On May 29, hundreds of boaters took part in the 15th annual Leverick Bay Poker Run.
Participants made stops at several venues around the territory collecting cards in hopes of creating a winning hand, while others followed the action just for fun.
According to organizers, 224 boats took part in the Poker Run, with 140 hands played. The event dolled out $16,000 in cash prizes to the top three winners, while $10,000 was donated to the Virgin Gorda Charitable Trust and $1,000 to Virgin Animal Rescue.
“It was a massive event,” said Javier Lopez, of JL Marketing, who helps organize and promote the event.
Boaters from the BVI, the USVI, Puerto Rico, Miami and St. Martin took part in the event.
Ayana Hull, of the BVI, was participating in her first Poker Run. For her, the event was a good reason to get out on the water and have fun.
“We are just along for the fun … I think it is a fashion statement,” Hull said. “All the young girls are in their bikinis with their cover ups. It is about taking pictures and being in the moment. For the guys, I think it’s the energy and rush of being on the water. For the women, it is about dressing up and looking nice.”
On a nearby dock at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour — the fourth stop — Jimmy Bou, of Puerto Rico, sat comfortably at the back of his boat, Predator. He has done every Leverick Bay Poker Run during the last 15 years. Despite the economy, at least 25 boats from Puerto Rico made the trip to the BVI for the event.
Two years ago, Bou was involved in an accident during this event with the boat Red Zone, of St. Martin, due to a mechanical error. Bou and others were hospitalized with serious injuries. However, he said the accident “opened a lot of people’s eyes.”
“People realized that we need to be on the safe side,” Bou said. “After my accident everything has been much better on the safety side. But I am here and the accident didn’t slow me down. This is really a great event and I have to commend Nick Willis.“ (Organizer and Leverick Bay Resort and Marina manager – Ed.).
Karine and Jean Marie Rosemond, of Red Zone, were also back at the Poker Run for the first time since the accident. The owners bought a new boat, Red Zone II, and were honored by the organizers as the official pace boat for this year’s event.
“It is great to have both of these guys back at this Poker Run,” Lopez said. “It just goes to show you how much they love this event.”
He added that there were no accidents this year.
Lopez will now help organize a poker run in St. Martin on July 24. Ultimately, the goal is to create a poker run series with the Leverick Bay event, St. Martin and the USVI. By doing so, the events will be on the Poker Run Association of Americas’ official calendar. The organizer said the BVI can expect more higher-end boats in future poker runs.
“It will become the triple crown,” Lopez said. “That is our vision.”
1. Ameka Hydman, 4 Kings, $8,000 (BVI resident)
2. Ramon Martinez, 4 tens, $5,000 (Puerto Rico resident)
3. Roger Francis, Full House – Kings & Queens, $3,000 (USVI resident)
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.