Poker runs are not so much about powerboat racing as having a good time on the water. One of the largest is held each Memorial Day weekend in the British Virgin Islands.
The annual Leverick Bay Poker Run is a three-day event that attracts hundreds of boating enthusiasts from around the world. This year’s 13th running drew more than 220 participating boats and more than 2,500 people enjoying the festivities.
When the throttles were slammed down May 25, however, the fun ended quickly for those aboard two boats involved in a high-speed collision.
A video posted by Sir Richard Branson shows that the billionaire behind the Virgin Group had a front-row seat for the crash.
“We headed out in the leading pack with four other boats alongside us, going between 35 and 40 mph. Everybody was whooping with joy,” Branson wrote in a blog post that has since been removed.
“How fast can you go from sheer exhilaration to sheer terror? This fast," Branson posted on his Twitter account.
“Was on the spot for a high-speed boat crash at BVI poker run — glad everyone is OK!” he later posted on his Facebook page.
The collision between the two boats — apparently a Cigarette 38 Top Gun and a Concept 4400 — reportedly happened at the start of the run through Sir Francis Drake Channel from Virgin Gorda to Norman Island.
Nick Willis, owner of the host Leverick Bay Resort, told the local press that a steering failure on the Cigarette boat caused it to turn sharply into the Concept.
“The steering broke, and he had no control over the boat at all and went straight into the [Concept] boat,” Willis said.
Four people were injured and hospitalized as a result of the accident, according to BVI Platinum News.