Located in the Florida Panhandle, Destin is one of the Sunshine State’s prettier bits of coastline. Miles of sugar-sand beaches that lead to even more miles of vibrant blue-green, Gulf of Mexico water define the area dubbed the Emerald Coast, which comes by its name honestly. And Destin is smack-dab in the heart of it.
Yet when you’ve been there more times than you can remember, it’s easy to get jaded and take all that beauty for granted.
At least until you watch people see it for their first time, as the Scrapyard Media team of company Brad DiMaggio, his wife, Katie, and videographer/editor Bobby Boyd did last weekend during the Florida Powerboat Club Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run. In town for a couple of Speed On The Water video projects, the Scrapyard folks fell into almost reverent silence when they opened the door to their eighth-floor condo in the Emerald Grand Resort and got a look their Gulf Coast view.
“I thought the area was beautiful,” said Brad DiMaggio, who is not easily impressed. “White sand and dark green foliage with pine trees created the exact look I go for in my edits. We had a blast shooting there and I’m trying to convince the Sunsation guys (Sunsation Powerboats is a Scrapyard client) to add the event to their calendar for next year.”
The Destin venue is among the coolest and most convenient in the poker run realm.
Almost 100 Florida Powerboat Club members clearly share DiMaggio’s taste in boating scenery, as that’s how many signed up for the organization’s 31st annual Emerald Coast happening.
“We enjoyed fantastic weather and ideal boating conditions for the fleet of just under 100 poker run teams that spanned the Southeast, Midwest, Upper Midwest and Canada,” said Stu Jones, the president of the poker-run-producing outfit based in Pompano Beach. “We also had a strong contingent of members from Texas and Oklahoma.”
Among the participants from the Lone Star state was Chad Havens, who ran his 40-foot Skater catamaran in the Emerald Coast event. Since 2018, it has been a regular stop on his annual poker run schedule.
Two days before the Destin event began, Glasstream/GSX Powerboats owner Kruis Retherford ran the company’s new 36-foot GSX center console for a Speed On The Water/Scrapyard Media “In The Lead” series video. Photo by Brad DiMaggio copyright Scrapyard Media.
“Destin was a lot of fun and a very well-organized event,” said Havens, who sponsors the Super Stock-class Savage team that completed in Clearwater, Fla., yesterday. “And the weather really cooperated with us all weekend long with sunny skies and milder temperatures.”
But you don’t have to travel from afar to appreciate the area. The owner of Glasstream/GSX Powerboats in relatively nearby Dothan, Ala., Kruis Retherford grew up in Panama City Beach, about an hour east by car from Destin. Retherford tackled the run with Glasstream director of marketing Ashley Strong and other members of the Glasstream team in a new 36-foot GSX center console.
The Emerald Coast event fleet was the largest in recent history.
“I’ve participated in Stu’s events for years now, and the Emerald Coast poker run is always one of our favorites,” Retherford said. “It’s in our backyard and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. And Harbor Walk Village, where Stu hosts the event, makes everything convenient and easy.”
Fun runs on Thursday and Friday led into Saturday’s main event. Jones praised local first-responders, from no less than six fire departments and law enforcement, for their “unprecedented amount of safety support.” He also complimented the participants for safe operation within the club’s rules and guidelines. No incidents were reported during the weekend.
The Emerald Coast event was the last of eight stops on Jones’ own 2023 poker run tour. His summer-long journey couldn’t have ended on a higher note.
The fun began with casual Thursday and Friday fun runs.
“When you have a fleet of 100 boats and over 400 participant, it’s like a military operation,” Jones said. “Every last detail must be reviewed and analyzed. With the intention of making it work better every year. I think that we have the right partners, a great poker run course and an extensive event agenda with something for everyone. But more importantly, we seem to have the highest level of cooperation from our participants than ever before.
“In the last 24 hours I have had more positive comments and compliments from our attendees and sponsors,” he added. “They tell me that the structure and the focus on safety in our events is what keeps them coming back. As an organizer, I don’t think you could ask for anything more.”
With the 2023 Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run behind him, Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones now turns his full attention to the club’s signature, early November run to Key West.
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