Sweden is nine hours ahead of California, which means by the time you read this I should be on my way from Stockholm to the town of Falun, which is about three hours by car, to cover this weekend’s Dalarna Poker Run. Dalarna, for the record, is one of 25 provinces in Sweden.
I didn’t know Sweden even had provinces, much less 25 of them. Then again, you could fill a library with books on things I don’t know about Sweden, much less its high-performance powerboating scene.
Which is why I’m going there more or less totally blind.
These are the kinds of far-flung, out-of-your-everyday-comfort-zone adventures you live for as reporter, and I’ve been blessed to have more than a few of them in my career. I’ve covered 24-hour tunnel-boat endurance racing in France and offshore powerboat racing in Malta and Norway. But I’ve never had the chance to experience and cover any organized recreational go-fast boating events in Europe.
How could I say no to that, especially when the event organizers—in the interest of full disclosure—are funding the entire adventure? Only an idiot would turn it down.
The following weekend, meaning Aug. 17-19, I’ll be covering the Smedjebacken Poker Run, which also is in the Dalarna province but only about an hour outside of Stockholm. With just 5,000 full-time residents, Smedjebacken is significantly smaller than Falun, which has 37,000-plus residents. But neither qualifies as a big city. In fact, you could fit all the residents of Smedjebacken and Falun into AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, and still have empty seats.
That this whole assignment came to me thanks to Facebook, a social media train wreck for which I typically hold contempt, is pretty cool. Helmich Hillen, a speedonthewater.com fan who lives in the Netherlands and owns a 27-foot Checkmate V-bottom, reached out to me after reading a late-2017 story about the Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan. We struck up a Facebook Messenger conversation, one thing led to another and by now—the good lord willing, the creek don’t rise and British Airways has its act together—I should be on the way to Falun to cover a Swedish poker run.
I can’t wait to experience it. I can’t wait to write about it. I hope I can do it justice.
Of course, things being what they are at this time of year, I’ll get back to the San Francisco Bay area just in time to unpack, do laundry, repack and head for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri less than 48 hours later. Chances are good that I’ll be a time-zone-dazed hot mess, but here’s what I know without having spent a moment on the water in Sweden.
It will be more than worth it. Sweden called and I had to answer.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.