August 2006

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Time For The Family On Lake Havasu

By Larry ‘Uncle Larry’ Reese

"Regatta" – as defined by the dictionary — usually uses the word "sailboat" and/or race. However, a regatta as produced by Jokers Wild on Lake Havasu is best defined as a weekend of Family Fun!

Nearly every non-holiday weekend from May to November, Lake Havasu is home to a regatta for one of the high-performance custom-boat manufacturers located in the Southwest.

Eliminator Boats of Southern California starts the regatta season the first weekend it May; this past May was the 22nd annual regatta for this boat manufacturer, while Howard Customs Boats has just concluded their second-ever regatta the weekend of July 7.

A Jokers Wild-produced regatta is for the family, from the Friday night hospitality party where the highlight is the Hot Wheels Race, to the Saturday night banquet where the naming of a princess and prince gets everyone cheering.

Friday night is check-in time as boaters from all over the Southwest (and every once in a while someone will make the long drive from as far away as Minnesota or Florida) gather to collect their goody bag, event guide, and simply to hang out with others who have purchased their boat from the same manufacturer.

These regattas are sponsored by the boat manufacturer, so, for example, at the Cheetah event, only those who own Cheetahs are eligible to attend. Jokers Wild produces events for Eliminator, Conquest by Group One Marine, HTM, DCB, Cheetah, Commander, Ultra, Howard, Shockwave, Nordic, Dana, Playcraft, Advantage, Newport Boats, Moomba/Supra, and Schiada, along with a special Invitational Poker Run for Absolute Speed and Marine.

Friday is the traditional Hot Wheels Race, and other events such as visiting the few vendor booths or getting an air-brush tattoo keep guests entertained.

Saturday is a day on Lake Havasu! It all starts with an early morning drivers/safety meeting; general boating rules are covered, specific rules for Lake Havasu are discussed, and the day’s activities are reviewed as well as questions answered.

Then, everyone heads out to a cove to tie up next to the Kokomo Budweiser Tru-Music Boat; once everyone is securely tied up to another boat, the helicopter arrives to take photos of the group from the air, with everyone screaming and waving.

Photos taken during this portion of the event as well as the running shots are shown during the Saturday banquet. The Poker Run at Jokers Wild events are also designed for the family.

Regatta attendees can go to any of the five stops on the lake at their own pace. These stops are manned from noon to 3 p.m. so each boater can enjoy the lake as they boat from one end of the Lake Havasu to the other.

After an entire day on the lake, attendees get ready for the Saturday Night Banquet with a raffle and awards presentation. The naming of a young girl and boy as the regatta’s royal court, the princess and prince get the group smiling and cheering as the proud parents snap photos the of two in their tiara and crown.

Each attendee must wear a wrist band throughout the event – to be identified as an official attendee. Also on the wrist band is a number that’s the participant’s raffle ticket for the evening.

Everything from boat-cleaning products, to iPods, to bicycles for the kids, to logo-adorned clothing is given away during the raffle. Winners of the Poker Run are announced, and at many events, the owner of the boat company will get up on stage and thank everyone for coming — cheers ring the loudest when the owner asks if the crowd wants to do it again the next year.

All in all, it’s a weekend of family fun on Lake Havasu. Over the past few years, Jokers Wild has averaged around 1,500 boating families with over 8,000 people attending a season of regattas.