More than 750 participants from United States, Canada, and across the globe, converged on Miami to participate in Florida Powerboat Club’s signature event, voted Best Poker Run in the Nation by Powerboat Magazine readers for the second year in a row. Commencing Tuesday Nov 8th and running a full (no-rain) week through today, over 170 powerboat teams explored the 165 mile poker run course from Miami to Key West, with Thursday being the busiest departure, at over 100 registered boats. The amazing lineup of high-performance hardware included gas, diesel, outboard, and turbine powered boats of all descriptions…as they weaved through the bay waters and winding mangrove canals in the upper Keys, and rafted up for lunch stops like Gilberts Key Largo, and Holiday Isle Resort, Islamorada.
With the final group of about dozen boats arriving in Key West Harbor Friday afternoon, the Poker Run Village at the Conch Republic Seafood company was already buzzing with excitement, where more than two dozen exhibitors displayed the latest in marine hardware, new and used powerboats, performance engines, top-of-the-line custom haulers, and exotic cars. Presenting Sponsor Mercury Racing featured their factory mobile marketing semi tractor trailer with new Mercury Racing 1100Hp and 1350HP engines on display, and official Mercury Racing merchandise. More importantly, the top executives from Mercury Racing’s Fond du Lac headquarters, were on hand to speak with FPC participants and poker run spectators.
President Fred Kiekhaefer arrived early in the week, and was able to ride in the all-new Cigarette Marauder, piloted by new FPC member and South Florida business icon John Rosatti, who was very excited to attend his first Key West Poker Run. Kiefhaefer commented, ” Its been about three years since I’ve been able to attend the Key West Poker Run, and riding with John Rosati on the mother ship of the Cigarette fleet, powered by a pair of our Mercury Racing 1350’s… well it just doesn’t get any better than that!” After an exciting ride through the Keys, Fred joined his colleagues Jeff Kruger, Rick Mackie, Kevin Skiba and Scott Reichow at the Mercury Racing display in the heart of the Key West Poker Run Village, surrounded by the leading manufacturers, like Sunsation, Nor-Tech, Cigarette and Skater!
Friday night: The festivities kicked off with the Sponsor Appreciation Night, and the Girls of FPC Swimwear Showcase, which featured Miss Key West 2011 Jessica Renee, who had spent much of her day as the event Poker Run dealer, a task that included a bikini card handoff from the docks at Gilberts Resort. As always, the girls of Keys Faces joined in to provide a sensational swimwear showcase on the FPC Stage.
Saturday Night: The big poker run party at the Conch Republic Seafood company gave poker runners the chance to play out their poker cards, for a tremendous line-up of prizes, which included a 2011 Ford Mustang Convertible, which was sponsored by Offleaseonly.com. In addition, more than a dozen coveted Key West Poker Run Peoples Choice awards were presented to participants in a wide variety of categories. Congratulations to Ralph Hitchcock and Ino Halagua who ran in Hitchcock’s 35 Motion cat, and took home the grand prize Mustang with a strong hand that featured (4) nines! Matching off-suit straights required particapants Aldo Waters (OK) and Jeff Long (LA) to square off for a final card drawing, giving Waters 3rd place and earning him a set of OceanLED underwater lights, as Long took 2nd place, awarding him a Garmin GPS Map 5212, sponsored by Superior Communications.
FPC Photo and video coverage of the event reached an all-time high, as three videographers and four photographers utilized a small fleet of helicopters Wednesday through Saturday, to capture all the high-speed thrils. Thursday coverage included three helicopters simultaneously chasing the large fleet of boats as they throttled up on Biscayne Bay. The Saturday photo session captured more than seventy five boats and yachts at Boca Grande for a festive beach party, in spite of the choppy conditions that made it a bumpy ride out to this destination in paradise.
With well over 10,000 photographs captured by the FPC photo crew, the process of sorting has now commenced, and all participants will be receiving their photo proof sets via email, which includes an order form for a free poster print!
Video Coverage: A full length Hi Def DVD will be compiled at the FPC Studio over the next few weeks, and will be delivered (mailed) to all participants by mid- December. If poker run particpants have not completed their video bio form, we ask that they locate the document in their Captains Kit and send a copy to the FPC office as soon as possible.
(via fax 954-782-2452)
There will be extensive reporting about this Signature Poker Run event over the next several weeks, so stay tuned-in to the FPC website and keep your eyes on your Inbox for upcoming email blasts and links to extensive photo galleries as they are added to the website.
THANK YOU TO ALL PARTICIPANTS AND SPONSORS FOR JOINING US
ON THIS FANTASTIC POKER RUN EVENT!
STU JONES & FPC STAFF
Tribute to the late Bob Morgan; J.T Tillman and Joey Gratton.
FLORIDA POWERBOAT CLUB Extends our sincerest sympathy to all of the family members and fellow racers who lost three great racers in the Superboat racing accidents that occured last week. In the 19 years that FPC has been visiting this racing event, the loss of these highly respected members of the racing community, is by far the most tragic series of Key West events that we can ever recall.