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
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.