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Celebrating Life And Legacy In Key Largo

On Christmas Day 2020, Rey Marino delivered a 30-foot Hellkats Powerboats catamaran he built to his friend and fellow Miamian Mike Alonso. The boat was a bare hull in need of rigging and completion of its interior.

The delivery was a surprise to Alonso, a mechanic by trade who had ordered the 30-footer months before it arrived at his home. He had no idea it was coming.

Finished in time for this weekend’s Keys Island Runners Rey Marino Memorial Fun Run in Key Largo, Fla., this 30-foot Hellkats Powerboats catamaran was a true labor of love.

“Rey helped me out, big time,” Alonso said. “I put down a $5,000 deposit to start and made payments along the way.”

Alonso paused for a moment. “He delivered it right to my front door,” he said.

Though he was eager to get the boat on the water, Alonso had no set timeline for the project. He would fund it as his finances allowed and he was fine with that. But he did have at least one invaluable asset, his longtime friend—and mutual Marino friend—Shaun Torrente of Shaun Torrente Racing in Cape Coral, Fla. Torrente agreed to rig the boat with its Mercury Racing 400R outboard engines as time allowed.

On November 10, 2021, the 36-year-old Marino died in a nighttime boating accident in Miami. Torrente and Alonso were devastated by the loss. Both were true believers in Marino and his vision for Hellkats Powerboats, which in just a few years had performance boat lovers in Florida and beyond buzzing about his new 30- and 32-foot aggressively priced high-performance catamarans.

“Two days before Rey passed, he called me and asked me to set up the boat for him,” Torrente said. “I said, ‘I can do it, but it needs to be over here now. Let me see what I can do.’ ”

Taken too young, Rey Marino was a rising star in the high-performance catamaran-building world.

Now in Dubai for F1 H2O tunnel-boat racing competition, Torrente—a two-time world champion in the series with the Abu Dhabi team—wedged rigging, setting up and testing the cat between an array of ongoing projects at his thriving shop. And he got it done in time for this weekend’s inaugural Keys Island Runners Rey Marino Memorial Fun Run and Raft-Up in Key Largo.

“I know the numbers, I knew what the boat was supposed to do with the power it had,” he said. “It went 118 mph right away. I adjusted a few things and then it ran 124 mph.”

Torrente paused to gather himself. “It didn’t make sense—it was incredible,” he said. “It felt like the boat was being pushed along.”

Whether that happened by divine intervention or efficient hull design combined with expert rigging handled by a guy who knows how to find every last mile per hour, Torrente was ecstatic with the result. He shared a similar background with Marino, that of growing up in South Florida without a lot of resources save for a work ethic that wouldn’t quit and endless drive to succeed.

In Marino, Torrente found a kindred spirit.

“Part of the Miami culture where I grew up is what I call ‘crabs in a bucket,’ ” he said. “As soon as you start having some success, the people who were around you before and saw you come up start talking crap about you and attacking you. I told Rey, ‘Don’t worry about it. Keep going, it’s very normal.’

“Then he passes and all these same people are talking crap are saying how much they loved him and this and that,” he continued. “Man, that is frustrating.”

Said Mike Alonso (above), “Rey was the true American dream.”

Torrente recalled asking Marino why he often tested his boats after dark, and warned him against it.

“I told him it was too dangerous,” he said. “Rey said, ‘I have to test at night because if people see the boat running and it’s not perfect they’ll talk shit.’ I told him it doesn’t matter what they say. And now this.”

On Tuesday, Alonso drove to Torrente’s shop and picked up his new boat. With the cat in tow, he drove Torrente to Miami International Airport and dropped him off for his night flight to the Middle East.

Alonso will run the boat tomorrow in the Rey Marino Memorial Fun Run. Keys Island Runners founder Daniel Garcia, III, expects more than 100 boats show up for the event.

“I have a feeling this is going to be our largest event yet,” he said. “A lot of people new people will be coming to show their respects for Rey.”

“Honestly, a man is just a man and you can only do so much while you’re here,” Torrente said. “But you can leave behind a legacy. In just three years, Rey—a newcomer to the industry—built 10 to 12 boats. His friend, Mike Alonso, will get to run a boat he built. That is part of Rey’s legacy, and it will live on.

“It was fun to help my friend, Mike, achieve what he never thought he could—to own a new high-performance catamaran,” he added. “We need to raise each other up, not pull each other down.”

Added Alonso, “Rey was the true American dream—you come to this country, and you build something.”

In its first test session, Mike Alonso’s 30-footer reached 124 mph with twin Mercury Racing 400R outboard-engine power.

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