Editor’s note: This is the first story in speedonthewater.com’s “Highs and Lows from 2013” series, which will feature at least one new interview per day throughout the month of December.
The owner and founder of the Florida Powerboat Club (FPC) in Pompano Beach, Fla., Stu Jones has much to be thankful for after completing another safe and fun poker run season. Not only did he and the club’s end-of-the-year poker run receive a lot of recognition in Key West, Fla., thanks to the possibility of the offshore world championships presented by Super Boat International leaving town (read the story), he was able to take his family on a fun summer poker run tour to events that weren’t produced by the FPC. When asked to provide his highs and lows from 2013, Jones didn’t hesitate.
High: Obviously the high was finishing off the year strong with the Key West Poker Run—our monumental event—without any major hitches. From the weather and all that stuff we have no control over to the safety management, the responsible approach by every participant and the way the poker run village came together, I couldn’t be happier with this year’s run. I have to admit, it also was nice to finally be acknowledged by the people in Key West, including the city manager and the current and former mayors. After 21 years of bringing boats down there, to get some recognition for what our event means to the town was a personal high.
Low: The loss of Jeff Asbell and Brad Smith at the Lake Cumberland Poker Run was a huge low this year (read the story). Although the incident wasn’t directly related to an FPC event, Asbell and Smith were members and to lose anybody in a boating accident is a low point. I kind of have a double low as the club lost its longtime helicopter pilot Mark Palmieri in April (read the story). Mark worked for the club for seven years and was the most dedicated and loyal pilot we’ve ever had. Losing him in a helicopter crash was extremely tough. This year has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.