For 16 years the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club has kicked off its season with a Poker Run to Atlantic City, but this year took on extra meaning with the run launching the “Atlantic City Festival of Speed.” The three-day event, which began with today’s poker run, hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino, culminates with the Atlantic City Grand Prix offshore race this Sunday.
Extra meaning as well because a majority of club members were hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. While the area continues to dig out, many have just returned to their homes after months of renovation and folks here are ready to cut loose and let off a little steam.
The fleet of 35 boats ranged from Tom Menshouse’s 29-foot Scarab to a 51-foot Outerlimits owned by Tom Tucci. There’s a 40-foot Skater—the former WHM Racing champion that Sal Sciandra converted into an awesome pleasure craft (but left the distinct #5 on the side) and even four center consoles- a growing trend in many clubs.
One such center console, a 34-foot Statement powered by twin 300 Mercury Verado outboard engines, was celebrating a birthday; owner Charlie Amorosi took delivery a year ago this week, “and I wish I had done it four years ago,” Amorosi said. A founding member of the club, Amorosi has owned 11 boats, starting out with a 22-foot Baja and moving up through length and power to a 147-mph 36-foot Spectre catamaran with twin 900 blower motors. As a compromise with his wife, Lois, Amorosi next moved to a 39-foot Velocity with a cuddy cabin, but transferred the motors to satisfy his need for speed and still topped 100 mph.
“The motors kept blowing up, I blew transmissions, lost drives; we were a 50/50 proposition every time we took the boat out and it just wasn’t fun anymore. Not to mention expensive,” Amorosi explained.
Convinced by other club members with center consoles, Amorosi took the plunge and ordered the Statement.
“We love it,” he said. “My wife’s much happier, which makes me much happier. The boat still does 60 to 65, which is just fine, and the ride! Well, you rode in it.”
And, indeed, I did. My first experience in a Statement demonstrated quick planning, easy handling and a stable, solid, comfortable ride. Most impressive; not a rattle, squeak or creak was heard, even cutting through the snot as we left the inter-coastal for the ocean at the treacherous Holgate Inlet. In fact, with the impressively quiet Verados, the loudest noise on the boat was the wind (and the “whoops” from the crew as the photo helicopter went by).
Sandy not only affected the boat count for this year’s event, but the format as well. Because many regular card stops are silted in and inaccessible, three cards were dealt to each team at the start of the event, with the final two to be received at a Saturday brunch. There, club members will be hosting 40 veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project, before taking those soldiers and their families out for an afternoon of boating and an evening reception.
New Jersey residents are hoping for a return to normalcy following their recovery from Hurricane Sandy, and for members of NJPPC, nothing could be more normal than getting out on the water and making a run “down the shore.”
Editor’s Note: The former director of media relations for Mercury Racing, Tony Esposito is a long-time journalist based in Fond Du Lac, Wis. Esposito will provide updates on the Atlantic City Festival of Speed to speedonthewater.com throughout the weekend. To view Tim Sharkey’s complete gallery from the run, click here.