Thanksgiving Poker Run at (where else) Bird Island!

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The pre-event huddle and negotiations! (credit: Yseult Marc)

By Manny Convert

November 25-26, 2016
Bird Island, North Padre, Texas
1st annual Bird Island windsurfing poker run and free racing

I got a phone call from Tarek Tico down in Corpus Christi in late October. Tarek wanted to throw a race over the Thanksgiving weekend at Bird Island. I suggested that due to the short notice, a fun event/gathering might be better suited, and I proposed a poker run – and possibly run some informal races as well, and a Q&A session. The nice thing about poker runs is that it does not matter if you’re the fastest or the slowest, as you get random cards at pre-determined pick-up stops on the course! The event was a go.

Black Friday. The weather was sunny and clear, around 70 degrees, with winds between 10-15 knots. The Q&A session on Friday was about foiling. There were a lot of questions and I tried to answer them all, and there was plenty of hovering around my LP foil! A lot of sailors have never seen a foil before. After the Q&A, the poker run was explained and the rules were established. The goal was to get a set of four cards with the best hand overall at two pre-arranged pick-up points. The three major oddball rules were: 1) don’t hit Manny’s gear or knock his beer off his board (automatic disqualification); 2) don’t crash at the buoy where Manny is waiting in the water to hand your card; and 3) the third rule was that the joker card was, well, a surprise.

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Waiting in line on Black Friday! (credit: Yseult Marc)

Once the major rules were established, a few sailors started bets with greenbacks… The race committee knew nothing about this :p The fleet started well and at the outside mark, where I was standing in the water, it looked like a garage sale of windsurfing gear in the water as everybody was picking their cards up. One of the sailors even attempted to steal my beer! Even though we made clear to everyone that it did not matter if you were fast or slow, some sailors were flying and rushing to beat their wind friends. Once all the cards were had, there was a card count back on shore, and as it turns out, a young upcoming sailor from Austin won the race. So much for poker being a game for wily old men!

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The Black Friday mad rush! (credit: Yseult Marc)

The idea of the poker run was well received and everybody had a blast. About an hour after the poker run was completed, two very informal short figure-8 slalom races were ran. Lots of free racing occurred after the two races, and lots of “gobble gobble gobble” screamed out on the water as we were chasing one another. We all had so much fun that the next day, on Saturday, we kept it all going with 10 “practice” slalom races. It was really cool to see new people starting to join the races, especially that young boy getting his first sense of racing and doing awesome trying to catch Chris, Guy, Rey & Bradley. A winning hand at poker gives you wings!

This event was a really good informal event which brought all windsurfers together (not just racers) and everybody had a blast. Looking forward to next year. Gobble on!

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Crowded saturday informal racing! (credit: Yseult Marc)

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