Launched 10 years ago today, the Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run in Sarasota, Fla., attracted 100-plus boats for the second consecutive year—and kicked off the first day of the 2021 go-fast boating year in strong fashion. Organizer Ryan Beckley, who credited fellow Sarasotans Lucy Nicandri and Ellen Greenleaf with lending their capable hands once again, worried early in the week that weather might shut down the event as it did a few years ago.
Blake Gratton (behind the wheel) and other members of his family enjoyed the day with Sarasota’s Matt Rice in his 43-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But the forecast improved throughout the week for the 26-mile jaunt from the 10th Street Boat Ramp in Sarasota to Caddy’s waterfront restaurant in Bradenton.
“We had been watching the weather all week,” said Beckley. ““It was a little breezy, but otherwise perfect.
“I counted 85 boats at the docks at the restaurant but there were a bunch that didn’t want to tie up with the group and went elsewhere for lunch, so there were easily more than 100 boats in the run,” he continued. “I saw several license plates on trucks with trailers from Missouri—the Jackhammer team came all the way from there. A big fleet came down from Cincinnati. Someone from Massachusetts brought a really cool vintage 34 Sutphen raceboat.”
While most of the participants had enjoyed the event at least once before, there were some notable newcomers today. Among those was John Cosker, the owner and founder of Mystic Powerboats in DeLand, Fla., and his wife, Robin, who ran a Mystic C4000 catamaran in the event.
Though the early week weather forecast for the Gratton memorial event looked bleak, conditions for today’s event couldn’t have been much better.
“We loved it,” Cosker said. “Now we’re heading to Cape Coral for the Fort Myers Offshore run tomorrow.”
Easily earning “farthest-traveled” honors, Southern California-based high-performance marine insurance man Devin Wozencraft also tackled the event for the first time in his 30-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran. Like Cosker, Wozencraft will join in tomorrow’s Fort Myers Offshore event, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Powerboats.
“For all the places I’ve boated, this is my first time in Southwest Florida” he said. “It’s beautiful and the waterways are really unique over here, but you must pay attention to the navigation polls as there are many shallow areas. Unfortunately, my GPS plotter stopped working at the end of the Key West Poker Run last month, so I had to pay attention to where everybody else was going.
“What a great bunch of people,” he added.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images from the 10th annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run.
As they have every year since the event was started to honor Joey Gratton, a beloved Sarasota-based offshore competitor who died in 2011 after a racing accident in Key West, Fla., several members of the Gratton family joined in the celebratory event.
Said Blake Gratton, one of Joey Gratton’s twin sons, “It’s an incredible event that seems to continue to grow every year—there were a lot of new faces enjoying all the events throughout the week. Unfortunately, we blew a lower unit on our boat during the Munyan Run. But Matt Rice let me drive his 43-foot Skater while he throttled, so that was wasn’t a bad upgrade at all.”
For the Gratton family, the annual event celebrating their beloved patriarch is not to be missed.
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