Ready for a fresh start after completing its challenging 2020 season with last month’s Key West Poker Run, the Florida Powerboat Club opened registration this week for its seventh annual Winter Poker Run To The Florida Keys. The first event of club’s 2021 season, the run will begin at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami and run through the Upper Keys to the Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club as its weekend destination.
With the 2020 poker-run season behind it, the Florida Powerboat Club is ready to roll into 2021 with next month’s Winter Poker Run. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Stu Jones, the president of the Florida Powerboat Club based in Pompano Beach, said he is expecting 30 to 40 club members to register for the run. Rather than providing aerial photography of the boats on their way to Faro Blanco Resort Marina, Saturday’s fun run will begin with a photo shoot—with the Seven Mile Bridge and more as a backdrop—that morning. Though participants will, as always, choose what they want do on Saturday, Jones said he is hoping to lead most of the group to all the way to Key West via the protected back route.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to get more of our members more comfortable with the north-side route to Key West, because the strong easterly winds we often get for the Key West Poker Run shut down the outside route in the ocean,” he said. “But for members who want to stay closer to the Faro Blanco, there are plenty of great lunch-run venues such as the Island Fish Company and the Hawk’s Cay Resort in Marathon.”
For Jones, the 2021 Winter Poker Run represents a milestone of sorts. Finished two years ago, his Project 1080 Cigarette V-bottom powered by twin Mercury Racing 540 engines in 2018 became a Florida Powerboat Club paceboat two seasons. The 38-footer made its official full-season debut at the 2019 event.
Through Saturday’s fun run, Jones is hoping to familiarize participants with the trickier protected route to Key West, a must when wind conditions make the final open-ocean leg too rough for his annual Key West Poker Run in November.
“We worked on it throughout 2018 and it was completed in time for the entire 2019 season,” he said. “Between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, the boat has 240 hours on it and we’ve had no problems.
“I did blow a couple of drives,” he said, then laughed. “But that was me being stupid—that’s the harsh truth. I had DriveGuardian units installed last summer and have had no problems since. I feel a bit of extra comfort knowing that my stupidity is being corrected when my adrenaline gets going during a poker run.”