Without entry fees or an official registration list—unnecessary details for the ever-casual annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run in Sarasota, Fla.—tallying precise participation numbers is a challenge for any go-fast boating event organizer. But Ryan Beckley, the man behind yesterday’s eighth annual event celebrating the life of a beloved and respected Sarasota-based racer, estimates that 80 to 100 high-performance V-bottoms, catamarans and center consoles—and 300-plus people—participated in the short 20-plus-mile lunch run to the Blu Mangrove Grill.
All the elements combined for the biggest turnout in the eight-year history of the Joey Gratton Memorial event (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
After last year’s rain out of the boating segment of the event—many participants still came to the lunch stop by car—Beckley and company were looking forward to having a completely successful day. And by most accounts, they got it.
“The weather was perfect and we had a huge turnout of 80 to 100 boats,” said Beckley. “It was a great day.”
Official event/speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden put it more succinctly. “It was packed,” he said.
Yesterday’s event in Sarasota attracted an estimated 80 to 100 high-performance boats.
As it has in previous years, the Gratton happening attracted a healthy contingent of boat owners from the Northeast including New Jersey’s Chris LaMorte in his 36-foot Skater catamaran and Bob Christie in his MTI 340X catamaran. Members of the Gratton family, including Priscilla, the celebrated racer’s wife and mother of their twin sons, Blake and Brock, joined in the celebration.
“Joey is alive and well in spirit,” said Priscilla Gratton. “It was an awesome time with a great turnout—and the weather was incredible.”
The entire Gratton family came to celebrate the beloved offshore racer’s life. (click image to enlarge).
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