Heading home yesterday from the third annual Florida Powerboat Club Orange Beach Powerboat Week Poker Run, club president Stu Jones offered a philosophical take on the Alabama-based happening. The sold-out event, which incorporated a two-day poker-run format, attracted 55 boats and more than 200 participants.
Clark Beecher and company enjoyed the Florida Powerboat Club Orange Beach Powerboat Week Poker Run in his just-delivered new MTI 390X sport catamaran. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Rome was not built in a day, and that expression applies very well to the evolution of any poker-run,” Jones explained. “The third annual Orange Beach Powerboat Week event proved to both organizers and attendees that with a bit of trial and error something wonderful can come together. Based out of The Wharf, the Alabama Gulf Coast location clearly has its merits including great lodging, dockage, abundant parking, a nearby boat ramp and more.
“But the format offers something that only those who attend can really understand, and that is the ability to keep the group together and create that one perfect element we all enjoy—camaraderie,” he added.
The owner of The Wharf venue, Scott Favre filled his new Sunsation Boats 40 CCX center console for the weekend event.
Though participants came from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, more than half arrived in Orange Beach from Texas.
Among them was Houston’s Clark Beecher, who took delivery of a new MTI 390X catamaran from Miami-based TNT Custom Marine. He was joined by TNT’s Steve Fernandez and Brian Tillett, a good friend Beecher got to know when he owned an Active Thunder V-bottom. (Tillett is a longtime Active Thunder owner and brand loyalist.)
“The event was great,” Beecher said. “And there were a whole lot of MTIs there.”
Though the 39-footer is Beecher’s first catamaran, it won’t be his last model from the Wentzville, Mo.-based high-performance boat builder. He and his wife, Ashley, also have ordered an MTI-V 42 performance center console that should be completed next spring.
The Beechers have four children with ages from three to 13 years old. They plan to keep the cat, and eventually their center console, at their second home in the Destin, Fla., area.
Enjoy more mages from the 2022 Orange Beach Powerboat Week Poker Run in the slideshow above.
“The center console will be our ‘family boat,’ but I think my wife and I are really going to love the cat,” Beecher said. “Steven taught me a bunch this weekend—I think I got about 14 hours of seat time.
“I’ve never ridden in anything like it,” he added. “At one point, I looked at Steven and said, ‘Yup, this is my favorite boat, ever.'”
The sporty conditions the fleet encountered during Friday’s 80-mile eastbound run to Pensacola Beach mellowed considerably for Saturday’s 60-mile westbound trek to Mobile Bay. Following the Saturday leg, many of the participants headed for Crab Island, a famed raft-up spot in Destin.
“With the light winds and calm seas, these teams had no problem doing that round-trip and making it back to The Wharf in time for the Saturday night party for seven-card poker-hand play and award presentations,” Jones said. “Many, many thanks to everyone for traveling hundreds of miles for this festive weekend of fabulous weather and some great boating off the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast.”
Floating card stops were part of the program for both days of the poker run.