When it comes to MTI products, it’s been a big year for South Florida’s Willy Cabeza. In March, Cabeza took delivery of a new 42-foot center console from the Wentzville, Mo., company. In May, he began his second full season running an MTI 390XR catamaran called GC Racing in the 450R Factory Stock class with veteran throttleman Gary Ballough.
Earlier today, Cabeza and Ballough made their first pass—124 mph for the record—in the canopied 39-footer powered by Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. And earlier this week, as in Wednesday, he took delivery of an MTI 440X pleasure catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 500R outboards. Mark Morris, the creative force behind the famed Visual Imagination graphics shop in Peculiar, Mo., painted the 44-footer.
Powered by 500-hp Mercury Racing outboards, this 44-footer is Cabeza’s third MTI. Photos by Tom Leigh courtesy TNT Custom Marine.
Cabeza ordered the boat through Steven Fernandez at TNT Custom Marine, a longtime MTI dealer in Miami. (Fernandez also set up Cabeza with MTI’s 450R Factory Stock concierge racing program.) The original plan had the boat being delivered at TNT as it was supposed to be completed “a little bit before the Shootout,” Cabeza said, but this week’s delivery at the Lake of the Ozarks worked out better.
“Randy Scism of MTI thought it was a good idea to deliver it here because it’s very close to the factory,” he explained. “That gave us, you know, three or four days of boating in freshwater. That was amazing because you don’t have to clean the boat every day, right?
“So it worked out well,” he added. “And the boat rides phenomenal. It feels really big compared to the 390X. The tunnel packs a lot of air and it rides really smooth. Driving it is effortless. I mean it’s like a Rolls-Royce at 100 mph.”
Cabeza also plans to compete alongside Ballough in tomorrow’s kilometer runs (read the story) following the second day of Shootout action.
“The raceboat is here so why not do everything?” Cabeza said, referring to the fact that his team was recently racing in Sheboygan, Wis., and the boat returned to MTI before its stop in St. Petersburg. Fla., for next week’s P1 Offshore-produced St. Petersburg Grand Prix. “It makes perfect sense.”
Visual Imagination did its usual flawless work with the graphics for Cabeza’s prize.
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