The Texas Outlaw Challenge is a massive boating event that gathers numerous businesses and community members from the surrounding area to support the weekend’s activities. There’s a lot of infrastructure and planning required, from safety information to patrol boats to divers to medical response. Led by Paul Robinson, the staff that brings all of these essentials to the event is comprised entirely of volunteers. You have to give it up for these guys; they deserve a heap of thanks for making this event happen. It’s no small team of volunteers, however:
One of the most important volunteer groups are the shootout safety teams. Their work begins months before the event, coordinating vessel staffing as well as maps, directions, and other safety information to be distributed to participants. There are fifteen boats on deck, split into different roles. Two medical response boats accommodate medics, divers, and the necessary equipment in preparation for (hopefully nonexistent) emergencies. Three patrol boats have the capability for high-speed response and towing capacity. One of these vessels has the ability to right overturned boats. Start, staging, and finish line vessels have a higher visibility due to their need to communicate with participants and change the course via flags and radio. Course set vessels set the initial buoys for the course. Lastly but not least, a spectator patrol vessel rounds out the fleet and keeps spectators off the run area.
Various police, Coast Guard and fire boats are on duty as well to lend their support to the challenge. The diver teams are comprised of three NASA rescue divers and several local Law Enforcement Dive Officers, further confirming that the expertise and support present from the community is outstanding. Medical helicopters had full access to the site as well.
The Challenge also makes a unique distinction in the event in an arena where too often bravado comes before safety. They want their Poker Run and Shootout to be two distinct events, with people getting the 100+ MPH runs out of their system on a closed course beforehand so the Poker Run can be the relaxed social gathering it’s meant to be. As we always say, a Poker Run is Not A Race. They’re so serious about this, in fact, that 200 GPS units are available to be distributed to participants at the poker run safety meeting. If a GPS is retrieved with a recalled speed of over 100 MPH, the boat forfeits any potential event prizes and Outlaw Gun trophy awards. Their motto is, if you’re an Outlaw, show your stuff at the shootout or don’t show it at all.
The Texas Outlaw Challenge got a lot of things right and this was no exception. It’s always appreciated to see professionalism and safety being taken seriously in this arena of powerboating. The combined experience of the team exceeds 60 years, working with racing organizations such as the APBA, OSS, SBI, and SDBA. If you haven’t been a part of this experience before you need to do so and find out why we’ve said it’s one of the biggest things in Texas.
Thanks to Jay Nichols of Naples Image for the Photo.