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New Year’s Eve Bash On Tap For Southwest Florida Performance-Boat Fans

In just four days, Sarasota, Fla., will become the nation’s go-fast boating hotspot thanks to the 10th annual Joey Gratton Memorial Year’s Day Fun Run organized by veteran offshore racer and Kinetic Animation graphics company owner Ryan Beckley. The event attracted more than 100 boats this year, and Beckley is guardedly optimistic that the it will draw a similar response on the first day of 2021.

In advance of the Gratton event, performance-boat enthusiasts typically are on their own for New Year’s Eve. Though Beckley once hosted a small party in his shop, that’s hasn’t happened for a couple of years.

Offshore racer Clyde Petty is producing a New Year’s Eve celebration to raise awareness for the new Florida Offshore Racers Association. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But go-fast powerboat enthusiasts in town and looking for a New Year’s Eve bash will have a party to attend together that night thanks to offshore racer Clyde Petty, who is producing his inaugural New Year’s Eve Party at the Tarpon Bay Grill And Tiki reception room. The cost is $100 per couple and includes live entertainment, special food menus, trolley rides through Sarasota, a fifty-fifty raffle and a champagne toast at midnight.

Though the party happens on New Year’s Eve, it is not affiliated with the Gratton event. But it is open to all participants in town for the New Year’s Day happening.

A portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Suncoast Charities for Children, according to Petty, who is producing the party to raise awareness for the new Florida Offshore Racers Association he launched in October. Petty said he is expecting more than 300 people to attend the New Year’s event. At present, Florida Offshore Racers Association reportedly has 60 members.

According to a description on its Facebook page, the members of the association are “Florida-based teams and racers uniting and becoming one entity for the better of the sport with monthly meetings and yearly parties to be announced.” The group’s goal is “going back to the old, fun way offshore racing is supposed to be with unity and communication teamwork—not hosting any races, just a group of Florida based teams uniting as one group.”

Petty and company will unveil the Dave Peterson Memorial Trophy during the event. “It will be awarded and passed down to a member of the Florida Offshore Racers Association every year,” he said.

The enthusiastic organizer has arranged for a special lodging rate at the Ramada Sarasota Hotel. For party reservations and hotel information, he can be reached at 941-254-0221.

For those who want to stay in the area through the weekend, the Fort Myers Offshore Nor-Tech 30th Anniversary Fun Run is set for January 2. The night before, the Fort Myers, Fla., high-performance center console, catamaran and V-bottom builder is producing a pre-event happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.—with a hosted bar and light appetizers—at the Westin Cape Coral Resort. The event is open to all Nor-Tech owners and Fort Myers Offshore members.

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