It’s a tradition for Stu Jones, president and founder of the Florida Powerboat Club, and I to sit down toward the end of the club’s premier event—the Key West Poker Run—and reflect on the bucket-list poker run that goes from Miami to Key West each year in November.
Several poker run boats return to the docks in front of the Conch Republic on Saturday.
On Saturday Jones explained to me that there were a few things that stood out to him about this year’s event, which started from the soon-to-be-revitalized Haulover Marine Center (read the story).
“Overall I’m happy with how everything came together—I think the key was that the two days of leaving Miami for Key West featured conditions that were nothing short of perfection,” said Jones, adding that the only real negative part of the run was the way the club was treated by the Miami-Dade County staff at Haulover Park. “We had warm temperatures, light winds and relatively calm seas even on the outside. No matter what size boat you had the conditions were super favorable.
“This was the first year we started at Haulover,” he continued. “We’ve always used the facility to launch boats and store trailers, but in the past people would launch and drive to Sea Isle Marina. We didn’t have that option this year and I’m glad we didn’t because with the opening of the new facility next year we’re going to be using that location a lot more and it opened our eyes to all of the lodging options near there. From economy hotels to luxurious two- and three-bedroom condos, our members have some great options which makes the location even more attractive.”
Speedonthewater.com’s Jason Johnson hanging with Stu Jones at the Key West Poker Run Village.
Jones, who informed speedonthewater.com that the club was planning a poker run to Cuba in May, said the thing that continues to amaze is him is how many people are getting into the sport.
“The biggest thrill for me is seeing all the new blood here this year,” Jones said. “It always amazes me to see where everyone comes from. We have people from the West Coast, the Northeast, Canada and Europe. The amount of effort people go through to do this event really makes me proud. This is our signature event and to see so many people go so far out of their way to be here is unbelievable. We had representation from all of the major manufacturers in this sport, and once again Cigarette Racing won the Manufacturers’ Cup with I think 30 boats here this year.
“I have to thank my entire staff and everyone involved behind the scenes,” he added. “We have a lot of moving parts—way more infrastructure than we’ve ever had and it all went smoothly. The safety management is also something that makes me proud. We had three Miami-Dade fire boats on the water both days and seven or eight Florida Fish and Wildlife boats, plus a huge staff of paramedics. For both me and the club members, it’s comforting to know there are professionals on hand each day.”