Looking back at last week’s Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run, New York’s Chris Richards kept things simple.
“It sucks when it all ends,” said Richards, who brought his Mystic Powerboats C4400 catamaran and 48-foot Sea Ray Sundancer sport yacht to the event. “It’s always amazing.”
Saturday’s Woman Key raft-up was a spectacular diversion ahead of the night’s celebration in the Poker Run Village. All photos courtesy/copyright of the Florida Powerboat Club.
That this description came from Richards is particularly telling given his odyssey just getting to Key West. The Long Island resident and his friends headed down with the club’s Friday group, which was assembled after subtropical storm Nicole forced the cancelation of Wednesday’s planned departure. A few mechanical Guardian gremlins with the catamaran’s Mercury Racing 1350 engines put Richards and company behind, so much so that they had to find a marina in the Lower Keys to dock the boat rather than run the 44-footer in the dark.
From there, they caught a ride to Key West and stayed the night. They returned on Saturday morning to run the cat for the final leg to Stock Island, where they kept both boats—Richards hired a captain to bring down the Sea Ray—at the docks behind the Perry Hotel.
“It was an adventure for sure,” he said, then laughed.
Running his Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats SV 50, North Carolina’s Brian Forehand was among the Florida Powerboat Club members who made the Saturday run to Woman Key.
But Richards and his friends, several of whom simply flew to Florida’s southernmost city for the weekend, didn’t have much time to regroup. By noon on Saturday, they were at Woman Key with both boats for the Florida Powerboat Club raft-up. So, too, was Maryland’s David Landsman, who traveled to Key West on his brand-new 43-foot Midnight Express center console early last week.
“Woman Key was great,” he said. “It was a little rough for the raft-up, but we did get seven or eight Midnights all tied up together. We had to leave around 3 p.m. for the Florida Powerboat Club dinner that night, but it was all good times.
The Saturday happening was devoted to simply chilling out and enjoying the view.
“The Poker Run Village was packed,” he added. “Every year it seems to get bigger and better. And we had our boat—I just took delivery of it last Tuesday before we headed down—front and center at the sponsor docks in front of the Conch Republic restaurant.”
In short, the 30th annual Key West Poker Run delivered a slightly different adventure for everyone involved, not the least of which was Florida Powerboat Club president Stu Jones. Thanks to the storm, his entire week became a fire-drill of trying to make sure everyone who wanted to be there—and Jones said he had very few cancelations—could be there.
The club’s Saturday night festivities included poker-hand play, the traditional Florida Powerboat Club President’s Choice awards and more than $30,000 in cash prizes from sponsors. Unlike much of rest of the event, it went off without becoming an adventure.
Enjoy more images for the 30th annual Key West Poker Run in the slideshow above.
On Sunday with much of the fleet headed back to Miami and other points northward, Jones could finally relax with his wife, Jackie, and several friends.
“We enjoyed a much-deserved wind-down yesterday and got to together with some club members at the Hyatt in Key West to watch the powerboat races,” he explained. “It was beautiful day and a fitting time to exhale and try not to think about some of the hurdles that we had to overcome in the last several days.
“In the end, it was what we always do, which led to a productive result and a lot of smiling faces,” he added. “Our poker run teams and sponsors celebrated the culmination of the 30th annual Key West Poker Run. It’s an event that will surely be memorable to organizers and participants alike for many, many years to come.”
The 30th annual Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run will not be forgotten anytime soon.
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