For the second year in a row, late-September dates proved ideal for the Emerald Coast Powerboat Week Poker Run in Destin, Fla. Last weekend’s Florida Powerboat Club-produced event attracted 92 registered boats.
Club president Stu Jones moved the event from mid-August to late September in 2021, and that happening pulled in a solid 84-boat fleet.
“We had a last-minute surge and registration during the last week, which got us up over 90 teams,” Jones said. “The weather was fantastic every day—it didn’t rain once.
“In fact, the heat was above average for the season with temperatures into the low-90s on Friday,” he continued. “But some low-level clouds took the edge off Saturday’s weather and temperatures were in the more-comfortable 80s.”
Florida Club members in town Thursday enjoyed a trek on the water for lunch at Lulu’s. For Friday’s lunch run, the group headed to Juana’s Pagoda, one of the event’s longtime signature destinations. The day included a beach party sponsored by Florida Powerboat Club members Steve and Kelly Marino of Alabama, who own a color-matched DCB Performance Boats M37R Widebody catamaran and a Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console.
Flawless water and weather conditions persisted throughout the weekend.
Saturday’s 120-mile, multiple-stop main event included checkpoints in Navarre Beach and Pensacola, and the participants had five choices for lunch destinations. Adjacent to the event’s Emerald Grand Hotel host venue, Margaritaville hosted that night’s awards dinner and poker-hand play. After a series of elimination rounds, club member Dustin DiGiovanni’s cards were good enough to land him with the $5,000 first prize.
“We had a blast,” said the affable Texan. “Great time, good boating.”
A couple of poker run veterans—but newcomers to the Emerald Coast event—Chris and Shelby Mattingly of Kentucky ran their Midnight Express 43 Solstice center console.
“It was amazing,” said Shelby Mattingly, the owner of the Boat Babe Official women’s apparel line. “This was our first time ever coming to this run. The weather was beautiful, the run was great and the parties were great. We will definitely be back next year.”
Added Jones, “By Sunday morning, most of the poker run teams were on their way home. But they were plugging away on social media telling everyone what a great time they celebrating the 30th annual Emerald Coast Powerboat Week Poker Run.”
The backers of Friday’s beach party, Steve and Kelly Marino of Alabama enjoyed two days on the water with friends in their 37-foot catamaran from DCB Performance Boats.
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