It wasn’t hard to predict that the second Florida Powerboat Club Winter Poker Run from Grove Harbour Marina in Coconut Grove, Fla., to the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club in Marathon, Fla., was likely to improve. But based on participant feedback, good weather overall (Friday’s run was on the cool side) and a venue that was a year removed from being brand new as it was for the 2015 run, the three-day event was better than expected.
Pete Boden of Shoot 2 Thrill Pix captured another day in paradise during the Winter Poker Run lunch stop at Gilbert’s in Key Largo.
Stu Jones, FPC’s founder and president, said he wasn’t surprised by the number of participants—22 registered boats—but by the variety of boats.
“We had everything from fast catamarans to sportboats, center consoles and yachts,” said Jones, adding that two Searey amphibious airplanes joined the fun and made some low-flying passes to the delight of the boating participants. “Even I got to drive a boat. Ron Szolack let me captain his new Mystic Powerboats M4200 luxury center console, which is an incredible ride.”
Rather than choose one image from the Winter Poker Run—the picturesque lunch stop on Friday at Gilbert’s in Key Largo above was an obvious choice—we selected three images to complement the participants we interviewed for the event wrap-up story, and a few extras for the slideshow at the end.
Mike Fuqua enjoyed his first Florida Keys poker run in his 32-foot Sunsation sportboat. Photo courtesy Mike Fuqua
Tennessee performance boater Mike Fuqua and his fiancé, Christy, didn’t just have a fun time running their Sunsation Powerboats 32-foot V-bottom powered by twin MerCruiser 496 Mag HO engines (above), they also took home the winning poker hand prize.
“I’m pretty new to the club, but after doing the Emerald Coast Poker Run in Destin last summer, the Key West Poker Run in a friend’s boat, and now this run to Marathon, I’m hooked,” said Furqua, who owns FTD Customs in Hendersonville, Tenn. “This run was special because it was the first time I’d taken my own boat into the Keys, and because we probably met everyone on the poker run since the group wasn’t too big. I don’t know for sure, but we might have been the slowest and shortest boat and we still had a blast.”
Definitely not the shortest or the slowest in the group, New Jersey’s Michael Ciasulli said he enjoyed his run down to Marathon on Friday as well as Saturday’s dinner party. The fact that his Skater Powerboats 388 (right) boat broke down on Saturday and ended up leaving Sunday on its trailer didn’t ruin the trip.
“Besides the transmission issue that sidelined the boat, we managed to make the most of it—you can do that in a place as beautiful as Marathon and the Faro Blanco,” said Ciasulli, who won the award for Best Dressed Crew. “Next to Key West, this is probably my favorite poker run of the year. I just love being in the Keys. It helps when you have a guy like Tom Healey from Marine Unlimited your my corner. There’s no way I’d want to do this without him by my side.”
Although he wasn’t in his 52 MTI for Friday’s run from Miami to Marathon, Johnny O’Loughlin’s crew had a great time in the new cat.
Despite his crew doing most of the run on Friday without him as he didn’t land in Miami until late Friday night, New York performance boater Johnny O’Loughlin made the most out of Saturday’s nice weather and took his new 52-foot MTI catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines (above) past Marathon and all the way to Key West for lunch.
“We had a great time in the MTI—talk about a phenomenal boat,” O’Loughlin said. “We were back at Faro Blanco in time to get ready for the party. I was impressed with the marina and the whole property. The Hyatt was nice and the pools were nice. Everything was first class.”
Check out the slideshow above for a few more images from the Florida Powerboat Club’s 2016 Winter Poker Run.