By Any Means Necessary – Florida Powerboat Club Fleet Safely Returns to Key West

With Subtropical Storm Nicole threatening to ruin the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run’s 30th anniversary, attendees had to get creative if they wanted to be there. Wednesday’s departure was off-limits and Thursday’s waters were sloppy to choppy, depending on who you asked and what boat they were on for the 200-plus mile trip.

Danny DeSantis said the 2022 Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run was a breeze in his Skater 426 catamaran. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

For Skater Powerboats 426 catamaran owner Danny DeSantis, who visited on Thursday, most of the race was a breeze, with a fun little kicker at the end.

“It was perfect, two to three feet inside,” he said. “The outside was solid five to six feet, but I like this.”

For Ron Szolack and Todd Fountain, the key to success was leaving early in the week and setting up base camp at Marathon. Photo courtesy/copyright Ron Szolack

The weather picture started to look grim on Monday, leading Ron Szolack and Todd Fountain – two Michigan natives who spend a lot of time in Florida – to take a different approach with their 42- and 41-foot Cigarette Racing Team center consoles. They left early that day.

“We stopped at Hawks Cay Resort on Monday and stayed there until Wednesday morning,” Szolack explained. “Then we raced from there. It wasn’t difficult at all, just two feet.

Nor-Tech takes a different approach to this year’s Key West Poker Run.

The Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats team members and some of their customers left their boats at home and arrived on the party bus. Still others chose to tow their boats to Key West. “Of the 290 boats we had registered, I bet we probably ended up with 150 that went down on their own bottom.”

Among those towing their boats was Stephen Miles of Stephen Miles Design in Owensboro, Ky. Miles and his wife, Heather, towed their MTI 340X catamaran to Key West. But more than the rough water forecast, a potential mechanical problem motivated him to tow his car.

Size mattered more than usual at this week’s Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run.

And coincidentally, this is an excellent choice.

“I had a message on my Mercury monitor and just wanted Lee Murray of Murray Marine in Key West to take care of it with a shift actuator,” Miles said. “It turned out that I had a burnt out engine.

“But I’m still the luckiest guy in the world,” he continued. “Lee Murray had a Verado 350 outboard with 90 hours for sale. So I bought the motor, ripped the powerhead off and swapped it with mine, put my ECU in and…boom.

It is better to be lucky than good sometimes. Ask Stephen Miles.

Of course, the traditional Key West Poker Run spectacle continued. According to Jones, about 120 boats sank on Thursday and another 30 came in Friday’s surge, which was added to help compensate for Wednesday’s departure cancellation.

“The weather was much better on Friday,” Jones said. “It was still a bit windy, but the conditions were nice.”

Enjoy more action at the 2022 Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run.

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