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Miami Boat Show Poker Run Returns To Greatness

Less than two full months into 2019, last week’s Florida Powerboat Club Miami Boat Show Poker Run already looks like a strong candidate—if not an obvious winner—for a “Comeback Event of the Year” award, if such an honor existed. Stuck in the Miami area for a host of reasons last year, the once-popular happening all but died in 2018. FPC president Stu Jones and his loyal members made the best of it, but it was far from a winner for the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based organization.

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Said multi-time FPC Miami Boat Show Poker Run participant Ron Szolack of his new Skater Powerboats 368 catamaran, “It’s always nice to run another boat.” Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix (click image to enlarge).

What a difference a year and a short jaunt through the Upper Florida Keys to a pair of posh destinations—the Marriott Autograph Collection Playa Largo Resort and the Hilton Curio Collection Bakers Cay Resort—in Key Largo, can make, especially for 50 high-performance sportboat, catamaran and center console owners and their crews eager to see the event return to its former greatness.

“Best one so far,” said Ron Szolack, who tackled the run with friends in his new and currently for sale Skater Powerboats 368 catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1100 engines and reportedly capable of reaching 170 mph. “The resort was incredible and so was the weather.

“And it’s always nice to run another new boat,” he added.

That, too, meaning new boats on the run that had been displayed for the first time at the Miami International Boat Show the week prior, contributed to the success of the event. In addition to Szolack’s sexy new 36-footer, several new builds and models made the run including the new six-outboard-engine-powered, 59-foot Cigarette Racing Team Tirranna and a pair of vibrant blue Statement 350 center consoles, one of which is owned by Win Farnsworth, a former fixture on the West Coast go-fast boating scene based out of Colorado and now transplanted—like his Michigan-based friend Szolack—to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area.

“It’s a little West Coast style brought out East,” said Farnsworth of the new 35-footer he ordered through FB Marine Group in Pompano Beach, Fla.

“Everything went great and the weather was superb,” Jones said. “Everyone loved our hotel choices, and the shuttle support made it easy to go back-and-forth between the resorts. We had about 20 boats head down Thursday and 30 more on Friday. On Saturday, we had a really nice raft-up and barbecue on the beach in front of a rock-star pad owned by a friend.”

“There were compliments galore,” he added “It’s all about the venue and the weather, of course.”

With a mix of new models debuted during the Miami International Boat Show and existing catamarans, V-bottom sportboats and performance center consoles, the Miami Boat Show Poker Run fleet was as good as it gets.

A casual break between Friday night’s awards banquet and Saturday night’s poker-hand-playing activities, the Saturday raft-up and beach barbecue ran from the early to late afternoon. That gave participants plenty of free time to explore the area. A group of Skater catamaran owners including Szolack in his new 368, Chris LaMorte and Bill Munyan in their 36-footers, Joey Castellano in his 388, and Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman in Mad Props, Harris’ 32-footer, took advantage of it and made a 100-mile roundtrip lunch run to the Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon.

“I did the Miami Boat Show Poker Run two years ago when it went to Marathon,” said LaMorte, who lives New Jersey but keeps his 36-footer in Sarasota, Fla., for the winter and put in a total of more than 250 miles in his boat during the event. “I really like destination poker runs—it’s fun showing up somewhere by boat. With the two nice resorts this year, it should be good going forward.”

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Saturday’s Faro Blanco lunch-run Skater group (shown here) also returned to Haulover Marina as a fleet (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Chris LaMorte/Speedonthewater.com.

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