For the better part of last week, Southwest Florida became the epicenter of the go-fast boating universe with a mix of laidback happenings—the Munyan Lunch Run from Sarasota to Tampa on Thursday followed by Friday’s run around Longboat Key—anchored by the 10th annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run. Just one event remained after Saturday’s joyful Gratton celebration, yesterday’s Fort Myers Offshore Holiday Fun Run from the Sanibel Island Bridge to Punta Gorda for lunch at the Village Brewhouse in Fishermen’s Village.
With the biggest turnout of the week, yesterday’s Fort Myers Offshore Holiday Fun Run was the perfect finale to a four-event go-fasting boat event in Southwest Florida. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
And with more than 100 boats, 500 participants and approximately $25,000 raised for the Fort Myers Offshore scholarship fund, the run provided a mostly perfect ending to a fine week on the water for high-performance boat enthusiasts from around the country.
“This is my third year doing this event and it never disappoints,” said Del Flores, the president of the New Jersey-based Spartan Powerboat Club, who ran his Statement Marine 360 catamaran in all four events. “It’s just an all-round good crowd with a lot of positive vibes and excitement over the new year.
“It seemed like there were 200 boats,” he added. “A lot of center consoles and catamarans, and very few V-bottom sportboats.”
Fort Myers Offshore board member Amanda Gardner and her husband, Don, were among the participants.
Of the hefty center-console fleet Flores observed, 34 were of the Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats kind. Nor-Tech was the event’s title sponsor, and as previously reported on speedonthewater.com the Fort Myers, Fla.-based company donated $5,000 to the Fort Myers Offshore scholarship fund.
Company co-founder Trond Schou, chief operating officer Henrik Margård and friends enjoyed the run in a Nor-Tech 460 Flyer, which was the paceboat for the event.
Nor-Tech’s Trond Schou and company had a front-row seat to all the action.
“It was exhilarating to say the least,” said Margård. “Sitting in the pace boat and watching more than 30 Nor-Tech’s ‘chasing’ us gave Trond and me goosebumps. We let off the throttles after we passed the bridge and just watched them roar past us—340s, 390s and cats. It was really special, exciting and rewarding to see all these Nor-Tech’s participating in such a great event.
“Tim and Cyndee Hill and the whole Fort Myers Offshore board really stepped up to the challenge and put on one heck of an event,” he added.
For the Fort Myers Offshore team, “stepping up to the challenge” meant changing lunch destinations just weeks before the event to accommodate a turnout that club president Tim Hill correctly predicted would be a record-setter. At issue was dockage at the original venue—there simply wasn’t enough.
The solution involved two adjacent Fishermen’s Village lunch venues, both with live music, catered by the Village Brewhouse. Though still a tight fit, there was enough dock space to handle the fleet.
“The dockmasters secured the entire Fishermen’s dock for us,” said Hill. “Our captains did an excellent job of being prepared to raft-up as many as 15 boats deep. Village Brewhouse once again hit it out of the park for us accommodating 500 of us in two adjacent restaurants, both of which closed for the day to host our group.
Not an inch of dock space was wasted at Fishermen’s Village on Punta Gorda.
“I noticed that we had a lot more of our Canadian members whom we have not seen in over a year,” he added. “They included Bob Barnhart, our founder, as well as Meghan and Pierre Brousseau and Ken Jensen who happened to win the $2,600 fifty-fifty raffle.”
Like most of the out of the out-of-towners including Southern California’s Devin Wozencraft and Brian and Sandy Hoar of Vermont, Flores is heading home satisfied today. He’ll drop off his 36-foot catamaran at Statement’s St. Petersburg, Fla., facility “for some touch-ups” before driving back to the Garden State.
“Four runs in four days, 1,000 miles on the Mercury Racing 450Rs and they didn’t bat an eyelash,” he said. “Trust me, I ran it hard and the Statement, which I bought for my 50th birthday and ran in the (Florida Powerboat Club) Key West Poker Run, did not disappoint.
“The boating on the west coast of Florida is really the best,” he added.
New Jersey’s Del Flores got the most out of his boating week on Florida’s stunning west coast.
Next up for Fort Myers Offshore is its January 22 Hyatt House-Naples run. But for the next few days, Hill and his fellow organizers can savor the success of an event that capped an incredible go-fast boating week in Southwest Florida.
“We received so many compliments on the event and how smooth everything went, which at the end of the day makes me realize why we put so much time and energy into this,” said Hill. “It was another one for the record books. We are up over 100 members from just 18 months ago and we continue to grow.”
High-performance center consoles comprised at least a third of yesterday’s fleet.
Tenth Anniversary Gratton Run Delivers Flawless Day For Participants From Around The Country.
Fog Puts No Damper On Run Around Longboat Key
Photo Essay: Fifth Annual Munyan Run Has Everything But Munyan
Four Southwest Florida Events To Cap Final Week Of 2021
Commentary: Remembering Joey Gratton
Gratton Memorial Run Celebrates Ninth Anniversary In Style