A pair of events—the Florida Powerboat Club Miami Boat Show Poker Run and Exhibit and the Keys Island Runners inaugural Rey Marino Memorial Fun Run and Raft-Up—descended on Key Largo, Fla., this weekend. And while they were decidedly different happenings, both scored big points with their participants and backers.
When the Miami International Boat Show was scrubbed last year, Florida Powerboat Club president Stu Jones added a boat show of his own to the club’s 2021 event. The showcase, which also had several land-based exhibits, was hosted at the Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar in Key Largo. The land-based displays flopped, but the in-water show was a hit with most of the exhibitors who backed it.
So this time around, almost everything showcased was in the water and available for demo rides.
“I’m very happy with the outcome of our event and I think that returning with a Gilbert’s Poker Run Village gave our manufacturing and dealer sponsors a great opportunity to showcase their latest models,” Jones said.
Enjoy more images from the Florida Powerboat Club happening in the slideshow above.
“We had good leads from the Miami show and they came and ran demos,” said Ed Champion of Big Thunder Marine, a full-service Fountain Powerboats and Donzi Marine dealership at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. “We have a lot of things working.”
The poker run attracted 79 entries. Participants were free to explore the Upper Keys on their own for the weekend, though a number poker runners took advantage of Performance Boat Center-organized lunch runs on Saturday and Sunday. According to the Osage Beach, Mo.-based Cigarette Racing Team, MTI, Sunsation Powerboats and Wright Performance dealership’s Brett Manire, that led to sales.
“That was perfect for us,” he said.
Among the Florida Powerboat Club members who enjoyed the weekend were New Jersey’s Chris and Quinn LaMorte, who tackled Thursday’s poker run from Miami to Key Largo in their 36-foot Skater catamaran. On Saturday, the LaMortes and other Florida Powerboat Club members joined the Keys Island Runners group for the trip to the Saturday raft-up on the Islamorada Sandbar in honor of Marino, the 36-year-old founder and owner of Miami-based Hellkats Powerboats who died in a nighttime boating accident in November 2021.
Chris and Quinn LaMorte maximized their Upper Keys boating time by running in both the Florida Powerboat Club and Keys Island Runners events.
“We tagged along for that,” Chris LaMorte said. “We had a great time with some amazing friends—and their weather was beautiful. You can’t do this in New Jersey in February.”
As a veteran of the Florida Powerboat Club Miami Boat Show Poker Run, LaMorte knew what to expect from the event. But Mauricio and Angie Vivanco, who came all the way from Southern California with their new DCB Performance Boats M44 Widebody catamaran, did not.
As previously reported on speedonthewater.com, this weekend’s event was their first Florida Powerboat Club experience and their first time boating in saltwater. They handled the trek to the Upper Keys with their friends Todd and Samantha Edinger—who own a DCB M35 Widebody cat but left it at home out West—with ease and ran alongside Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman in their new DCB M37R Widebody creation.
“It was amazing,” Mauricio Vivanco said with enthusiasm. “I am speechless on how the boat ran in rough water. It was like butter.”
Keys Island Runners founder Daniel Garcia, III, couldn’t say exactly how many members of his group made it to the sandbar yesterday, though he described the turnout as “awesome.” But Jones estimated there were “400 to 500 boats” on the sandbar at one point.
“What a fun bunch of people,” Jones said. “The best part of all of this, really, is all the new friendships that were developed. That’s what I’ve always felt is the foundation of the Florida Powerboat Club.”
The Keys Island Runners event honored Hellkats Powerboats founder Rey Marino, who died in late 2021. Members of the Marino family tackled the run in one of his creations.
Veteran offshore racer Ryan Beckley and his son, Connor, joined “the edges” of the Keys Island Runners group for the day in their 24-foot Skater catamaran. Connor Beckley throttled the cat, according to his father, for most of the afternoon.
“Due to the crazy traffic in the Upper Keys we missed the start of the run, so we joined in the middle,” he said. “With the Keys Island Runners and Florida Powerboat Club groups, there were tons of performance boats of every variety. We went all around in Islamorada, Tavernier and Key Largo.
“Pretty much any day in the Keys is fun,” he added.
Check out the slideshow above for more images of yesterday’s Keys Island Runners Rey Marino Memorial Fun Run and Raft-Up.
For Garcia, the Marino event couldn’t have gone better. But it was bittersweet. Marino was among his dear friends and a strong supporter of the Keys Island Runners group.
“Rey’s brother brought Rey’s boat to the event with Rey’s wife—they led the start of the run,” Garcia said. “It was a great tribute with his boat being there. Then we showered them with 6,000 rose petals at the sandbar. It was a really great way to remember Rey.”
For performance fans of all kinds, Key Largo was the place to be this weekend.