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Gratton Memorial Fun Run Faces Challenges

Heading into its seventh year today, the annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run faced a couple of major hurdles that came in the form unseasonably cold and blustery weather in Sarasota, Fla., and a solo-boat incident that sent four people to hospital. While details of the incident are unclear at this time, multiple sources have confirmed that it involved a 36-foot Skater catamaran owned and operated by seasoned performance boat enthusiast and former offshore racer Matt Rice.

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Thanks to poor weather conditions, photo opportunities were few and far between during today’s Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

No life-threatening injuries were reported from the incident.

Even without the incident early in the event, the outing faced weather challenges in the form of rain, wind and fog. “We took off in the helicopter and as soon as we crossed I-75 we hit a thick fog bank that cut our visibility way down,” said photographer Pete Boden, who was shooting today’s event. “The airport went on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) so there really wasn’t much we could do. And there weren’t many boats to shoot, anyway.

“There were probably 70 or so people at the (event host venue) Blu Mangrove restaurant, but most people came by car,” he continued. “There were maybe 10 boats at the docks.”

Organizer Ryan Beckley had planned on having 70 boats—and three to four times that number of people—at the watefront restaurant.

“It’s been a long day,” said a clearly weary Beckley. “We’ve had a lot of good days at this event, even before it became the memorial for Joey Gratton, but this wasn’t one of them.

“We had three really good days of boating before today,” he added. “Today just wasn’t our day.”

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