This year taught us that our participants are hungry for more. They appreciate an event like this and want a calendar filled with more events where they can use their vessels and enjoy the ocean.
Keen boat preparation and a mean knack for picking a winning hand of cards earned Team Unexpected first place on the podium at the 3rd Annual USVI Stars & Stripes Poker Run. Nineteen boats braved six- to eight-foot seas to participate in this much anticipated powerboating event held on July 3, which saw the fleet circumnavigate the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas with five fun-filled stops along the way.
“Expect the Unexpected,” says Dean Bryan, owner of the champion 38ft cigarette boat, Unexpected. “We finished second the first year and now first the last two years. We did it for the fun, but it’s nice to win.”
In second place was the team aboard Why Fight It, a 32ft Scarab.
“It’s a great way to spend the day with friends and family,” says owner and driver Sherwayne Felix. “We just got lucky at picking the cards.”
Third place finishers, Team Contender aboard their 30ft Contender, were first time entrants.
“Beginner’s luck,” says Crystal LaPlace, whose husband, Frank LaPlace, was behind the wheel.
The day started out as a nail biter because the weather was forecast for rain. However, by starting time at 10am some 40 participants were aboard their vessels and ready to run from host venue, IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande Marina. The Pizza Pi boat in Christmas Cove, off St. Thomas’ east end, was the first stop to pick a card. The weather started cooperating with sun and blue skies by the second stop, in Cruz Bay, St. John, and the day was beautiful thereafter. In fact, teams had a blast at Coki Beach, the third stop, where there was a barbecue lunch waiting followed by a Battle of the Sexes Tug of War – which the women won. Brewer’s Bay, reached after a cruise around the island’s wild west end, was the fourth stop followed by a ride back east to the fifth and final card-picking destination, Abi Beach Bar, on Green Cay. The Awards Ceremony followed back at Yacht Haven Grande.
“Each year is a learning experience for us,” says organizer Guilderoy Sprauve. “This year taught us that our participants are hungry for more. They appreciate an event like this and want a calendar filled with more events where they can use their vessels and enjoy the ocean. Our aim for 2017 is to have a strong representation from Puerto Rico and possibly a team or two from the U.S. mainland; that would be a treat!”
The USVI Stars & Stripes Poker Run is one of only two organized powerboating events on St. Thomas. The other is the Carnival Boat Races in April.
The 4th annual USVI Stars & Stripes Poker Run is set for July 2, 2017.
For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/USVIPOKERRUN
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.