Boyne Thunder at Sweet 16

The Stroll the Streets event is on par with the Desert Storm Street Party in terms of traffic and pure enthusiasm for high performance boats.

Nick Petersen and I just returned from the 16th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run, July 12-13. Nick is our Propeller Specialist and Project Manager. What a spectacular experience on every level!

People were very impressed with the cut away 450R display engine.

The event has grown to be one of the most popular poker runs in the country. Boat count has grown from 85 in 2010 to 120 this year. Activities began Friday, July 12 with the annual Boyne Thunder Stroll the Streets event. Our Mercury Racing Experience truck was front and center at the intersection of Main and Lake Street.  The weather was just perfect. People traffic through the truck was non-stop throughout the evening.  The all-new 450R outboard was the star of the show. The Cold Fusion White Rear Tie-Bar cat model and a cut-a-way display of the same model in Phantom Black were leading topics of conversation and backdrops for social media selfie pics.

Traffic was non-stop at the Mercury Racing merchandise tent.

The most common question was “how much.” When we responded that MSRP ranges from $53K-$64K, depending on the model, the common response was, “that’s what we thought.” Warranty and fuel requirements were also a hot topic. Consumers and boat builder partners were pleased to learn the 450R runs on 89-octane fuel and is backed by a three-year factory warranty, with up to five years of Mercury Product Protection available.

Sterndrive enthusiasts were equally in awe with the Dual Calibration 1350/1100 display engine.

Stu did an outstanding job of driving throughout the event. It was great to see he and his family relax and enjoy all of the beauty Michigan has to offer.

Nick and I got to participate in the poker run on Saturday with Florida Powerboat Club founder Stu Jones and his family in Project 1080, Stu’s Resto Mod Cigarette 38 Top Gun powered by twin Mercury Racing 540 sterndrives. This was a special treat: It was Nick’s first visit to Boyne, and my first time to do the entire run.  We were in the first flight of boats; It was exhilarating to come on plane with a number of like-size performance boats as we progressed down Lake Charlevoix toward Lake Michigan.

Stu’s son Max collects a card on one of the five stops on the 145-mile run.

The 145-mile run includes card stops in Northport, Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs and Bay Harbor, and a lunch stop in downtown Charlevoix.  Lake Michigan served up two to four-foot seas – quite forgiving considering what she is capable of producing.

It was great to see so many of our industry friends supporting the event onsite. Speed on the Water’s Pete Boden was behind the lens, photographing all of the action from a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. Nor-Tech sales rep Terry Sobo made the trip with a new boat in tow for delivery to an ecstatic customer. American Custom Marine owner and Mercury Racing dealer Mike Knoblock represented us well with the Racing Experience Truck parked in front of his customer-appreciation event Thursday evening, with Racing banners visible for all to see.

Mike Knoblock received this stunning Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console just in time for the run. It was the only 450R powered boat in the event.

Mike capped the event by splashing an all-new Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console with triple 450Rs. The new owner ran with Mike on the 390’s maiden voyage over the Pure Michigan waters. “I can tell it’s fast, Stu said, “that thing passed us like we were standing still.”

It’s always great to hang out with Speedboat Magazine’s Ray Lee and Todd Taylor.  Michigan based Skater rep Tony Cutsuries was impressed with seeing the 450Rs in person for the first time.

Rick Bowling in his QC4 1350 powered Gone Again Talon catamaran. Rick was very impressed with the event.

It was nice catching up with  Dan Kleitz of Outerlimits; he’s eternally  pleasant and upbeat.  Doc Jansen is living the Racing brand – running Wide Open as much as possible in his Dual Calibration 1550/1350 powered Outerlimits. It was fun to see former- offshore-racer-turned-poker-run-enthusiast Rick Bowling and his 1350-powered Gone Again Talon catamaran. It was Rick’s and Ray Lee’s first Boyne Thunder experience, and both were impressed.

Doc Jansen having some fun with an Outerlimits catamaran as they spool up for a run to the next card stop.

The three major benefactors of Boyne Thunder are the Main Street program, Camp Quality, and Challenge Mountain.

The Main Street program’s mission focuses on maintaining a vibrant downtown while preserving its historical heritage and supporting sustainable projects.  Some of the projects that people enjoy are Stroll the Streets on Friday nights, the Farmer’s Market every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the year, a pedestrian and bicycle friendly downtown, and façade improvement grants for local businesses.

Project 1080 at rest during the lunch stop in the picturesque city of Charlevoix.

Since it began, Boyne Thunder has raised more than $500,000 for Camp Quality, a nonprofit organization that provides special experiences and support for children with cancer.

Jackie Jones and the Project 1080 Mascot, Bandit.

Challenge Mountain is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching and improving lives for the mentally and physically challenged through outdoor recreation. All donated dollars to Challenge Mountain go directly to support winter and summer programs including skiing, biking, canoeing, kayaking and sailing.

“What makes Boyne Thunder special is the number of volunteers that pitch in to make the event run smoothly. Most all of the volunteers have a connection to one of the benefactor organizations but come together to work on the event and promote the event’s mission, not their own.  Each of our committee members handle various components of the event and work with those volunteers in their areas and with great communication, we have found this business model works for us,” said event organizer and Boyne Thunder Board Chairmen Bob Alger.

Nick and Tyler Jones pose for the camera as we prepare to enter Lake Michigan for a run to the first card stop.

Mercury Racing is honored to be associated with events such as this, where the entire poker run event staff is voluntary. No egos. No hidden agendas. Just a community event focused on promoting the sport we love which in turn supports a great cause.

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