By Matt Trulio
The Big Picture: Charity in the Fast Lane
Sure, the go-fast powerboat world is loud in every way. It also gives from its heart, again and again.
In the 15 years I’ve been covering the high-performance powerboat scene, I’ve seen my weight—and then some—in gold jewelry from necklaces to pinky rings. I’ve met countless guys named Vinny and Joey and Tommy and Bobby and Nicky, most of them with a surname that ends in a vowel. And from people on the outside, I’ve heard every conceivable theory, most of them Freudian, about why anyone would even own a high-performance boat.
Guess what? I’d take the go-fast folks any day over the crusty, stodgy, blue-blood-and-blazer yachting or sailing crowds. OK, I don’t run with those crowds so I have no idea what they are actually like. They could be lovely. But hey, as long as we’re tossing around stereotypes, we might as well dish them out them evenly across the boating spectrum.
There are two things I love about the people in the high-performance boating community. First, they’re real. Sure, you’ll find the occasional pretentious or arrogant jerk, but for the most part what you see is what you get with these people. Second, perhaps because so many of their fortunes have been self-made, they realize how truly fortunate they are. And in recognition and appreciation of that good fortune, they often get heavily involved in group-fundraising activities for charity.
Take the Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Club. January isn’t exactly the peak of the 400-member club’s season, but the club is still putting on an event called Plungapalooza on Jan. 30. 50-something adults who lack common sense will plunge into the near-frozen Chesapeake Bay to raise money for the Special Olympics.
But charity doesn’t end when the go-fast boating season begins. On July 17, the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club will hold its annual Shore Dreams for Kids event, which last year provided more than 600 boats rides for mentally and physically challenged children and adults.
Then there’s the Platinum Powerboat Club, which was founded by Joy Schou for performance-boat owners who, says Schou, “want to do something for someone else with their money and their passion.” All of this club’s two-day, “Puttin’ On the Wish” events—wherever they are—include boat rides for special needs children on Friday, a fundraising auction on Friday night and a poker run on Saturday. Proceeds from the auction and poker run go to the local charity of the club’s choice.
Think high-performance boat builders stay on the sidelines? No way. In November 2009, Terry Sobo, the sales and marketing director of Nor-Tech Performance Boats in Cape Coral, Fla., allowed himself to be “locked up” until he could raise bail for his local chapter of the National Muscular Dystrophy Association. Sobo raised more than $20,000—not bad for an afternoon behind bars. (OK, so the jail was a local café.)
Want more? In 2008, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats founder Mike Fiore—a friend of mine who in the 12 years I’ve known him still hasn’t had time to set up his voice mail—spent all day giving boats rides at Shore Dreams for Kids. The list goes on and on.
Of course the pursuit of speed tops the priority list for most performance boat owners. But when it comes to raising money for charity, they go just as hard—and they go year-round.
Behind all those gold chains, there are more than a few golden hearts.
Editor’s Note: Boats.com bi-weekly columnist Matt Trulio is the editor at large for Powerboat magazine. He has written for the magazine since 1994. Trulio also founded speedonthewater.com, a web site dedicated to covering the high-performance powerboat world, where he blogs daily.
- Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.
- Connect with Matt Trulio on Google+
Tags: charity, Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association, high-performance, Johnson, Mike Fiore, New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club, Nor-Tech Performance Boats, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, Platinum Powerboat Club, Plungapalooza, powerboats, Special Olympics, Terry Sobo