Boyne City’s 10th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run 2013 blasts into high-speed boating action July 12-13, when more than 80 high performance boats will roar through Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan.

After showcasing their boats Friday, July 12 during an expanded version of Boyne City’s downtown “Stroll the Streets” event, Boyne Thunder 2013 boaters embark on the 150-mile trek Saturday morning, July 13. They pick up five playing cards at stops in Northport, Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Horton Bay. Boyne Thunder 2013 participants then use their cards in a poker game to compete for prize money at the end of the night.

“It’s definitely not a race,” said Michael Knoblock, a ninth-year Boyne Thunder 2013 participant from St. Clair, Mich., who will drive “Liquid Thunder,” a 47-foot Fountain boat. “It’s a poker run, so you could be the slowest boat and still win.”

Although most Boyne Thunder 2013 boats will cruise at 95-110 mph when they reach Lake Michigan, some of them are capable of slicing through the water at more than 220 mph, said Hunter Coe, a Boyne Thunder boater from Rochester, Mich., and captain of “NAS-T,” a 39-foot express catamaran with twin 1,325-horsepower engines.

Boyne Thunder 2013 boating entries have nearly doubled since 2011, when 42 boats registered for the poker run. All proceeds from the boating event will benefit the Boyne City Main Street Program, which helps revitalize the Boyne City downtown area, and two Boyne City-based non-profits: Camp Quality Michigan, a camping program for children with cancer, and Challenge Mountain, a first-time Boyne Thunder beneficiary that provides outdoor recreational programming for people with disabilities.

“It’s become such an event for the community,” said Hugh Conklin, Boyne Thunder 2013 Committee chairman and program manager for the Boyne City Main Street Program. “It’s a volunteer-run event, and you can just feel that people have been happy with that.”

Boyne Thunder has raised nearly $100,000 for the Boyne City Main Street Program and more than $220,000 for Camp Quality Michigan over the past 10 years, Conklin said.

Camp Quality Michigan will receive 100 percent of proceeds from the Champagne Cruise, a raft-off of 10 local yachts where more than 125 guests wait for Boyne Thunder 2013 boaters at their last card stop in Horton Bay, said Kristyn Balog, executive director of Camp Quality Michigan.

“It’s been something we’ve done for the whole famly,” Coe, the Boyne Thunder 2013 driver, said. “Everybody’s just there to be safe and have fun.”

—By Catie L’Heureux

Photo(s) by Rick Wolanin