Ryan Beckley, the organizer of today’s 10th annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run in Sarasota, Fla., woke up worried. On Thursday and Friday, fog blanketed the area and it was forecasted to return this morning.
“I was afraid to look out the window,” said Beckley, who ran his 24-foot Skater, with his family. “But this morning was sunny and it turned out to be a beautiful day. It was a little windy and a little choppy, but not bad. I thought about taking the raceboat, but the 24 handled it just fine.
“In the parking lot at the launch ramp this morning, I saw a Cigarette on a trailer with Maine license plates,” he continued. “We had a bunch of boats from Cincinnati, a bunch from the Midwest and the Northeast. And with Devin Wozencraft and his 30-foot Skater, we even had one from California.”
At it has for the past 10 years, the event celebrated the life of Joey Gratton, a gregarious Sarasota-based offshore racer who died on November 11, 2011, after an accident in the Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships. Gratton’s twin sons, Blake and Brock, ran their 30-foot Spectre catamaran on the short trek from Sarasota to Caddy’s Restaurant in Bradenton.
Enjoy more images from the 10th annual Joey Gratton Memorial New Year’s Day Fun Run.
Priscilla Gratton, their mother, and a host of family members joined the Gratton twins at the waterfront eatery.
“Brock and his wife went with us in the boat on the way there and my mom, my wife, my aunt, and our kids met us there,” said Blake Gratton. “And my brother’s kids rode home with us and it was their first time going fast in the boat. But we took it easy and drove safely.
“It was an awesome day,” he added. “A million boats show up, and it’s cool because we met a ton of people from all over the country who are making this an annual event.”
Though more than 100 boats made the run, not all went to Caddy’s, where Beckley counted 88 boats at the docks. Among the local participants was Cole McGowan, a speedonthewater.com contributing editor who lives in Sarasota. Two-time tunnel-boat world champion and 2021 Super Stock National Champion Shaun Torrente and his wife, Flavia, hosted McGowan for the day in their new MTI 390X catamaran.
“After working with fog the last two days, the conditions cleared and made for a great run today,” McGowan said. “There was a stiff wind, but I think everyone found the weather to be just fine. It’s so cool that a run, which originally started as a casual boating get-together, has turned into such a large-scale destination event in memory of Joey, a great man remembered fondly by so many.”
The final event of this week’s Southwest Florida go-fast boating happenings, the Fort Myers Offshore Holiday Fun Run starts tomorrow. Fort Myers Offshore president Tim Hill is expecting 100 entries. Brian and Sandy Hoar, who traveled from Vermont to participate in all of this week’s events in their Statement Marine 360 catamaran, will be among them. As will the Torrentes.
Members of the Gratton family joined the fleet for the run.
“Today’s run was awesome—tons of boats the weather was perfect,” said Brian Hoar. “I think today was a 10 out of 10 boating day”
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