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Small-Boat Poker Run Could Set a Trend

It’s tough to top the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club when it comes to being progressive and proactive in its approach to poker runs. Early on, the club was one of the first to take a hard stance on safety with its “Poker Run 10 Commandments.” Not long after, the group started scheduling its annual Atlantic City Poker Run for Fridays rather than Saturdays to avoid weekend marine traffic.

With its “Black Jack Poker Run” slated for Sept. 4, 2010, it looks like the NJPPC has come up with yet another winner. The event will be limited to a fleet of 60 boats of 28 feet and less. Owners of boats in this size class are often too intimidated by larger, faster performance boats are common poker runs. And some poker-run organizers, for a number of reasons, have minimum boat length restrictions for the events.

“We’ve kicked this idea around for awhile, but we never knew if we’d get enough participants,” said Dave Patanaude, president of the NJPPC, in a telephone interview this morning. “We’d done everything we could to attract smaller boats to our regular runs, like including a 60-mph class and even using pictures of smaller boats in our advertisements for our runs. But everything we tried to get smaller boats to our events met with minimal success—the smaller boat owners told us they felt outclassed, that even 60 mph was too fast and that the runs were too expensive.”

While the price for the run has not been set, Patanaude says, it will be significantly less than the NJPPC’s annual “Roar at the Shore” event, which costs $199.

“We’re getting the word out through the Internet on seriousoffshore.com, offshoreonly.com and speedonthewater.com,” he says. “We think with the price and the size limit, we’ll be able to fill the run. We think it will be a success.”

Apparently, Patanaude isn’t the only poker run organizer with faith in the concept.

“This is a good start for somebody with a smaller boat who wants to get more involved in poker runs,” wrote Stu Jones, owner and founder of the Florida Powerboat Club, in an email to Patanaude. “As organizers, this is the only way we can insure the growth of our sport. Hats off to you and your planning committee.”