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Thirteen The Lucky Number For Tampa Bay Poker Run

With 62 registered boats in the fleet and flawless weather and water conditions this weekend, the 13th annual Florida Powerboat Club Tampa Bay Poker Run may well have been the best one yet since it moved from its original St. Petersburg venue to downtown Tampa in 2018. Rough-water dogged the event in 2022 and 2021, and the pandemic shut it down in 2020.

For Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones and company, Tampa Bay Poker Run No. 13 was a charm. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But this time around, the conditions were immaculate and COVID-mandated group-event restrictions were a distant unpleasant memory. Among those who participated was Geoff Tomlinson, the dealer manager for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats in Fort Myers, Fla. Tomlinson was the guest of Jack and Jennifer Cuoto, who purchased a Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console powered by triple Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines through Legend Marine Group of Carrollton, Texas.

“The weather was beyond cooperative—we all know Tampa can be rough this time of year,” said Tomlinson, who has participated in the event several times. “You have to hand it to (Florida Powerboat Club founder/president) Stu Jones and Tampa itself. It really is an amazing venue with docking, hotels and a downtown atmosphere.

“I have to thank the Cuoto family for having me aboard,” he added. “Jack and Jennifer had their two sons with them, and they are truly one of those families that boats together. It was a pleasure watching them enjoy the run and interact with each other.”

Friday’s fun run included multiple stops.

Morning fog delayed the helicopter, which was coming from Clearwater, carrying speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden—who often shoots for the Florida Powerboat Club—on Friday and Saturday morning. But by noon Boden and the club’s videographer were capturing the action.

“Somehow we still managed to gather some great content as we chased down the teams over the 109-mile, five-card-stop course,” Jones said. “We divided the lunch stop into two venues, Hula Bay and Whiskey Joe’s. Each of them was packed with boats, but the logistics worked out.”

Speedonthewater.com sales and marketing manager Shelby Mattingly and her husband, Chris, joined the fleet in their Midnight Express Boats 43 Solstice center console powered by five Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines. The Kentucky-based couple also participated in the 2022 event, so they were well aware of how rough the water could be.

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Conditions for the 62 registered boats in the event were ideal.

“The weather and water, with like one-foot chop, were perfect,” Shelby Mattingly said. “We were able to get up to our top speed.

“The stops for the Friday fun run were amazing, too, and we had so much fun,” she continued. “We also had a blast back at the dock listening to music. And Midnight Express took home the award for best sound.”

Next up for the Florida Powerboat Club is Orange Beach Powerboat Week, May 11-14, in Orange Beach, Ala. In the meantime, Jones is happy to have another successful Tampa Bay Poker Run in the books.

“It was a festive weekend celebrating the powerboating lifestyle,” he said. “And it was the last Florida-based event of the spring season, as we head north to Orange Beach in May.”

Speedonthewater.com sales and marketing manager Shelby Mattingly enjoyed the Tampa Bay Poker Run for the second year in a row.

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