Sunsation Sun Run At 150-Plus Registered Boats
Set for August 3-5, the Sunsation Boats Sun Run in the St. Clair, Mich., area has 150-plus closed-deck V-bottom sportboats and CCX center consoles registered. Yes, you read that correctly.
More than 150 Sunsation owners are signed up to be part of the second-year event.
Though accurate records of such gatherings are not kept, the 2023 Sunsation Sun Run likely is the largest single-brand, high-performance boat happening of its kind—ever. The only thing close? The 2023 Performance Boat Center Rendezvous for Cigarette Owners, which had 120 registered for the Lake of the Ozarks happening in June.
With more than 150 boats registered, the 2023 Sunsation Sun Run could be the largest single-brand happening in the history of the high-performance boating segment. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“People drop out and people drop in, so realistically we are expecting 125 to 130 boats to show up,” explained Ryan Wenk, Sunsation’s national sales manager and director of marketing.
What’s more, sportboats built by the 41-year-old Algonac, Mich., company will compromise much of the Sun Run fleet—and Sunsation hasn’t built sportboats for built since the company began focusing exclusively on its CCX center-console line in 2016.
The brand’s grassroots following, Wenk explained, is second to none. So though he’s impressed with the registration numbers, he is not completely surprised by them.
In 2022, the inaugural Sunsation Sun Run attracted approximately 90 participants.
“I knew we would have more entries than the we did last year because that was the first owners event we had done in 10 or 15 years, but owners are coming out of the woodwork,” he said. “We have people coming all the way from California without their boat just to be there, people coming New York and Tennessee and Missouri and more. Some participants I’ve spoken with are making the Sun Run their 2023 summer vacation.
“We don’t even build sportboats anymore, but we are still supporting our sportboat family of owners and always will,” he added. “We have such a strong community of owners, and many of them started with Sunsation when sportboats were all we built.”
For Wenk and the entire Sunsation team, the Sun Run also is about supporting their local community via bringing participants to town and showing them what the area—on and off the waters of Lake St. Clair—has to offer. Starting Thursday at noon with move-in, the Sunsation Sun Run boat show and street celebration will happen in downtown New Baltimore. The display will take over three blocks and can accommodate 65 boats.
So far, 40 Sunsation owners have signed up to bring their beauties. Move-in will close in the late afternoon, as will the streets filled with boats.
The official festivities end at 8 p.m. Though Sunsation will be have a VIP tent open from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. with food and drinks for Sunsation owners and their guests, Wenk and company encourage Sun Run participants to support the restaurants and watering holes in the downtown area that evening.
“We love the way Boyne Thunder Poker Run does its street party and we took inspiration from that,” said Wenk. “Downtown New Baltimore isn’t quite as developed as Boyne City, but it’s up and coming and really cool.”
Even if all 150-plus boats don’t make it, the Sun Run will depart Friday at 11 a.m. from Cabana Blue Lakefront Bar and Grill in Clay Township as it did last year. From there, the fleet heads to Hook restaurant in St. Clair Shores for lunch and then to Browns Waterfront Bar and Grill—the final stop of the day—on Harsens Island.
“The last stop at Browns could be a little tight,” said Wenk. “If Browns is full, we are encouraging people to just explore the lake. We want Sunsations to flood Lake St. Clair so everywhere people look they will see a Sunsation.”
Brett Manire of Performance Boat Center—Sunsation’s No. 1 dealer—in Osage Beach, Mo., will be among the participants returning to the Sun Run this year. For Manire, it will be a family trip as he is bringing his daughter, McKinley, and girlfriend Kaitlyn Kristal. They are bringing a new Sunsation 40 CCX center console to the event.
As it did last year, the Sunsation Sun Run will depart from Cabana Blue Lakefront Bar and Grill.
“Sunsation is extremely important to everyone at Performance Boat Center,” he said. “If there’s going to be a bunch of Sunsation owners getting together, Performance Boat Center will be there.”
“We really enjoyed last year’s run—it was great to see all the factory guys and all the owners,” he added.
Among Manire’s other probable passengers on the 40-footer are Jason Cornish of Kansas City, Mo., and his 18-year-old, college-bound daughter, Genevieve, a devoted Sunsation fan who is headed to Kansas State University in two weeks. Cornish had planned to run his 2023 model-year Sunsation 32 CCX center console, which he purchased through Performance Boat Center, in the event but logistical issues likely will force him to leave the 32-footer at home.
“I wanted to have our own boat there, but when I told Genevieve there might be a problem and that we probably would be riding on the 40 CCX, she said, ‘I want to go on that boat,’” Cornish said, then laughed.
Though Jason Cornish may have leave his 32 CCX center console—captured here during last weekend’s Performance Boat Center/Mercury Racing Outboard Fun Run—at home, he and his daughter, Genevieve, have another option for their father-daughter weekend in Michigan. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
For participants in town for the weekend, Sunsation also has a Saturday raft-up on Miscamoot Bay, starting at 11 a.m.
Said Performance Boat Center’s Manire, “Team Sunsation hit the event out of the park last year. We’re looking forward to hanging out with them and all the Sunsation owners.”
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