The high winds that led to most of the 50-something MTI high-performance center consoles and catamarans to stay tied up at the Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon, Fla., yesterday laid down overnight. That left participants in the fourth annual MTI Owners Fun Run to the Florida Keys eager to get on the water today, which is exactly what happened with much of the fleet heading south to Key West for lunch and the rest of the boats heading north on short- and medium-distance runs with lunch destinations in Marathon and Islamorada. The boats left the packed harbor in two waves and speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden captured both departures.
Thanks to Bob and Madelyn Christie, speedonthewater.com co-publisher Matt Trulio logged some seat time in an MTI 340X sport catamaran today during the fourth annual MTI Owners Fun Run to the Florida Keys (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Among those who headed south today was South Carolina’s Todd and Debby Campbell, who own an MTI-V 57 center console called Unbridled—one of two 57-footers on hand for the event—and is the key backer of the upcoming Hartwell Lake Poker Run benefitting Meals On Wheels-Anderson (S.C.), which opened registration today. In his MTI-V 57 powered by four Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines, Todd Campbell had more than enough boat to handle yesterday’s conditions but opted to rent a Jeep and drive to Key West for lunch with his wife and a couple of friends.
To return to Faro Blanco, Campbell caught a ride with MTI principal Randy Scism in a 52-foot catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1550 engines.
“Conditions were fine for me and our boat, but I came here to relax,” he said. “Randy brought me back in a big cat and we ran 125 mph—and I was completely comfortable the whole time. I had always wanted to see what that was like. Randy even offered to let me drive, but I said ‘No, that’s over my head.’ When we got back, Randy told me, ‘You know, I really respect you for choosing to stay within your own limits and comfort zone.’”
Like Campbell, many of the participants traveled to Key West yesterday by car, though Scism, his daughter, Taylor, and MTI director of sales and marketing Tim Gallagher arranged shuttle vans for those who were interested and even grouped up participants who still wanted to visit Key West by water in a few center consoles.
After skipping the run to Key West yesterday, Todd and Debby Campbell and their friends were more than ready to get out on the water and headed north with a group to Islamorada (click image to enlarge).
“MTI is second to none,” said Campbell, who also participated in the event last year and the year before and keeps his boat at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami during the winter as part of the Wentzville, Mo., company’s South Florida concierge program. “They had to make accommodations for everyone yesterday at the last minute, and as always they did a first-rate job. MTI is a top-shelf company.
“MTI owners really aren’t a group,” he continued. “I would classify them more as a family. It’s not a ‘you and I’ thing. It’s a ‘we’ thing.”
As it turned out, the two groups that ran the short course to the Islamorada Fish Company in Marathon included well-known members of the New Jersey performance-boating community. Joined by their close Pennsylvania-based friends Bill and Karen Compton, Bob and Madelyn Christie ran their 340X sport catamaran dubbed Jersey Strong, while Tom Toto and his wife, Andrea, were joined by their Garden State neighbors Pete and Debbie Mazzo—as well as a Boston-based couple that has a second home in West Palm Beach—in the Toto’s MTI-V 42 center console.
Both the Christies and the Totos have owned an array of go-fast boats during the years. For the Christies, the 34-footer is their second MTI—their first was a Speed Racer cartoon-themed 44-foot catamaran. For the Totos, the 42-footer is their first MTI.
Asked why he made the move from traditional high-performance V-bottom sportboats to an outboard-powered center console, Toto, who owned several Outerlimits models before he bought his MTI a few years ago, laughed.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the third and final day of the 2019 MTI Owners Fun Run to the Florida Keys.
“I’m getting old and my wife likes it better,” he said. “Actually, I love my MTI. It’s very versatile. The ride is great, the performance is great and the turning radius is phenomenal. MTI is second to none. I really love the boat and the company is so good to work with.”
For Christie, the move to a sport catamaran—at 34 feet it’s the smallest boat he’s owned since the 1980s—has been equally satisfying.
“It’s a small boat that feels like a big boat,” he said. “It feels like I’m driving a 40-foot cat, not a 34-foot cat, and I looked at a bunch of sport cats and drove them. At the end of the day, I was most comfortable in the MTI. It’s a product I’m used to owning and driving.”
At this writing, most of the boats that went north and south today have returned—and the party at the docks is well underway. The final event of the weekend is tonight’s dinner and celebration at the Faro Blanco host venue.