Minus lunch stops, the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual Key West Poker Run, which is slated for November 6-13 and turns 30 this year, would be far easier to plan. Boats would reach their final destination much earlier, which would give participants more time secure their catamarans, V-bottoms and center consoles, check into their hotels and clean up before heading to Duval Street and beyond with a detour. of course, to 511 Greene Street for the ninth annual Speed On The Water “Racing To Rebuild” Key West Bash presented by CMR Construction and Roofing.
But what fun would that be? Though lunch stops present logistical challenges for Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones and company, they are key social component of any given poker run. Lunch stops give participants a chance to catch up and hang out, maybe even swap a few tall tales about the ride down from Miami.
But for several years, Jones has arranged for powerboat brands to have their own lunch stops—if desired—on Thursday’s trek to Key West.
“Everyone loves the brand-specific gatherings because, ultimately. it makes the experience much better for those who attend the lunches,” Jones explained. “Nobody really cares in the club if the manufacturer groups are getting together because there’s at least 25 other brands represented on the roster and they can always enjoy each other’s company.”
The presenting sponsor of the event, Cigarette Racing Team has its lunch stop set for Playa Largo.
Of the 250 boats currently registered, 80 are heading down Wednesday. Gilbert’s Tiki Bar and Resort, a Florida Powerboat Club favorite, will be the sole lunch stop for the fleet.
While the Gilbert’s lunch stop is open to any participant who heads down Thursday, some 25 Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats owners will head for Sundowners in Key Largo. For presenting Key West Poker Run sponsor Cigarette Racing, the lunch stop is Playa Largo in Key Largo and is setup to accommodate 20 boats. Mystic Powerboats has a nine-boat lunch stop set up at Lazy Days in Marathon.
Nor-Tech owners will head to the Sundowner for Thursday’s lunch,
Though he hasn’t received confirmation from the company, Jones said, he has reserved enough 25 spots between the harbor and rafting along the seawall at the Postcard Inn on Islamorada for the MTI faithful.
“The manufacturers love it as well, because it’s like having their own little mini rendezvous and they don’t really have to do any planning to set it up,” said Jones. “I do everything—I pick the venue, select a menu and assign all of the boats that are going. All they have to do is show up and help pay the bill.”
For MTI owners who’d like to stick together during next month’s Key West Poker, the Postcard Inn will be all theirs.
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