For the next three months, the Florida Powerboat Club will be busier than it has been for the past six. Last weekend’s successful Emerald Coast Poker Run kicked off what has become—thanks to COVID-19-forced event cancellation and rescheduling—a backloaded schedule for the Pompano Beach, Fla., organization.
With its Emerald Coast event in the books, the Florida Powerboat Club is primarily focused on its Tampa Bay Poker Run in late September. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Next up on the FPC roster is its Tampa Bay Poker Run. The event was originally set for April, but Florida Powerboat Club president moved the dates to September 24-27.
“Tampa is looking good I think we will have a good turnout,” said Jones “I’m expecting between 50 and 60 teams based on current registration.”
In rescheduling the Tampa Bay event, Jones initially had to coordinate dock space with organizers of the annual International Boat Builder’s Exposition, a marine industry trade show. The IBEX event was set to begin on Monday after the FPC group departed, which meant that pre-show move-in at the Tampa Bay Convention Center docks would happen during the poker-run weekend. IBEX has since moved to a virtual format.
“That’s actually good for us,” said Jones. “It gives us more slips.”
Returning Tampa Bay Poker Run participant and longtime Florida Powerboat Club supporter Bob Christie plans to run his MTI 340X catamaran in the event.
While tourism is still closed in the Bahamas, Jones has not yet pulled the September 16-20 Bahamas Poker Run from the schedule. The club’s October 8-11 Fall Key West Poker Run, which began its life as a spring happening and Jones described as “doubtful,” is on equally unsteady footing.
However, the club’s signature poker run from Miami to Key West is still on track—in a significantly modified format from previous years—for November 11-16.
Jones said he is expecting 170 boats for the run, which would be 120 boats less than the 2019 event total. Because the event in its modified format is not operating under a special event permit from the city, Jones is in the process of renegotiating lodging rates for the club’s members.
“That is happening as we speak,” he said. “We are seeing average reductions of 30 percent and hotels are adjusting their minimum stay requirements.
“But right now, are big focus is Tampa Bay,” he added. “And it’s shaping up nicely.”
Though its on-scene format will be different from that of recent years, the FPC’s Key West Poker Run is moving forward.