As he always does—you can set your watch by him—speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden delivered a slew of cool images from the annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run. Morning fog made that a bit more difficult this year, but Boden still managed to capture an assortment of boats in action as they headed to Caddy’s in Bradenton, Fla., to celebrate the memory of Gratton, a popular offshore racer who died in November 2011 following an accident in Key West, Fla.
For Brian and Laura Hice, the 2023 Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run was their first event in their new Predator Powerboats catamaran. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Among those images was one of an outboard-engine-powered catamaran that wasn’t easy to identify by brand—after you’ve looked at a few thousand images of sport cats from DCB, Doug Wright, Mystic, MTI, Outerlimits and so on they get pretty simple to spot. As it turned out, the boat is a 2023 model-year Predator Powerboats 311 Widebody catamaran and owned by Brian and Laura Hice of St. Augustine, Fla.
The Gratton run was the first organized event the couple enjoyed in the 31-footer, which is powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 400R outboard engines and was built at Predator’s headquarters in Patchogue, Long Island, N.Y.
“We had owned some smaller Talon cats and we were in the market for something in the 28- to 32-foot range,” said Brian Hice. “Through word of mouth, I heard about Predator so I called (company owner/founder) Arnaldo Alvarado about a year ago. He said he had been working on the bottom, was filling in the original notch and that it also has a new cockpit design.
“So I took a chance with the ‘little guy,’ he continued. “There are four people working at Predator and they do everything by hand. The build process took a little longer than expected but it turned out great.”
Enjoy a closer look at the Hice’s new 31-footer.
Knowing that he wanted a 28- to 32-foot sport cat and suspecting that the 400R might not be around forever, Hice had purchased a set before he even ordered the boat and had them sitting in their crates as his Northeast Florida home. For electronics, including the cat’s 12-inch Garmin GPS, he turned to Ron Muller at Southwest Florida-based Electronics Unlimited. The helm station is set up with a pair of Mercury Marine 908 VesselView monitors flanking the Garmin screen, all integrated through a C-Zone system. Other goodies include a JL Audio sound system and underwater lighting from Lumishore.
The 9-foot, 10-inch-beam cat has a 62-inch tunnel, and the hull is finished in black gelcoat. Its engines are mounted on brackets from Shaun Torrente Racing.
“It handles great,” said Hice. “And it’s rough-water performance is excellent.”
Brian and Laura Hice will run the cat in their local St. Augustine waters and the St. Johns River this winter.
So far, Hice has run the boat to 118 mph. He expects it top out between 120 and 125 mph as he is still working on the cat’s setup, and he plans to bring it all the way to Marathon, Fla., for the first offshore race—the Race World Offshore-produced April 28-30 inaugural 7 Mile Grand Prix—of the 2023 season.
In the meantime, they’ll be running their new Predator creation on their home-water of St. Augustine and the St. Johns River. The name of the boat is Hice Life.
“That’s because it fits our lifestyle between boats and Laura showing her quarter horses,” Hice explained. “That’s our life, and we are fortunate enough to be able to do both. We are looking forward to many fun runs, meeting new ‘speed on the water’ friends, and fun days with Hice Life in 2023.”
The Hices plan to bring their new catamaran to the late-April Race World Offshore event in Marathon, Fla.
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