I'm here to tell you that I have been to more boat regattas than any sane person rightly should. It's "part of the job" as they say. Generally speaking regattas are pretty similar when you go from one to the next, the only real variable is how much money they spend on things surrounding the "core" of the regatta itself. That could be on anything from a helicopter for photos, right down to the center pieces on the table. That said the "core" is always the same, and while they are a ton of fun, you pretty much always know what to expect.
Eliminator took a different approach to their 50th regatta this year and stepped completely out of the box. This was without a doubt the most fun regatta I have ever been to in my life, and it was so far outside of the norm that it actually raised the bar as to what a regatta could be.
Nobody was quite sure what to expect because they broke out of that cookie cutter mold, and didn't have a poker run, nor did they have a card turn in. They skipped pretty much all the normal elements that makes a boat regatta, well a boat regatta.
The entire concept of the weekend was getting the customers together to socialize with each other, as well as getting to know the staff. This started with a private party at Legendz friday night up on main street. Each participant was awarded a couple of wristbands that was good for food, a couple of cocktails, and a grab bag that was worth more than the price of entry (A value in and of itself).
The Friday night party was an incredible success and honestly couldn't have gone any better in any dynamic I can come up with. The place was packed, but not so overly packed that you couldn't move. The music was great, and they had their Eliminator tables setup not only handing out the grab bags, but selling additional Eliminator swag on site (which was a hit!)
After the Eliminator party closed at 10pm, almost if by design a large contingent of the group wandered down to the Flying X and continued to have a great time all night long. The memories or lack there of, is something that some will never forget, and others will never remember.
Saturday their plan was pretty simple, they wanted to take over Pirates cove! Now I'd like for you to picture for one second that a "large" boat regatta in modern times is usually 65-70 boats. Hallett's in Havasu put on by Mike Grimes (Hammer) was the largest regatta last year with 93 registered entrants.
Eliminator Boats had 150 boats registered for this event, and god knows how many that brought boats to the beach across from Pirates cove just to show support! For the official count though 150 boats is almost double what is considered a "big regatta" here on the West Coast. Jake Fraleigh said it best when he first took the reigns of the company "I almost forgot the power of the brand."
The majority Pirates cove marina (and beaches on both sides!) was filled with Eliminator Boats ranging from the early 70's all the way up to the latest 2019 Speedsters.
The vast majority of them were cats, and again almost all of them were in the triple digit category. It's pretty significant when you realize that there's boats from 25+ years ago that could put up those kind of numbers, and throughout the years they have never lost the drive to continue to push the envelopes of what is possible today.
The presentation of the whole regatta was absolutely phenomenal, everywhere you looked their was "something" Eliminator, whether that would be a banner to let you know the parking and Pirates cove as a whole was reserved for Eliminator, right down to a glass sculpture that was rotating on a bed of flowers celebrating the 50th. It was truly done first class, and my hats off to them for a job well done on that front.
The entire "vibe" of the regatta was laid back / good times. Even the awards ceremony and raffle (which are usually the two most boring parts of a regatta) turned into revelry. One thing that Eliminator did that I thought was incredibly smart was to not focus on the latest and greatest, or the newest and most expensive, but rather they handed out several awards for what they called the "Classics Cove." Several awards were given out for all sorts of things from "Best Restoration" to "Most Bling" and other fun categories. This turned something that's usually kind "slow and sleepy" into 500+ people cheering the winners on for each one. They kept the raffle prizes to an appropriate number so things never slowed down, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
I said it earlier, and I'll say it again Eliminator absolutely killed it, and it was an absolute pleasure to have attended it. If you have an Eliminator and you weren't there this year, you truly missed out on a pretty remarkable event. It's pretty few and far between that an event can capture that "magic" which makes it such a good time that you'll likely remember it for the rest of your life. They pulled that off last weekend.