Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Florida Powerboat Club with a pair of Mercury Racing 565 engines.
Nobody would ever accuse Stu Jones of going Hollywood but when the impresario of the Florida Powerboat Club needed a theme for his latest re-power project, he found it in a movie theater.
“After we saw Top Gun: Maverick this summer, I thought we had a perfect tie-in for the re-power of a Cigarette Top Gun and a high-performance flight theme would be a lot of fun,” said Jones. “We were re-powering with a pair of Mercury Racing 565 engines and that adds up to 1130 horsepower, which sounds like an airline flight number. And of course, I always try to fly nonstop.”
The result is Flight 1130 Non Stop, the second re-power of the Cigarette Top Gun 38 Jones uses for a chase boat at FPC events and as a personal fun boat. The boat was completely refitted in 2019 with Mercury Racing 540 engines and DTS controls, Bravo One XR Sport Master outdrives and Integrated Transom Systems (ITS) – an effort that was named Project 1080 by Jones and Mercury Racing. The resto-mod project was completed with a major overhaul of the cockpit and cabin, custom paint and dash modifications. The boat was finished just in time for the 25th anniversary of the founding of FPC, the promoter of some of the top poker run events in North America.
With the 30th Anniversary of FPC on the horizon, Jones decided to update the boat he also takes around the country to promote the organization. Out with the 540 engines and in with a brand-new pair of 8.7-liter V8 Mercury Racing 565 engines, along with new Bravo One XR Sport Master drives and ITS, plus an upgrade to 380 K-Plane trim tabs – another thoroughly modern power update for a classic powerboat.
Running with the same set of 28 pitch Mercury Racing Bravo I props used on Project 1080, Jones is more than happy with the new powertrain.
“We’ve got about 30 hours on the new engines, which made two round-trips during the Key West Poker Run in November and have seen better performance all-around,” said Jones. “With a half-tank of fuel, I’ve seen a top speed of about 78 mph, which is 7 mph faster than the boat ran previously. We’ve sent the props back to Racing to get them labbed so we know we are as dialed in as possible.”
The Cigarette also got a complete cosmetic make-over.
“I was actually thinking about selling the boat and had stripped off the old graphics,” explained Jones. “This turned out to be the perfect surface for a wrap, a new option for us. Our first stop was a visit with Burl Cole at Ft. Lauderdale Boat Wraps, who in turn suggested we hire Ryan Sandovall at Glarb Design Studio to create a custom design for the wrap. He came up with an incredible design in just a week that has the look of a worn aluminum fighter jet fuselage and incorporates a new FPC 30th Anniversary logo that marries the movie logo with the Cigarette Top Gun and Mercury Racing logos.”
After installation by Boat Wraps, the wrap was protected with a ceramic coating.
“The coating actually prevents salt water from clinging to the wrap,” said Jones, “and the wrap is much easier and less expensive to repair than paint. Dock rash happens, of course.”
Jones says the FPC schedule of all-inclusive poker run events will remain mostly unchanged for the 30th Anniversary season in 2023. But we are likely to see Stu and wife and business partner Jackie Jones at other events in 2023. Their summer travel to poker runs around the country has been curtailed the past few seasons due to the Covid pandemic but the couple plans to hit the road with vengeance this summer, with Flight 1130 Non Stop in tow.