As proven by this weekly column celebrating the 25th anniversary of Missouri-based Marine Technology Inc., there have been a lot of memorable MTI catamarans to hit the waterways on this planet during the past three decades. One of the most illustrious catamarans to come out of the MTI factory, which also happened to be built close to the midpoint of the company’s boat-building history, is Windship, a striking black, gray, white and dark red 2011-model-year 48-footer powered by one of the first sets of Mercury Racing 1350 engines installed in an MTI.
Georgia performance boater John Woodruff has been running Windship, his 48-foot MTI powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines, at poker runs around the country for more than 12 years and has enjoyed every minute of it. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Although it is very distinguishable in its own right, the boat is so well known because of its fun-loving, big-hearted owner, Georgia native John Woodruff. He’s the main reason why Windship is featured this week, following up the spotlight on Phantom, the 48-footer that was built shortly thereafter Windship, powered by the same engines and had just one owner—Texan Kenny Armstrong, who happens to be one of Woodruff’s closes performance boating friends. The two have done many Florida Powerboat Club poker runs together not to mention events such as the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout and Super Cat Fest in Missouri, the Texas Outlaw Challenge and the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana, which is where the picture above was taken.
Woodruff and his amazing boat—not to mention his Bell 206L LongRanger IV helicopter—have been a mainstay highlight of the radical Super Cat Fest, which Woodruff has sponsored for many years and plans to attend again this year. And yes, he is going to have the helipad dock at Camden on the Lake Resort, the host location for the late-August event that coincides with the massive Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, for on-lookers to check out the boat and helicopter.
As you can see Woodruff and Windship get around—and everywhere they go they make a lasting impact. He did it with me and the Powerboat magazine test team when we got to run his boat in Fort Myers, Fla., at the end of 2010. He was a complete gentleman during our evaluation and even drove the MTI, which ended up making the cover of the magazine, in a freezing-cold morning photo shoot and again later in the day to take a few of the team members who didn’t get to ride in the boat for a “quick blast.”
It’s hard not to smile when you’re hanging out with John Woodruff in his MTI.
Woodruff’s MTI was the first boat the magazine tested with the new Mercury Racing QC4v 1,350-hp turbocharged engines, and needless to say, Bob Teague, Powerboat’s lead test driver for many years, was impressed. Of course Woodruff was as well.
“With these motors it seems like you’re actually letting the engine make horsepower, not forcing it like it seems with other high-performance engines,” said Woodruff in December 2010 after trailering his boat to Florida just a week after getting the boat for an exclusive Powerboat photo shoot and inspection. “I mean, when you drive the boat, you can feel it. It’s a 48-footer and it does not feel like you’re forcing it to go at all.
“I don’t know how fast it will go yet, but I’m not concerned with top-end,” he added more than 12 years ago. “That’s why I put everything in here that I wanted—air conditioning, heating, mounts to carry extra props in the engine compartment, flat-screens and a full cabin. What’s 5 mph when I’m talking about 170 mph? This is a pleasure boat— I’m not out to beat anybody.”
Woodruff also impressed me the next time I enjoyed a relaxing dinner with him and some friends during the Tampa Bay Poker Run some 10 years ago, and then again when I attended the 2016 Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run on his home waters—Lake Lanier—and he and his co-organizer, Beau Renfroe, were extremely gracious hosts.
Having said that, I can’t wait see Woodruff at the Lake of the Ozarks later this summer. Maybe I can even catch a second ride in Windship—a mere 13 years later.
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