Florida Powerboat Club‘s premier event, the Key West Poker Run, will kick off on Wednesday with the first of two departure days from Miami to Key West, according to the group’s leader, Stu Jones. The event encompasses six days of fun, sun and speed.
Jones told Powerboat Nation that about 70 teams are expected to run on Wednesday, with an additional 195 teams enjoying the adventure for the Thursday run. “These numbers are epic in proportion to previous years for this 27-year event, and we are very thankful to all the FPC members and our featured sponsors, who continue to support this event every year,” Jones said.
He added that the strong economy, coupled with the general growth in the performance boating sectors, has caused the popularity of poker runs to grow exponentially. “People are finally starting to get it—that poker runs are fun, full of adventure and camaraderie, and there’s no better way to enjoy the powerboating lifestyle than to do poker runs,” he said. “The Key West Poker Run, beyond any other experience, captures that true spirit of performance boating. It’s a great platform to see the Florida Keys and really enjoy a few bursts of adrenaline. You get to meet people from all around the world and watch the powerboat races all in one bang-up weekend.”
One major challenge of FPC’s growth is dealing with the huge amount of participants. For example: What venue can serve so many people lunch at one go? “We’re happy to report that we figured out the solution,” Jones said. “With so many boats on the Thursday run, it just amounted to finding good lunch stops for some of the larger manufacturers. So what we’ve done is, the Nor-Tech owners will have lunch at Sundowners in Key Largo. Meanwhile, Cigarette owners will have lunch at the Playa Largo Resort in Key Largo. And the majority of MTI owners have decided that the Faro Blanco Resort would be their chosen lunch stop. That represents more than 100 boats that have selected to go to those three locations, and takes care of half of the fleet right there.”
In other venue news, Jones said that the popular Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo have had their docks redone and are capable of accommodating larger groups, especially in conjunction with using the docks from the Anchorage resort next door. “There’s a few hundred feet of docks across the canal between those two locations, and they can accommodate at least 80 boats,” Jones said. “That’s going to take care of the bulk of our lunch needs going down on Thursday.”
Well-planned safety management is paramount to the success of any large-scale poker run event, and FPC will has recruited all of the major law-enforcement agencies to patrol and support this effort, including USCG, Florida FWC, City of Miami, Miami Beach and Bal Harbour marine patrols to join in this effort. Once again, Miami Dade Fire Rescue will have a strong presence on the course, with their Fireboat Fleet, along with MDFR rescue teams on board volunteer boats. Jones extends his thanks to Team SeaKeeper, which will be joining the Safety Management effort, by volunteering the SeaKeeper Boston Whaler to transport a rescue team for the Wednesday Run.
With a record number of 265 registered teams, and all the leading manufacturers on board to support this event, Jones asks the general boating public and non-participant boaters, to please understand that FPC has reserved “special event” docking at all of the major waterfront restaurants in Key Largo and Marathon, and we will be posting signage at those locations. “We need these facilities to support our poker run logistics during peak times of noon to 2:30 p.m. at these key locations, and ask for your cooperation as we move this massive fleet from Miami to Key West,” Jones said.