The 2017 Desert Storm Poker Run brought with it huge crowds, great weather, not so great weather, amazing new boats, some old favorites, a few challenges, and of course parties that will go down in history! From the first lunch run to last call at the after party, this year's Desert Storm delivered. Yes, its true that we didn't get to watch the big dogs of the sport throw down at the shootout due to weather, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't have more than their share of fun over the weekend. Here's how it all went down this year on the "fastest lake in the west"!


Tuesday kicked off the festivities with the lunch run up to Pirate Cove, a low key event which has become tradition with many who make a point of getting into town a little early to get in some great boating before the crowds arrive. With most folks still at work or en route to Havasu, the trip up river is a fun one with little traffic and lots of great beach parking at the Cove.



On Wednesday one of the best events of Desert Storm takes place just in front of the notorious Kokomo bar and pool at the the London Bridge Resort. Krusin for Kids is the name of this awesome event and putting smiles on the faces of many of Havasu's special needs community is the goal. Organized by Teague Custom Marine and Lake Racer this event has become a must attend for many boaters who all agree that the excitement and enthusiasm displayed by the kids is what brings them back year after year. Our hats are off to Cherilyn and the rest of the Teague family as well as Jim and the good people at Lake Racer for always making this event a priority!






Wednesday night fans and participants alike are treated to first rate kick off party complete with open bar, catered dinner, a silent auction, and enough big money hardware on display to get anyone pumped up for the week ahead. Proceeds from the Silent Auction go to benefit New Horizons and Mile Marker which are the organizations who work tirelessly to improve the lives of the special needs kids who enjoyed the boat rides earlier in the day.




The Desert Storm Street Party rolled into town on Thursday and brought with it temperatures soaring into triple digits. This years street party saw lots of new boats from MTI and Outerlimits, lots of great vendors, and of course RDP brought the noise with our huge merchandise tent, displays by Kicker and Wired For Sound, plus the Boom Bandits sound stage and Matt Ferris playing live! While the high temperatures seemed to keep the crowds to a minimum earlier the day, they couldn't hold them back forever and by late afternoon the street was packed shoulder to shoulder all the way to the top of the hill.






Poker runners were greeted with clear skies, very little wind, and warm temps on Friday which made for a great day for everyone on the lake. The poker run started with the traditional parade through the channel with spectators lining the banks for a chance to view their favorite boats as they motored past on their way to the start boat which awaited them in front of Windsor beach. Waves of 5 boats at a time were released according to speed classification in order to avoid a dangerous situations with too many boats of varying speed all racing toward card stop one. While there were a couple of instances of close passes which have been met with much controversy all over the internet and social media, for the most part the poker run was a success with no injuries. The event promoters had helicopters on hand with photo and video crews aboard to document the event and even offered a special individual photo shoot later in the day for those who wanted to get a few nice running shots of them and their friends. Amazing weather and no major mishaps made for a great poker run indeed! After the poker run we met out on the point at Nautical with our lucky helicopter contest winners and got them set up with their rides. It was great meeting these folks and welcoming them to the RDP family!













As the poker run winds down and the evenings plans are made there is always one secret (sort of) gem of a party that emerges. It is known simply as the party as Dave's. Each year it seems to gain more momentum and this year it hit terminal velocity! RD cleared his garage, set up Safeglow Whips at all corners of his property and brought in Boom Bandits to DJ in his driveway complete with smoke machines and laser lights. Once the party got rolling it was clear that there was no slowing it down and even the police were surprised when they rolled into the driveway. Havasu's finest are well aware of what Dave's parties consist of and while they did recommend keeping it to a dull roar, they allowed the festivities to continue well into the evening. Many a cocktail were consumed and many memories were made (and a few were lost), and the party will be remembered as one of the greats!





A key event every year at Desert Storm is the Saturday Shootout held in front of the historic Site 6 where some of the fastest boats in the world do battle for bragging rights to see who is the King (or Queen) of the Desert. The unpredictable desert wind had other plans this year and with 30-40 mph gusting winds it was decided that the Shootout would be postponed until Sunday. Sadly, Sunday proved to be more of the same and after discussion with many of the Shootout participants the promoters erred on the side of caution and decided to cancel the event all together to avoid putting anyone in harms way. While the Shootout was cancelled and the lake was blown out, that didn't stop boaters from setting up shop in the London Bridge Channel and making the most of the day. All day Saturday there wasn't a single piece of beach that wasn't occupied by boats with big stereos and full coolers!



Once the sun began to dip behind the mountains on Saturday evening folks turned their attention to the Grand Finale of Desert Storm weekend. I'm speaking of course of the annual RDP Desert Storm After Party! The RDP After Party is the culmination of an amazing week in boating and is anticipated every year by some of the biggest names in west coast boating and of course by the RDP inmates themselves. This year's party was one for the books as anyone in attendance will attest. Great music, cocktails, and company are what make a great party and the after party had all of these in spades! If you missed it this year you missed a great time, but don't worry it will be back next year even bigger!




2017 marked yet another successful and eventful Desert Storm. While all didn't go perfectly and the weather once again had plans of her own, it can't be said that those in attendance didn't have a great time. Sure there are always growing pains as an event grows and evolves, but at the center of an event like Desert Storm its important to recall just what the event is all about in the first place. Desert Storm is about brushing off the winter blues, prepping your boat, and kicking off the boating season with all of your friends. It's about raising money for a worthy cause and giving back in any way you can. Fast boats come and go, events will change and evolve, some folks will move on and enthusiastic new ones will fill their shoes, but at the end of the day Desert Storm is still about coming together as a community to celebrate the sport we all love. So, as the boating season moves on lets all take a second and remember how fortunate we all are to be able to participate in an event like this one. While it may not always be what we think it should be, it will always be what we make of it!

See you all on the water!

Tom Leigh (PinkTaco)

Photos by: Tom Leigh (Tommy Gun Images), Mike Smith, and Boom Bandits