With 3 months of planning and preparations from Joe Iribarren, Marketing Director of RIVA Motorsports, and Adam Williams of Florida PWC Riders, hundreds of riders from all around the state of Florida and surrounding areas were able to experience the RIVA Invasion of Alligator Reef. The event took place in the beautiful Florida Keys, starting in Key Largo, riding South through the Gulf side to Islamorada, cutting across to the Atlantic to Alligator Reef Light and then back.
The festivities started on Friday with a sunset, rider Meet and Greet. More than 50 riders from various groups drank, ate, mingled, and won tons of giveaways from RIVA, including anything from decals, shirts, and hats, trailer locks, umbrellas to lifejackets.
The logistics of launching over 250 skis in the Florida Keys was one of the biggest challenges for this ride. Therefore, for Saturday, riders were given a choice of three marinas to choose from including John Pennekamp State Park, Caribbean Club, and Yacht Club Drive. Although riding was officially set to start at 10:00 AM, some riders were lining up at the ramps as early as 5:00 in the morning!
This undertaking would simply have not been possible without the local knowledge of organized groups such as Florida PWC Riders. Florida PWC Riders had team leaders staged at each ramp location to help guide riders to the initial meeting point. From the meeting point, the epic ride began. Riders would wind south hugging the Everglades National Park boundary, through beautiful mangroves, narrow channels, and the iconic Toilet Seat Cut. As the Invasion approached the Islamorada Sandbar, you could see skis stretching for more than a mile.
Once past Channel Marker 1, after respectfully honoring the Islamorada Sandbar No Wake Zone, now hundreds of skis were able to open throttle and start their journey on choppier waters toward the famous, and stunning Alligator Reef Light. Once there, they were given over an hour for exploring, snorkeling, mingling with friends, and meeting new people. Then it was time to return. But not before grabbing some grub! Riders now made their way back to the Islamorada Sandbar where they anchored or tied up to other skis, enjoyed some seriously good food from The Pincho Barge, got more giveaways, and shared stories, photos, and photos from the ride.
Safety was of the utmost priority for this ride. RIVA supplied an aid boat that provided drinks, sunscreen, extra fuel, a film crew to document the historic event, and even towed a few breakdowns. There was heavy United States Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife presence throughout most of the route. This was thanks to the collaboration between RIVA Motorsports and both agencies, who seamlessly worked together in the best interest of public safety and the protection the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
With close to 250 skis and over 400 people having participated in this unprecedented ride, it can be safely said that The 2018 RIVA Invasion was a huge success. The event was an amazing opportunity to bring riders together to explore new areas, and bring commerce to the Florida Keys less than a year after being battered by Hurricane Irma. Ski riders from all over Florida, and surrounding areas such as Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, and even Canada participated and experienced the beauty, and wildlife the Florida Keys have to offer.
Aside from the groups’ hard work and dedication, this event was also possible thanks to Joe Bamdas, Dave Bamdas, and Leslie Bamdas Ferrera, the owners of RIVA Motorsports. And to those that attended to the 2018 RIVA Invasion of Alligator Reef, RIVA, and Florida PWC Riders hope you had the time of your lives. And mark your calendars because we will invade again in less than 365 days!