Gaspee Point resident Charlie McCarthy knew exactly what he was looking at when he picked up Tuesday’s Beacon and spotted the photo of an ocean racing boat and a helicopter. He even identified the “throttle man” of the 52-foot Outerlimits leading the fleet.
After all, McCarthy, who first started racing boats in 1958, knows fast boats. He knew about 30 Outertlimits boats, which are built in Bristol, would be making a run by Warwick Saturday morning.
Neither the Coast Guard nor the harbormaster knew the sponsor of last Saturday’s run or where the boats had come from or were going.
Contrary to the assumption that the boats were in some kind of race, McCarthy explained they were on a “poker run” that took them to five different stops on the bay. At each of the stops, they were handed a playing card. At the end of the run, the hands from each of the participants are played and a winner is announced, McCarthy explained.
Usually a portion of the entry fee – which he said is customarily about $500 plus $100 per person – goes to the winner, with the rest of the pot benefiting a charity.
McCarthy said Saturday’s run was restricted to Outerlimits boats.
McCarthy didn’t have details on Saturday’s run, but in a post to the online Outerlimits Factory Run, one of the participants logged 80 miles over 3.5 hours for an average speed of 23.2 mph.
That’s barely moving for the fastest Outerlimits boat, the 52-footer powered by turbines with a speed of 245 mph, according to McCarthy.
As for who was in the lead this past Saturday, McCarthy identified him as Steve Curtis, an eight-time offshore powerboat racing World Champion from Great Britain.
Recalling his own boat racing days, McCarthy said his first was in a 14-foot plywood boat powered by a 35-horse power Johnson Outboard. He carried along two six-gallon tanks of gas for the 84-mile course. When McCarthy finished second in his class, he figured there might be a future in powerboat racing.
Not only was he winning races, but he also started the Banana Boat Company, which his oldest son, Charlie III, continues to run today out of Florida.
For those who missed the excitement last Saturday, McCarthy pointed out that Borden Light Marina in Fall River is sponsoring a poker run, which is not limited to Outerlimits, the weekend of Aug. 23-25 for the benefit of Make A Wish. The run is Saturday, Aug. 24, with Warwick Cove Marina as the stop for gas fill ups. The run starts at Fall River and has its first stop in East Providence, followed by Newport, Warwick Cove, Bristol and back to the Borden Light Marina for a pig roast. The event fee is $400. To be eligible, participating boats must have a center console and a minimum maximum speed of 50 mph.
And why would a helicopter be following the run last Saturday?
McCarthy had a one word response – “Ego.”
He imagined those with Outerlimits boats, ranging in price from $400,000 to $1.5 million, would love to buy pictures of their day on Narragansett Bay.