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At the third annual Erie Poker Run, just making it back in one piece was a significant victory. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

While the Internet keyboard cowboys are still opining on how they would have handled the unruly three- to five-foot seas—with the odd six-footers and hellacious surprise holes in the water thrown in for good measure—better than those who actually did handle them in this year’s Erie Poker Run in Pennsylvania, here’s what those who participated, including one Apache driver with more than 2,000 hours of seat time in his 36-footer, know for sure: The water was vile and nasty.

Somewhere between 11 and 20—no one knows for sure—of the 29 boats that started the run completed the 45-mile trek to the lunch stop at Dunkirk Harbor. The rest either turned around at or before the first stop outside of Barcelona Harbor. No one even bothered to try to reach the third and fourth stops.

How rough was it? Mark and Karen Tindale had the third wave in a trio of six-footers—in a following sea no less—blast the acrylic wind faring of their Outerlimits SL 44 V-bottom. Roughly one third of the fleet returned to the docks at the Wolverine Park Marina behind Sheraton Bayfront Hotel, the event’s host venue, with some kind of damage. But aside from some blisters, soreness and sun/wind burn, the participants came back unscathed.

How fun was it? The party following the 116-person awards banquet spilled into the hotel bar—with two good-natured but clearly overwhelmed bartenders running flat out to meet the demand for libations—and continued into the early morning hours. It was more than a celebration of friends, many of whom had participated in the run for its first two years, which offered even worse water conditions. It was a celebration of survival.

To read the full feature, click the download link for the PDF of the May/June 2017 Speed On The Water magazine, and please share any feedback with us below, via email or on social media.