As the annual kick-off event for the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club’s season, the Atlantic City Poker Run will have a little company this year thanks to the New Jersey Offshore Powerboat Racing Association.


In conjunction with a well-known poker run and a day of boat rides for injured veterans, offshore powerboat racing will return to New Jersey this summer. Photo by Tim Sharkey.

The run, which usually attracts 50-plus high-performance boats and goes from Toms River to Atlantic City, will happen as usual on a Friday, meaning June 21 this year. And on Sunday, June 23, raceboats from the Offshore Powerboat Association will take to the waters off Atlantic City to battle it out in what organizers are calling the New Jersey Offshore Grand Prix.

The race is the brainchild of Dave Patnaude, the director of the New Jersey Offshore Powerboat Racing Association and president of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club; Ed “Smitty” Smith, the president of the Offshore Powerboat Association, and Tom Pohlman, the executive vice president of and general manager of the recently remodeled and refurbished Atlantic City Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.

“This whole thing kind of started when we took Tom Pohlman of the Golden Nugget on last year’s Atlantic City Poker Run,” said Patnaude. “Tom is a powerboat enthusiast and an avid offshore racing fan, and he rode with Gary Goodell in the Miss GEICO Cigarette. We talked about bringing offshore racing back to Atlantic City, worked on it for a while with Smitty at OPA, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The last offshore race scheduled to happen in the area was in summer 2010. Dangerous conditions that included 20-foot seas forced officials to cancel the event.

Between the poker run on Friday and the offshore race on Saturday, the NJPPC will host a day of high-performance powerboat rides for “Wounded Warriors,” meaning injured veterans in the area who are interested in getting out on the water in a go-fast boat.

“This is not unlike the Shore Dreams for Kids program that the NJPPC is involved with every summer,” said Patnaude. “It’s one of the ways the club gives back to the community, and we’re really looking forward to incorporating the rides for wounded warriors into our event.”