People: Stu Jones: A Poker-Run Organizer Looks At 30
Pardon the shameless Jimmy Buffet rip-off in the headline above, but it seemed appropriate given how many hours Buffet’s fellow Florida Keys fan Stu Jones has spent boating in the Florida Keys. The Florida Powerboat Club founder is celebrating his 30th year creating Key West, Fla., experiences for high-performance powerboat enthusiasts from around the country and all over the world, while helping the likes of Cigarette Racing Team, Nor-Tech, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, Skater Powerboats and other big-name builders sell boats.
For 30 years, Stu Jones (left) and his wife, Jackie, have been creating Key West, Fla., experiences for the high-performance powerboat community. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
And yet there hasn’t been much hoopla from Jones and company regarding the Florida Powerboat Club’s milestone anniversary. Even though summer is his slowest time of year—the club produced no events last month—Jones simply has been too busy with long-term projects such as marketing his 48-foot Sunseeker charter boat for self-congratulation and celebration. He’s currently gearing up for the club’s second Bahamas event of the summer, set for August 16-22.
All of which prompted me to call him yesterday and check in. Here’s what he had to say.
You’ve put in 30 years organizing events and in the process you’ve made a significant impact on the high-performance marine industry. Congratulations.
It’s exciting to reach such a milestone—something I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams.
But you don’t seem all that excited about it.
(Laughs) I am, but as far as our events go we’re not doing anything “special” for it, though we will be carrying the 30th anniversary theme, of course, into our Key West Poker Run in November.
That’s the club’s signature event. Anything special happening with that one?
Cigarette Racing Team is returning as the presenting sponsor for the Key West Poker Run. That event currently has a solid roster of 170 teams and may very well hit the magic 300 mark if hotel rooms and transient docking can accommodate the enthusiastic teams that typically come from around the globe.
Having Cigarette Racing Team back as our presenting sponsor for the second year in a row punctuates the fact that I decided to keep my Cigarette 38 Top Gun. And with a new partnership from Mercury Racing, we’re proud to be launching a re-powered 38 Top Gun featuring the Mercury Racing 565 engines coupled with Integrated Transom Systems and new XR drives. It’s exciting because this boat represents the continued enthusiasm by powerboaters for the old-school look and sound of powerboats that once dominated the ’80s and ’90s performance-boating scene.
Soon to be powered by Mercury Racing 565 engines, Stu Jones’ Project 1080 Cigarette 38 Top Gun is going to need a new name—and new graphics.
If you look at the Florida Powerboat Club roster of teams, you can see that this old-school mentality is alive and well, and I’m happy to carry that torch alongside my partners Mercury Racing and Cigarette Racing Team. It’s going to be an exciting fall season, but right now I’m focused on six days of power boating in paradise—crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
How’s that event shaping up?
We have a small group of powerboats—less than 20 will participate. That includes the Life Wallet Cigarette 515 sportboat. And Chief Marine Group, Cigarette’s Florida dealer, is bringing three demo boats to join the fun. It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be an exciting fall season with our Destin event and more.
Last question: After 30 years of doing this, how many hours do you think you’ve spent boating the Florida Keys?
(Laughs) Oh my god, I don’t know but I’ll make a wild guess. I have spent about 25 days a year boating there for the last 31 years. That is 775 total days, and I’ll multiply that by 10 hours a day. So, maybe 7,750 hours? (Laughs again)
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