With a mix of 26 center consoles, V-bottom sportboats and catamarans, last weekend’s Florida Powerboat Club Fort Myers Poker Run was among the club’s smallest—if not the smallest—events of the year. But for FPC president Stu Jones and approximately 100 club members, the two-day event was among the most laidback and enjoyable so far this season.
The 26-boat fleet included a healthy mix of performance-oriented center consoles, V-bottoms and catamarans. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“People really seem to let their hair down at our smaller events,” he said. “That seemed to be the vibe in Fort Myers. We thought we’d only have 22 boats, but Nor-Tech rallied with their entries, with everything form a new 34 Club Sport with triple (Mercury Racing) Verado 400s to four 39s and a 450 Sport center console from Bob Crow at South Florida Performance Boats in Fort Lauderdale.”
The event started with a fun run and raft-up that went south from the Pink Shell Resort and Marina host venue to Bonita Beach. On Saturday, the group headed north on a course that took them to Redfish Pass for a card stop and the Eagle Grill at Boca Grande Marina for lunch. From there, they had one more stop—a private tour of Useppa Island—before heading back to the Pink Shell Resort for dinner.
With the next FPC event—the six-day Bahamas run—set for June, Jones and his wife, Jackie, have some time on their hands. Jones said he will dedicate much of it to “Project 1080,” a repower project for the 38’ Cigarette Top Gun he purchased last fall. Working in collaboration with Mercury Racing, he’s swapping out the 18-year-old boat’s equally vintage Mercury 540 Bulldog engines for a pair of new Mercury Racing 540s.
For a closer look at the Florida Powerboat Club’s Fort Myers Poker Run fleet, check out the slideshow above.
“I always wanted to own a straight-bottom Cigarette Top Gun because I knew how well they ran,” he said. “Through the club, I’ve been promoting Mercury’s ‘Race To Repower’ program. That’s where I got the idea.”
Jones said that despite Fort Myers event’s relatively low boat count the event is sized perfectly for its host venue and stops, and that it will return next year.
“The Pink Shell venue is perfect for 30 to 35 boats—as are the checkpoints and lunch stop—but that’s all,” he said. “They couldn’t accommodate much more. I’d like to see slightly bigger numbers, but that’s it.
“It’s the right size for the area and it has a really fun, casual vibe,” he added. “Sometimes the smaller runs are like that. Sometimes less is more.”