Brian Elliott has a message for Lake Norman boaters: Your raft-up record's going down.
The boater from Michigan and a friend, Kurt Goosen, are organizing their own world record rafting attempt Aug. 7, one week after Saturday's Lake Norman Raft-Up.
For the past seven years, Lake Norman boaters have tied their boats together for charity and to break their own world record set last year: 944 boats.
This year, with a challenge to the record Lake Norman invented, pride is on the line.
Elliott and Goosen learned about the world record raft-up on the Internet and decided that boaters at Lake St. Clair, near Detroit, could sink the Lake Norman record. They contacted Guinness, got the rules and started talking trash.
"Hold onto the fun times now 'cause come the 7th we will take it away for good," Elliott warned Lake Norman boaters on the www.lakestclair.net forum.
The Lake Norman rafters aren't scared.
"Although they have a lot more lake and lot more boats, they don't have a chance at the record because they haven't broken the ice to get out in the middle of the lake," said Michael Good of Lincoln County, who's hooking a Jacuzzi onto his pontoon for Saturday.
Good, 29, is a frequent poster at the www.lknfun.com forum, where the insults have been flying between Lake Norman boaters and people from www.lakestclair.net.
"We're getting people riled up," Elliott says.
Lake St. Clair is sending someone to the Lake Norman Raft-Up with some "Lake St. Clair Raft" banners, Elliott says.
And now there's even a side bet, Good says. "When we win, they're going to drive down from Michigan and wash my boat."
Elliott says Lake St. Clair's advantages are clear: While not a great lake by Michigan standards, Lake St. Clair is much larger than Lake Norman and is connected by river to Lake Huron and Lake Erie. He says 30 area yacht clubs have put the event on their calendars.
But Lake Norman's superior organization gives it the edge, raft-up planners say.
The Michiganders might have 1,000 boats show up, but they'll find it difficult to get them all registered, tied in a continuous line and ready for an aerial photograph.
"I think they're in for a lot more than they think it's going to be," says Mickey Nutting, event manager for the Lake Norman Raft-Up. For example, the Raft-Up no longer relies on individual boats' anchors to hold the line. They have a complex system of concrete markers on the bottom of the lake that keeps the boats from drifting too much. And legions of volunteers on personal watercraft will help register each boat and hook them to the line.
This year, for the first time, there will be port-o-johns, and a restaurant will deliver barbecue via personal watercraft.
Good has tried hard to inspire other Lake Norman boaters to come. People come to the raft-up from all walks of life, but when they get there, they're all boaters, he says. He's even printing up T-shirts to benefit Lake Norman's anti-hydrilla effort, featuring the "Top 10 reasons I attended the 2004 Lake Norman Raft Up."
Reason No. 10: "To make Lake St. Clair squirm in their shallow little bay."
7th Lake Norman Raft-Up
Here is the schedule of activities that will be held Saturday and Sunday in connection with the raft-up: Saturday
Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at marker T-5 (near Interstate 77 and North Harbor Club). You must register to be counted. Participating in the raft-up is free, but donations are accepted. Proceeds go to the Lake Norman Marine Commission.
Family Fun Day at Queen's Landing on N.C. 150. Moon Huffstetler will attempt to set a Lake Norman record for treading water starting at 9 a.m. Other activities go from noon to 9 p.m. with a ski show at 1 p.m., hydrofoil competition at 2:30 p.m., the Guinness World Record jump attempt by hydrofoiler Billy Rossini at 4 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m.
For more information: www.lakenormanraftup.com.
What: Part of the Catawba River system, between Mountain Island Lake and Lookout Shoals.
History: Created by Duke Power in 1963.
Area: 51 square miles.
Vessels registered with the state: 41,000-plus in four counties that touch the lake.
Water temp: 85 degrees.
Raft-up record: 944 boats.
LAKE ST. CLAIR
What: Part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
History: Discovered by French explorers in 1689.
Area: 430 square miles.
Vessels registered with the state: More than 154,000 in three Michigan counties that touch the lake.
Water temp: 68 degrees.
Raft-up record: None.
SOURCE: www.lakestclair.net; Michigan Secretary of State's office; www.lakenormans