On Scene: Big Cat Poker Run Pulls 74 Boats

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Fresh off Carl and Betty Zanger’s immaculate 2003 Cigarette Racing 38 Top Gun with twin Mercury Racing HP700SCi engines, I’m settling in at our Stockton, Calif., lunch stop to file a quick report on today’s Big Cat Poker Run on the Sacramento River Delta. While the annual event has pulled as many as 120 high-performance powerboats in its 13-year history, today’s 74-boat fleet is at least 20 boats stronger than last year’s field. And the hardware, which includes a bevy of Dave’s Custom BoatsSkater and Marine Technology Inc., catamarans and V-bottoms from OuterlimitsHustler and—of course—Cigarette Racing Team is as good as it gets.

Today’s fleet on the Sacramento River Delta, the strongest in years for this event, provides further evidence that regional poker runs are booming. Next to Desert Storm Poker Run on Lake Havasu in Arizona, the Big Cat is the largest poker run on the West Coast. And from a morning on the water with the Zangers and their guests Steven and Donna Gould, it’s easy to see why.

“People in the Delta know how to boat,” said Bob Teague of title sponsor Teague Custom Marine at the Pittsburg Yacht Club and Marina stop this morning. “We’re out here with everything from ships to personal watercraft and there are 1,500 miles of freshwater waterways. It’s just a class of people who know about boating, have nice equipment and know how to get along on the waterways. Probably 50 percent of the people here have homes in Discovery Bay. The water is fantastic, the crowd is amazing and we have the kind camaraderie people would die for.”

From here the run heads back to its starting point at the Discovery Bay Marina, where participants will receive their cards. The post-run celebration, awards ceremony and dinner kicks off—complete with live music—at 4:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: Look for additional reporting on the Big Cat Poker Run on speedonthewater.com, as well as in the September/October issue of Speed On The Water magazine.

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