Generic filters
Exact matches only

The BVI’s Fastest Growing Powerboat Race – Poker Run! [Photo Gallery]

Poker Run


Words by Dan O’Connor, photography by Todd VanSickle

The slips at Leverick Bay were packed well before the start of this year’s 12th annual Poker Run. As the start of the race neared, Event Organizer and Leverick Bay General Manager Nick Willis radioed to the photographers and videographers in the helicopters above to attempt a boat count; “but they had a hell-of-a-hard time even trying,” he said of the record number of boats. “It had to be something like 160 to 185 boats—maybe more.”

All told, 183 hands were sold, topping last year’s record of 168 hands. The event has quickly become one of the biggest annual nautical draws to BVI waters, attracting a unique group of high-speed powerboat enthusiasts.

Poker Run BVI

This year’s action-packed event raised $7,000 for charity, with $5,000 going to the Virgin Gorda Diabetes Association; $1,000 going to the Animal Rescue and Control of Virgin Gorda; and $1,000 to paint the Senior Citizens Home on VG.

Poker Run brings participants from the BVI and beyond, including a large number of high-power speedboats and cigarettes coming from Puerto Rico and Miami.

Willis attributes much of this year’s success to marketing and advertising exposure. JL Marketing firm, which represented the event this year, took measures to install 100-foot wide neon signs touting the event across “every freeway in Puerto Rico,” according to the Leverick Bay manager.

Poker Run BVI


“It’s the buzz,” Willis said of the attraction to Poker Run. “It’s the best time on the water in the whole of the BVI, loaded with fun people. And when you get them all together, they just have the best time buzzing around, rafting up and enjoying time with each other.

“Next year, we’ve got to get a bigger dock, because at Leverick Bay you couldn’t even see the water there were so many boats,” he said. The roar of a Seaborne Airlines water plane taking off from the North Sound signified the start of the event, even though it could hardly be heard over the rumble of the 1000-plus horsepower engines churning water below.

Poker Run BVI

Tall rooster tails trailed the high-powered machines as they took route first to Scrub Island, then on to Village Cay, Pirates at Norman Island and Rendezvous Bar in Spanish Town before finishing back at Leverick Bay for a final wild card.

After the event, revelers stuck around for 15 models that strutted the catwalk across the Leverick Bay pool.

Below: 2012’s international Poker Run coverage

Former Virgin Gorda resident Joel Brillert traded the bitter cold of Canada for a ticket to this year’s Poker Run—his fourth in five years.

Poker Run BVI

“We battled delayed flights and nasty weather from Toronto to attend this year’s Poker Run and it was absolutely worth the headache,” said the participant, who joined about 30 on the power cat iSpeed. “I wouldn’t miss this event.”

Brillert joined many others who attend the event for the unique opportunity to see a number of different islands and destinations in one rip-roaring swoop.

Willis, who spoke animatedly about the event, said he expects the event to continue exponential growth, especially if the Poker Run associations in the States begin to attend in coming years.

“In 2002, our first year, we had 12 boats, and every year we’re just getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “I’ve always said, if we get less boats than the year before, I’ll stop [Poker Run]. But we always have more boats than the year before—it’s like we’ve created a monster.”

The Poker Run will return on Sun May 25 2014 – http://www.pokerrunbvi.com/

Below: See Gallery by photographer Todd VanSickle

Erin Paviour-Smith

Latest posts by Erin Paviour-Smith (see all)

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter!