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MTI At 25—Pass Blocker And The Art Of Going Bigger

Completed in the fall of 2013, the Pass Blocker MTI catamaran was hard to miss. First, it was a big boat, one of the first canopied 52-footers built by the Wentzville, Mo., company. Second, it had large—as in see-it-from-space—New York Giants football helmet graphics on its hullsides.

The Pass Blocker MTI catamaran made a big impression every time it hit the water. Photo by Jay Nichols copyright Naples Image

The helmet was a nod to owner Brad Benson’s career as an NFL defensive lineman, which included earning a Super Bowl ring in 1986 with the Giants. The Mercury Racing 1650 engine-powered beast actually was Benson’s second MTI to carry the Pass Blocker handle. His first was a 48-footer.

The boat topped out at 185 mph.

“Right now, Brad has the fastest poker run pleasure boat we’ve ever built,” said Randy Scism, the owner and founder of MTI, at the time. “We have a two-seat raceboat that might be a little faster, but that’s an all-out raceboat. This is a pleasure boat.”

In February 2015, I rode with Benson and the late Tom Healey of Marine Unlimited in Pass Blocker for the first leg of the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run. It wasn’t my first experience in a canopied boat, but it was my first in one with a roll cage, six-forward facing bucket seats—each with its own five-point restraint system—emergency oxygen and canopy and tunnel escape hatches. Everything about it was impressive, and Healey and Benson were consummate hosts.

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The author experienced Pass Blocker firsthand with owner Brad Benson and Tom Healey during the 2015 Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run.

I don’t recall how long it took us to get from Miami to Gilbert’s Resort and Tiki Bar in Key Largo, where we were among the first few boats to arrive, but I do remember hitting 176 mph on the way. I also recall missing the heck out of the protection from the elements the 52-footer provided when I hopped on a 36-foot center console with speedonthewater.com’s Jason Johnson for a wet and windy ride the rest of the way to Key West.

Eventually, Benson exited the high-performance powerboat world and he sold the boat to Michigan/Florida-based go-fast boat collector Ron Szolack. Mark and Britney Godsey of Chattanooga, Tenn., purchased the 52-footer in 2019. The former owners of Project Mayhem, an open-cockpit 38-foot MTI cat, the Godseys had the hullside graphics removed to make in their own.

“The size and speed was the best for sure,” Mark Godsey recalled. “And it definitely was fun to get in, turn the air-conditioning on and pull up to a stop fresh looking good. Britney loved it. She never had to put her hair up.

“The suspension seats when you’re rolling were awesome, too,” he added. “The 52 would eat up any water you came across.”

Pass Blocker remains among the fastest pleasure boats ever built by MTI.

The Godseys, who now have an outboard-powered MTI 390X catamaran, owned the boat for two years. The cat currently is owned by South Carolina’s Richard Bennett. No stranger to large MTI creations, the longtime MTI client took delivery of an MTI-V 57 center console set up for deep-sea angling in 2017.

Editor’s note: “MTI At 25” is a weekly series on speedonthewater.com celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary. A new installment will go live every Wednesday on speedonthewater.com through the end of the year.

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