Though Florida Powerboat Club founder and owner Stu Jones probably won’t hit his goal of attracting 30 boats, 20 cars and motorcycles and 10 aircraft to his organization’s first Land-Air-Sea Winter Poker Run to Marathon, he said he is pleased with the interest the event has generated so far. The run departs out of Grove Harbour Marine in Coconut Grove on Friday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. Before reaching its final destination of the recently rebuilt Hyatt Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon, the participants will take a break at Gilbert’s Tiki Bar—an FPC lunch stop staple—in Key Largo.
Pass Blocker, a well-known 52-foot MTI catamaran, is registered for the upcoming FPC Winter Poker Run to Marathon. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.
“On the boat side, we have 10 or 12 boats with some big heavy-hitters so far,” said Jones, “Brad Benson is bringing his 52-foot MTI Pass Blocker, Michael Ciasulli is coming with his Skater 388 and the Merit brothers, who have been ‘missing in action’ for over a year with the club, are coming down with their big, 48-foot Fountain. They’re big car guys, too, so I also think they’ll bring a couple of hot rods. And Bob and Elle Berg, the owners of owners of the Team Artemis 50-foot Nor-Tech, will be introducing their new 97-foot Hargrave Motoryacht, The Program, at the Marathon event.
“Since this is only our second time doing a land, air and sea event, the aircraft side has been a little slow, but I just got off the phone with a guy who says he’s bringing three or four seaplanes,” Jones continued. “I think once everyone sees the resort it will become a regular event for us. There was no ‘renovation’ involved with the Faro Blanco. They tore the whole thing down—the only thing they left standing was the lighthouse. People will like is how self-contained everything is at Faro Blanco. People want things to be simple. They want to be able to dock their boats and walk 50, 100 paces to get something to eat and have a drink, have someone from the hotel come down and get their luggage and check into a nice, clean room. The Lighthouse Grill, where people will hang out, is elevated and has a great view of the marina. And when you want to go boating, all you have to do is fire up your boat—the harbor entrance is right there. You’re about five miles from the Seven Mile Bridge and 50 miles from Key West. There are so many options because you’re right smack in the middle of the Florida Keys.”
On Saturday, Jan. 24, interested participants will make a ‘lunch fun run’ to the well-known Hawk’s Cay Resort to the north. Jones said that, in addition the lunch, the club has planned entertainment for the poker runners.
“Hawk’s Cay, which was the traditional venue for our Winter Poker Run, is such a big, beautiful venue, but it’s so big that participants who didn’t get villas with dockage in front of them tended to feel a little disconnected from the group,” said Jones. “That’s the beauty of Faro Blanco, everything is so self-contained. But we still love Hawk’s Cay and we’ve got some (water-propelled) jetpack performers coming down to put on a show. We’ve also invited some professional wakeboarders to come put on a demo.
“Bad weather made it tough on our first land, air and sea event last May,” he added. “But since October, the weather here has been absolutely perfect. We’ve had a few rainy days, but no tropical storms for hurricanes or anything like that. January is a great month to be in the Keys.”
Editor’s Note: To read a feature on Brad Benson’s 52-foot MTI Pass Blocker catamaran, download the March/April 2014 issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine by clicking here . To read a feature on Michael Ciasulli’s Skater 388 catamaran, download the July/August 2014 issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine by clicking here.
Forecast 2015: Stu Jones—Florida Powerboat Club
Beyond Powerboating in Paradise