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Looking Back On A ‘4×4’ Weekend In Three Attention-Getting MTI 390X Cats

When Mike and Sarah Howe got the opportunity to run their twin Mercury Racing 450R-powered 390X catamaran from Marine Technology Inc., in four different fun runs in four consecutive days along the Southwest Florida coastline over the 2021 New Year’s holiday, they didn’t hesitate to join their friend, Mikey Boyle, who is from New Jersey and owns a second home in Cape Coral, Fla., in an attempt to participate in the incredibly fun events that have grown tremendously the last few years.

Mike and Sarah Howe ran more than 1,000 miles in Howe 2 Live, their MTI 390X catamaran powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 450R engines, during all four of last week’s fun runs in Southwest Florida. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

Not that there was anything official about the attempt that Mike Howe—the man behind the popular Howe2 Live YouTube channel—dubbed the “4×4” but the Howes set a goal to leave their house in Big Pine Key and run their 39-foot cat almost 200 miles to Sarasota to be a part of the Munyan Lunch Run that precedes the annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run by two days. In between, they did the Around Longboat Key Fun Run and the day after the Gratton Memorial event, they headed south to participate in the Fort Myers Offshore Holiday Fun Run. And, after four full days and a ton of boating and socializing with friends, the Howes headed south and put their boat back on its hoist behind their house.

No easy task—putting hundreds of miles on a boat with or without the latest and greatest engines from Mercury Racing in four days never is—the couple set out to do it all over again this New Year’s, inviting a couple of fellow MTI 390X owners to do it with them this time around. The Howes were joined by Floridians Shaun and Flavia Torrente, who were showing off their brand new 39-foot cat that Shaun Torrente—the world champion F1 driver and offshore racer behind STR—just finished rigging in time for the events, as well as Texan Chris Humphrey and his family in their brand new 39-footer.

Shaun and Flavia Torrente enjoyed running their new MTI 390X catamaran with several friends over several days. Photo by Pete Boden

“In my opinion, there’s nothing like doing four fun runs in four days with such a cool group of people,” said Mike Howe, who founded Howe & Howe—a world-class civil and defense autonomy and armored vehicles manufacturer—in Maine with his brother, Geoff. “We had a great time the year before and enjoyed the challenge of it so we decided to do it again. When you think about it, it’s almost like an enduro because we only used our boat for all four days to get everywhere. It’s a lot of fun, obviously; yet it’s pretty stressful because you could throw a propeller or, worse, break something. Today’s outboard technology is extremely reliable but that doesn’t guarantee anything.

“The schedule around all of the runs was pretty low-key, which is why we like doing them, but there was some added pressure for us to get from place to place,” he added. “We were also filming the whole time so that didn’t help our cause. After day two, we were drained. I looked at Sarah while we were going through another idle zone and said, ‘I don’t know if I can do two more days of this,’ almost complaining about it. She looked at me and said that’s such a first-world problem. She was right, but at the end of the day it was still a lot of work.  But if it wasn’t enduring or pressure-filled, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge.”

Chris and Brandy Humphrey endured the challenging four fun runs in four days in their gorgeous new MTI 390X. Photo by Pete Boden

Howe, who logged a little more than 1,000 miles on the boat during the trip, explained that the adventure was as much about creating experiences that you can’t get by doing a normal fun run or poker run as it was about the overall accomplishment. In fact, he said several of the couple’s friends even did an everglades airboat tour out of Everglades City, which was something they probably wouldn’t have tried on their own.

“It’s all about the experiences—that’s why we do this and that’s why we started documenting our adventures,” said Howe, who called out Pete Boden, speedonthewater.com’s chief photographer, for being a part of the journey by capturing images of all four events—although he was only in the air for two of the runs as helicopter complications kept him grounded on two the days. “The southern west coast of Florida is one of my favorite places to boat and it lived up to the potential this time around. The boat ran great and we didn’t baby it one bit. It’s comfortable, it’s efficient and it’s fast. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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Check out the slideshow above for more images of the Howes and company enjoying last week’s on-water adventures. Photos courtesy Mike Howe and Pete Boden

Torrente, who didn’t have to travel from as far away as the Howes being that his home is in Alva, was glad to have his new boat in the water and to be able to enjoy a little downtime with friends and his wife, Flavia.

“We had so much fun; it was exactly what Flavia and I needed, some relaxing adult time with friends,” Torrente said, adding that they logged 600-plus miles while putting more than 20 hours of running time on the engines. “It had been a grind of a month between all of the racing overseas and getting our new boat finished. But it was awesome and well worth all of the late nights.

“The boat is amazing, I have to give a lot of credit to the team at MTI for making it happen,” he added. “We’ve never built our own pleasure boat—we’ve always had one someone else built that we’ve ended up making our own—so the whole process was a blast. Everyone at MTI was so helpful. Wes (Jones) and Scott (Blessing) were great to work with on the design and overall production. We can’t wait to get more time to use the boat.”

More time doesn’t necessarily mean another enduring four days in row again. Torrente said that is a more of a once-a-year effort when the recently coined “4×4” rolls around again at the end of the year.

All three MTIs enjoyed a moment of rest during the Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run. Photo by Pete Boden

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