Reviving approximately 265 go-fast boating enthusiasts from their holiday food-and-football comas, Fort Myers Offshore produced the fourth event of its 2019/2020 season today with its New Year’s Fun Run to Marco Island. Though Tim Hill, the president of the Southwest Florida-based nonprofit scholarship fundraising club, had expected upward of 70 boats to show up for the run and 58 boats actually made it, the number of participants set a record for the event. That translated to a passenger-filled fleet of high-performance center consoles, V-bottom sportboats and catamarans.
Former FMO president Eric Belisle hosted Shaun Torrente, who recently notched his second tunnel-boat world championship in as many years, Torrente’s wife, Flavia, and a few other guests on board his MTI catamaran today (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Among the cat owners who enjoyed the 90-mile-roundtrip jaunt from the Sanibel Island Bridge to lunch at CJ’s On The Bay on Marco Island was Chris Ryder, who owns a 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, Chris LaMorte, who ran his 36-foot Skater with Ryan Beckley, and the father-and-son duo of Bill and Jack Munyan, who ran a new Skater 368 they purchased from Ron Szolack of Michigan during Skaterfest in August. All three Skater owners, none of whom are FMO members, are in town for the upcoming Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun, which is celebrating its ninth year and is produced by Beckley, up the coast in Sarasota.
“Chris Ryder helped get them all down here by rallying the Skater nation,” said Hill, who ran his Sunsation 32 CCX.
“It was a really nice run,” said Beckley. “They did two starts, one for the faster boats and another for the center consoles, and they had a nice spread at lunch. It was a very well-organized event—the organizers did a great job.”
Former FMO president Eric Belisle hosted a go-fast boating world celebrity on his MTI catamaran as his longtime friend Shaun Torrente, fresh from his earning his second consecutive F1 H20 World Championship with Abu Dhabi tunnel-boat racing team, joined Belisle and his other guests for the day. Florida Powerboat Club president Stu Jones, another go-fast powerboating world notable, his wife, Jackie, and their two teenage sons ran their Project 1080 Cigarette 38 Top Gun all the way across the state to participate in the run.
The Jones family literally ran their 38-foot Cigarette across the Sunshine State from their home in Pompano Beach to enjoy today’s FMO happening in advance participating in the ninth annual Joey Gratton Memorial Fun Run next Wednesday in Sarasota (click image to enlarge).
As for the run itself, save for a few raindrops on the post-lunch return leg, conditions were flawless, according to Hill. “It was incredible. And the lunch stop was packed.”
Though the final numbers aren’t in, Hill said he’s certain that the event—the second “designated fundraiser” of the 2019/2020 season, brought in a “record” amount of money thanks its 50/50 raffle, apparel sales and direct donations. And thanks to an impromptu plan created this afternoon, the FMO New Year’s happening will continue tomorrow.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images from today’s event in Southwest Florida.
“A few folks who came are staying the night, so we have organized a small fun run tomorrow to Cayo Costa Beach,” said Hill.
Next up on the FMO schedule is its fun run to the Naples (Fla.) Hyatt on January 25.
As it does in all FMO events, locally based Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats had a heavy presence in today’s run.