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Pulling Off A Massive Poker Run

As poker runs go, the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual trek to Key West in early November is not for the faint of heart. First, it takes all day to make the 170-mile journey from Miami to the nation’s southernmost city. Second, despite that much of the course sticks to the Intracoastal Waterway, the final leg takes the fleet into the Atlantic Ocean, which can be a bit unruly this time of year. And, unless you have a driver pull your trailer to Key West, you get to repeat the journey in the opposite and often-rougher direction when it’s time to head home.

keywestpulloff mattoso

With 260 boats in its Key West Poker Run, the Florida Powerboat Club produced the largest event in its 27-year history—without a serious incident. And that was no accident. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In short, tackling the Key West poker run is a commitment—one that a record-setting 260 high-performance catamaran, V-bottom sportboat and center console owners were willing to make earlier this month.

“We had 270 boats on the roster, but 260 or so actually made it for the event,” said Stu Jones, the president of the Florida Powerboat Club.

With the largest event in the history of his Pompano Beach, Fla., organization on his hands, Jones knew he had to modify his traditional plan, which includes Wednesday and Thursday departures and—in the past few years—two lunch stops for each departure group. Wednesday saw 70-plus boats depart Miami for Key West. On Thursday, approximately 190 boats made the journey.

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