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Boat Count Down at Sanibel-Fort Myers Poker Run

Just got off the phone with Stu Jones, the owner and founder of the Florida Powerboat Club based in Pompano Beach, Fla. Jones is in Fort Myers, Fla., getting ready for the club’s Sanibel-Fort Myers Poker Run March 19-21. Jones said the size of the fleet for this year’s event has dropped substantially.

“It’s shaping up to be 15 or 16 boats, which is really a disaster from a poker-run organizer’s standpoint,” Jones said, then laughed. “But I’m going to have fun and put on a good show and a good event.”

The Sanibel-Fort Myers Run is the third event of the 2010 Florida Powerboat Club season. This also is the third year the event, which has averaged more than 20 boats per year, has been held.

Coming off the Miami Boat Show Poker Run, which reportedly had a larger fleet and greater sponsorship support this year than it did in 2009, Jones said he has been “riding a bit of a roller-coaster” with the economy. But he said there are other significant factors contributing to the reduced fleet in Sanibel.

“It’s been unseasonably cooler, like 10 degrees cooler, for much of this year so far,” he said. “Plus, my competitor (Poker Runs America) has moved its normal March season-opener, which was usually in Sarasota or St. Petersburg, to Fort Myers. It’s next week.

“I am trying to be upbeat and look on the brighter side, but I’m a little concerned that things will be a little slow in the next few months,” he continued. “Fortunately, we have the big Emerald Coast Poker run in the summer, but that’s a long time from now.”