As seen online August, 16th 2022 Speed on the Water.
Written by Jason Johnson and Matt Trulio
With pre-registration right around 80 boats, the organizers behind this year’s Big Cat Poker Run in Northern California were excited to build upon the event’s 2021 rebirth of sorts following the pandemic and leadership changes. What they didn’t expect was for the participation numbers to exceed expectations, reaching 95 boats and increasing the estimated attendance from 250 people to more than 370 in total.
Not only did Bob and Andrea Teague of Teague Custom Marine donate their time and money to support the Big Cat Poker Run, they also participated in the event in their 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran Roving Gambler. Photos by Kris Wesenhagen/KKJ Media.
Of course, the increased participation was a positive thing for the charity, first and foremost, the Discovery Bay Lions Club. The club’s membership chairperson, Debbie Finnegan, who served as president for two years and is the primary organizer behind the poker run, said on Monday that she believes the event is going to surpass the $125,000 fundraising goal set following last year’s $100,000 mark, although final donation amounts and expenses are still being calculated.
The number of attendees also was positive for economic impact at the gas docks and the local establishments. Thanks to the expanded boat count, the parties also were a bit livelier and the sponsors appreciated seeing more people in town enjoying themselves. It was clear that the team behind title-sponsor Teague Custom Marine in Valencia, Calif., was thrilled by the support shown by the performance boat community and proud to be a founding sponsor of the event that started in 2000.
“There was a huge turnout this past weekend with boats from near and far,” said Teague Custom Marine’s Cherilyn Noack in a Facebook post. “Thanks to everyone who made the trip; the event would not be possible without you or without the generous support of our Big Cat sponsors. And thank you to all the Discovery Bay Lions Club and Discovery Bay Yacht Club volunteers who worked so hard behind the scenes. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.”
Both Finnegan and Noack agreed that the spectator involvement appeared to have increased as well. The only people who likely didn’t see the increased attendance as positive were the catering crews that had to scramble to increase meal counts at the lunches and dinners. Finnegan said all of those people stepped up as needed though.
“I can’t say enough for all of the volunteers and sponsors that stepped in to make sure everything went smooth,” Finnegan said. “Of course I have to thank Bob Teague and his family for what they give back to this community and to the Lions Club. I don’t think this event would be possible without their support. I need to give credit to Jamal Acito, the harbor master at Discovery Bay Marina, for doing such an excellent job handling all the launching and parking of trailers, boats, etc. Kris Wesenhagen of KKJ Media also provided a big boost for us this year as he took the lead with our social media and website redesign.”
Finnegan wanted to make sure that Jerry and his team at Sticky Chicken & Ribs got a shout-out for handling the additional food preparation for Saturday’s party at Discovery Bay Marina without hesitation. She added that Mountain Mike’s in Discovery Bay answered the call for more pizza for Friday’s welcome party as did Callahan’s with its breakfast burritos on Saturday morning and Windmill Cove with lunch on Saturday.
“I think that was the best Big Cat event that they’ve had in the last 10 years,” Wesenhagen said after capturing the event via boat, drone and helicopter. “The turnout of boats from DCB was unbelievable. I’ve never seen so many boats parked at Windmill Cove before in my life.”
A Big Cat Poker Run veteran, Steve Seaton of Seaton’s Marine in Discovery Bay said this year’s event had a particularly upbeat vibe.
“What I noticed about this run was that there was a lot of energy in it-people really came out to have a good time,” he said. “But everybody maintained a decent speed and the emphasis was safety. There were zero issues-and there was a fun party afterward.
“The Big Cat was a blast,” he added.
Roger Primm, a Nevada performance boater who owns a DCB M35 Widebody catamaran powered by Teague Custom Marine 1450EFI engines, also had a great time at the event that provides an excellent tour of the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta.
“The boat was spot-on all weekend,” Primm said. “There was a good turnout of DCBs. I enjoyed catching up with friends; seeing people like Mauricio and Angie Vivanco in their M44.”
Finnegan, who recently was voted “Citizen of the Year” by the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce, added a special thanks to the Vivancos for stepping up as the event’s diamond-level sponsor. The event’s platinum-level sponsors included Colledgewood and Labor Unlimited Inc. Finnegan also thanked the boat companies-DCB, Nordic Boats, Hallett Boats and Eliminator Boats-for their support and asked that any participants reach out to her with feedback on how to improve upon the event next year.