Desert Storm’s New Shootout Course

desertstorm_shootoutcourseThe Shootout portion of the Desert Storm Poker Run will offer a new course this April.

With the Desert Storm Poker Run on Arizona’s picturesque Lake Havasu about three months away (April 25-28), Jim Nichols—event co-founder and organizer—has been working diligently on the one area that seems to consume most of his efforts, the Desert Storm Shootout.

Having organized the poker run since 1999, Nichols is extremely familiar with every aspect of what it takes to ensure the event is a success. In fact, some say the grandiose event appears to operate as fluid as the Colorado River itself.

Over the years, Nichols has seen the boat speeds climb steadily. Feeling the need to supply an arena where participants could legitimately claim “King of the Desert” and display their top-speed numbers in a spectator-friendly, controlled environment, he dreamed of bringing a top-speed shootout to the event. In 2008, he was able to realize that dream with the assistance of Jeff Dorhauer, one of the organizers behind the infamous Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.

As with most events, Desert Storm’s Shootout started small and has grown into a respectable event of its own. However, the location has left much to be desired, resulting in some complaints from participants and the ultimate cancellation of the 2011 event due to high winds.

The moment the 2011 poker run ended, Nichols began working on improving the Shootout course in an attempt to put to rest the issues that had plagued the event for four years. He began inspecting satellite images of the area in an effort to find the perfect location. Easy enough you would think, yet one glance at the area surrounding the event’s host hotel—the Nautical Beachfront Resort—quickly reveals the lack of ample room to safely operate powerboats at speeds approached (and at times exciding) the 200-mph mark. The 50-foot Mystic catamaran JBS Racing “unofficially” saw 206 mph in 2010. However, with much effort, Nichols believes he’s found the perfect area.

desertstorm_shootoutcourse2“We are changing the location for several reasons, mainly safety.” Nichols explained. “The Thompson Bay course has proved to be too rough toward the Copper Canyon end due to boat traffic that we have been unable to mitigate.”

The only answer Nichols could see to ensure safety and absolute control over the course was to propose its movement to the narrow portion of the lake positioned between the island on the Arizona side and the mainland of the California side.

“The new course will be easier to manage, including eliminating boat traffic along the California side closest to the course, as well as having a strictly enforced ‘no wake zone’ along the Arizona side,” he added.

Along with the advantage of limiting interference from spectator boats, the narrow portion of the lake is notorious for providing smooth water, shielded from the wind by the landmasses bordering it.

The new course will run east from the area commonly known as the Site 6 launch ramp and run to the eastern portion of the island known as Thompson Bay. Participant boats will enter the course at a constant speed of 40 mph, have a total of one mile to get up to speed and an additional mile to slow.

Spectators are welcome to view the event from the various bluffs on land or alcoves by boat as well as take in the awe-inspiring fleet of participant boats at the Site 6 wet pits.

“Talks with BLM (Bureau of Land Management), the U.S. Coast Guard and the City of Lake Havasu have been very productive and positive,” Nichols said. “We are very much looking forward to providing a top-shelf event that will be enjoyed by spectators and participants alike.”

To enlist for the 2012 Desert Storm Shootout, or any of the other high-octane events, visit