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Photo Essay: Playing Rough At The Tampa Bay Poker Run

Before we left the docks behind the waterfront Marriott Hotel in Tampa, Fla., yesterday, my host for the day—a cherished friend who prefers to remain nameless in all things public—pulled me aside.

“How do you feel about just going straight to the lunch stop if it’s rough?” he said as we stood in front of his pretty MTI 390X catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines.

Nod. Smile. Fist bump.

Despite the drenching they were about to receive, this center console crew was all smiles. Photos by Pete Boden copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

And so, after putting up with a mild to moderate beating in Tampa Bay on our way to a quick turnaround at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, we found ourselves early to lunch and snagged a table in the shade.

Don’t misunderstand. I encourage and applaud those brave and rugged souls willing to run hard in rough water, if for no other reason than it helps produce great images for Pete Boden, speedonthewater.com’s chief photographer. But like my host for the day, a man of a similar vintage to my own, I have zero interest being one of them.

Enjoy more images from yesterday’s Florida Powerboat Club Tampa Bay Poker Run in the slideshow above.

Call it an age thing. Call it cowardly. Call it whatever you want.

I call it sitting in the shade, sipping ice-water and listening to the rough-water war stories of those who experienced yesterday’s 70-plus-boat Florida Powerboat Club Tampa Bay Poker Run. Most of those tales ended the same way Georgia’s Craig Ackerman, who is stepping up from his MTI 340X to a 390X this year, ended his.

“We took a beating.”

Or there was this from Jimmy McIntyre, a notoriously fearless dude from the Northeast who ran Johnny O’Loughlin’s 39-foot MTI cat.

“I thought one of our engines fell off.”

The beatings were not, however, brand-specific. Almost everyone who arrived at the lunch, or endured the excruciating launch-ramp haul-out cluster at the end of the day in advance of a fast-approaching weather front had a war story of sorts. A Skater Powerboats catamaran owner reported having a wave come “completely over” his bow at a card stop. A couple of passengers who rode in a 36-foot Deep Impact center console reported being “completely soaked” for much of the run.

Ice-water in the shade never tasted so sweet.

Getting wet and staying that way was the order of the day.

Editor’s Note: Look for a complete story on the 2021 Florida Powerboat Club Tampa Bay Poker Run in the next issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.

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