordon, from Southfield, MI, will be on the water in his 46-foot Skater “Deal With It”. Steve has been participating in the Poker Run events since their inception. On board the Skater will be Mike D’Annibale from Sterling Performance, the manufacturer of the boat’s twin 1875 hp engines. “Deal With It” features new design surface-piercing Arneson outdrives – the very latest in high performance technology.

Brian and Wilma Ross, the husband and wife team who captured the Key West World Championship title, will bring their 38-foot Donzi “Learning the Ropes” to the event.

Poker Run event participants come from across North America. All are highly skilled performance boating enthusiasts, operating some of the most sophisticated boats on the water. These boats, many capable of speeds greater than 150 miles per hour, are the most spectacular examples of marine technology.

Bill Tomlinson’s My Way – a 50-foot Mystic Catamaran capable of speeds in excess of 220 mph.

Many of the Poker Run boats in this event are valued from $500,000 to $5 million.

“Safety is our #1 Priority,” says Bill Taylor, “we have been organizing Poker Run events for 30 years across North America, Europe, and the Caribbean, and safety has always been our #1 objective – to the extent that we have launched a custom-built 32’ Sunsation designed to carry paramedics, their safety gear, and the communications technology required to support the event.”

Poker Run media event – raindrops kept coming down at The Bondar Marina – Sault waterfront – August 3, 2017

This year, more than 30 volunteers from the Sault Ste. Marie area will crew a fleet of marshal boats, flag boats, and support vessels. A full contingent of marine law enforcement crews will be on the water, including RCMP, OPP, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard, Search and Rescue, Border Patrol, and, of course, the Sault Ste. Marie Police and Fire Departments.

The general public is encouraged to come down to the event to see the boats on display, meet the drivers, and participate in our “People’s Choice Awards”. Come down to see the street displays on Friday, and  the boats at the dock on Saturday, People’s Choice Awards.

The Safety Boat plays a vital role in the Poker Run happening August 4 – 6, 2017. Fans can watch the boats from several vantage points along the Sault waterfront – Richards Landing – Hilton and Thesslon.

The general public is invited to participate by voting in a range of special award categories – boats on display will be judged in the following categories: Best Graphics – Best Rig (boat, trailer, and tow vehicle) –  Best Audio and Best Engine Compartment

Ballots will be available for the general public in the display area – fill in a ballot and receive a FREE entry to win a “Ride of a Lifetime” on one of the boats on Sunday, August 6. Funds raised on Sunday’s power boat-rides are going to support Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

You can also cast a ballot on The Poker Run Facebook page,  pokerrunsamerica@facebook.com and at the website here: www.pokerrunsamerica.com

Friday August 4, 2017

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Poker Run boats will be arriving throughout the afternoon, with on-land displays on Foster Drive at the Roberta Bondar Pavillion.

Margaret and Bill Taylor – Power Boat enthusiasts for 28 years and counting. Together, they’ve travelled to some of the best power boat racing geographies in the world. Pictured here at the Bondar Marina. Aug.3, 2017.

Spectators are invited to tour the displays and chat with the boaters. Please note that Foster Drive will be closed to public vehicular traffic from St. Mary’s River Drive to the Roberta Bondar Pavilion.

Boat Launching –

Throughout the afternoon, the boats will proceed from the street display area to the launch ramps at Bellevue Marina on Pine Street. This is an excellent opportunity to see the rigs as each boat is launched.

5:00 – 7:00 pm – In-water audio demos for People’s Choice Awards.

7:00 pm – Official opening ceremony at the Roberta Bondar Pavillion.

7:30 pm – 9:30 pm – Enjoy a FREE concert featuring the Hustle Brothers live on stage at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion.

Follow the excitement from the shoreline, or on the water…

The course includes many areas where spectator boats can safely view the event – with FREE access, as directed by our marshal boats.

Ken Denardo – Official Poker Run Photographer and Marshall. Aug. 3,2017 – Bondar Marina.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

9:30 am – Poker Run begins with the National Anthems, followed by the thrilling “Gentlemen, start your engines” when tens of thousands of horsepower will throttle up to propel the boats to the starting line on the St. Mary’s River.

10:00 am – Parade of Power – see the boats leave the dock area enroute to the staging area for the 2 x 2 start.

10:30 am – Boats will start the course two by two at 30 second intervals.

Spectators are invited to watch the event from vantage points lining the shores, and boaters are invited to view the Poker Run from the water as part of the spectator fleet, which is carefully supervised by marshal boats crewed by area volunteers. There are several excellent viewing locations where you will be able to watch the open water high speed legs of the event.

11:15 am – Card Stop at Richard’s Landing

11:45 am – 1:30 pm – Lunch stop at Hilton Beach Marina – boats will be on display during the lunch break, followed by a thrilling start at 1:30 pm for the afternoon leg of the Poker Run.

2:00 pm – Card Stop at Thessalon

2:15 pm – Open water run around Serpent Island

2:45 pm – Card Stop on the water off Hilton Beach

4:00 pm – Return to Roberta Bondar Pavilion.

Michael Major; Tony Marcello, Customer Relations Manager – Gateway Casino and Entertainment;
Paula Morra (OLG Casino).

Sunday, August 6, 2017 – Power Boat Rides.

11:00 am – 2:00 pm – A limited number of opportunities are available to take a “Ride of a Lifetime” on one of the Poker Run boats, in support of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Rides are $150 per person.

Seating is limited for these 30-minute rides – please reserve your space in advance at the website –GO HERE

Major event sponsors include: Mercury Marine – MerCruiser; Snap-On Tools; The City of Sault Ste. Marie – Ontario; Sunsation Boats; Myco Trailers; Sandbanks Winery; HD Sports Grill; Hollywood Limosine; Superior Marine; Kennsington Point Marine; Northshore Sports & Auto; Gliss Steak & Seafood; Milne Transport;