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HomeEvent CoverageBorden Light Poker Run Brings Out The Brawn

Borden Light Poker Run Brings Out The Brawn

Before the go-fast powerboat market took an abrupt turn toward center consoles for its own survival in the mid-2000s, you didn’t see them in poker runs. Beefy V-bottoms and catamarans dominated those fleets. If you spied a center console, it was likely a floating card-stop or a safety boat.

Full-size offshore boats—including this famed 43-foot Outerlimits—were the order of the day during 17th annual Borden Light Poker Run. Photos courtesy/copyright Jeff Codman, Jr., Steve Oliviera and Newport Helicopter Tours.

Now, center consoles and outboard engine-powered catamarans dominate most poker-run fleets. Whether you love or loathe that shift, and there are plenty of go-fast boat enthusiasts in each camp, it is as undeniable as it is here to stay.

That made last weekend’s 17th annual Borden Light Poker Run in Fall River, Mass., a bit of an outlier. That’s doesn’t mean there wasn’t a center console to be found in the mix, but they were few and far between. Big catamarans and V-bottom sportboats from the likes of nearby Outerlimits, presenting sponsor Cigarette Racing Team, Fountain Powerboats, Skater Powerboats and more dominated the fleet.

There weren’t many center consoles in the Borden Light fleet, which made this 38-foot Fountain stand out even more than its fiery paintjob did.

All of which helped Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones feel right at home. Jones ran his well-traveled, 2000 model-year Flight 1130 Cigarette 38 Top Gun powered by two Mercury Racing 565 engines with his sons Max and Tyler. Cigarette marketing team member Kim Sewell joined them for the day.

The Borden Light Poker Run was event No. 5 on Jones’ nine-stop Summer Poker Run Tour.

As demonstrated by many of the go-fast boats in the fleet, the Northeast is Outerlimits country.

“The large contingent of center consoles that we have been seeing on poker runs around the nation was absent, “he explained. “It was replaced by a colorful fleet of high-performance V-bottoms with big power and the big decibels.

“By Friday evening, a strong mix of V-bottoms from Outerlimits, Formula, Fountain, Sutphen and more, and even a small fleet of old-school Cigarettes dating back to the early 1990s, was in town for the run.”

Starting with his first visit to the Outerlimits facility in Bristol, R.I., last Friday, it was a weekend of discovery for Jones and his sons. He had not visited nearby Newport before, much less traveled there on Narragansett Bay in his own 38-foot Cigarette as he would the following morning with the 60-plus boat group.

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Enjoy more images from the 17th annual Borden Light Poker Run.

The run, which had checkpoints in Providence, Warwick, Newport and Bristol, R.I., departed Borden Light Marina, the home of the pier-located Tipsy Seagull Bar and Grill and the Pier 52 restaurant after-party host venues, after 12 p.m. Though the trek was just 67 miles, Jones described it as “an incredible eye-opener.”

“Very few places have ever given me the intense visual experience that I just had over the last couple of days,” he said. “And Mike and Nicole Lund, the event organizers, rolled out the red carpet for us from the start. Within minutes of our arrival on Thursday they took us to a great Portuguese restaurant for dinner.

“After the poker run, the group headed to the Pier 52 restaurant card-hand play, a wonderful dinner and charity auction for the Make-A-Wish of Massachusetts and Rhode Island organizations,” he continued. “The auction raised more than $60,000 for those charities and the Tunnels To Towers Foundation.”

The entire event operated out of Borden Light Marina.

Lund was touched by the generosity of the participants and their guests. For he and his wife, organizing the event has become a labor of love.

“The most rewarding part of the day was seeing so many of our participants in the run and surrounding community step up to make this event one of the single largest donors to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Make-A-Wish organizations and Tunnels To Towers,” Lund said. “Both organizations were represented by former recipients to talk about what our gifts meant to them and their families. It was a moving moment and certainly drove up donations in the live auction. In fact both our winners—first place William Whalen, who owns a 35-foot Cigarette, and second-place Steven Smith, who has a 38-foot Cigarette—donated their winnings back into the pot.”

Of course, you didn’t have to be a fish out of South Florida water to enjoy the New England happening. Dan Kleitz, the national sales manager for Outerlimits who has done the run Borden Light Poker Run several times, had a ball during the event despite breaking down five minutes into the poker run itself with a broken rocker arm in one of the Mercury Racing 1075SCi engines in the Outerlimits 42 GTX V-bottom he piloted with owner John Makepeace.

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Some of the many faces from the 2023 Borden Light Poker Run.

“It was still a great time—plus we still had excellent representation from our local Outerlimits customers,” he said. “And it was great to see Stu Jones of the Florida Powerboat Club up here in our territory to discover what Northeast boating is all about.”

To complete his adventure, Jones and his crew joined a small group for a run to Block Island, just 23 miles south of Newport, in New York’s Long Island Sound, on Sunday morning. Block Island has long been a popular boating destination in the area, and visiting it was the perfect ending to his trip. The lumpy Atlantic Ocean that day made for an authentic Northeastern boating experience.

For Stu Jones and his sons, boating in the Northeast was a radical departure from what they’re used to in South Florida.

“Block Island was the perfect boater friendly destination loaded with historic charm and a festive vibe, all of which made us want to stay another day.”

While he was there, he bumped into his friend Tim Gallagher, who runs Performance Boat Center’s South Florida operation, at Ballard’s Beach Resort. Gallagher was there on a sailing vacation with his family.

“Running into Tim and his family was a very pleasant surprise,” Jones said. “Like the rest of Summer Poker Run Tour, it left us feeling that the world might not be so big after all.”

Offshore V-bottoms ruled as usual at the Borden Light event.

Added Lund, “I’m incredibly proud of everyone who helped make this event what it is today. Our goal next year is to attract 75 boats from longer distances to come enjoy our awesome weekend of boating and celebrating while contributing to wonderful causes.”

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