Moved back to mid-March rather than the weekend after the Miami International Boat Show this year, last week’s third annual MTI Owners Fun Run in the Florida Keys was a special one, especially for a handful of customers who took delivery of their new boats from the Wentzville, Mo., builder during the event, which took place Thursday through Sunday.
With throttleman Billy Moore by his side, David Spear had a great time driving his carbon-fiber 40-foot canopied cat in the MTI Owners Fun Run. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
According to Tim Gallagher, MTI’s sales and marketing manager, the run to the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club (right, click to enlarge) in Marathon included 32 boats ranging from cats of all ages, sizes and power packages, as well as several MTI-V 42 center consoles and even the company’s brilliant new 57-foot center console that was delivered to South Carolina’s Todd and Debby Campbell, who are new to the MTI family.
“We had an excellent time and we met some of the nicest people,” said Todd Campbell, who plans to officially take delivery of the quad Mercury Racing Verado 400R-powered MTI-V 57 they’ve named Unbridled at the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana in early May (MTI is modifying a few things on the boat between now and then). “The service and experience that MTI offers with the fun run is top-shelf. We weren’t really looking for an MTI—I was in the market for a Hatteras motor yacht. But we knew of MTI and its owner Randy Scism’s great reputation through our friend Rich Bennett and when we saw the new 57 my wife fell in love and wanted nothing else. It’s a niece piece of equipment, it’s great looking and I think the power is perfect for the size.”
Campbell, who is on the board of directors for the annual Hartwell Lake Poker Run that benefits the local Meals on Wheels services, said the 57-footer is a little large for his hometown lake, but he will have it there for the poker run in early June. After that, he’s looking forward to running the boat to The Abacos and other islands in The Bahamas.
New Jersey performance boater Bob Christie, who owned the famed Speed Racer MTI catamaran for many years and is back in the MTI family with the new 340X cat he took delivery of a few months back, attended the run for the first time and was blown away.
Although he didn't get much flight time due to a mechanical issue with the helicopter, speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden still got some great shots as the 20 in the slideshow above prove.
“MTI did a first-class job with the run; I really don’t know how else to describe, but it was incredible,” Christie said. “They had a whole crew taking care of everything. They brought our luggage down in a van, washed our boats and more—it was unlike any rendezvous I’ve been to in that sense. It also was cool because it was a fun, mature group of people who obviously have a lot in common. I met a lot of great people from all over, including a group from Norway.
“The run itself was a lot of fun, too,” he continued. “We had a rough run on Saturday morning to Key West for lunch, but the boat handled it great. The best way I can describe it, is that it rides and feels like a bigger boat than it is. It’s also roomier than our 44 was. The best part though is the fuel efficiency. We used the same amount of fuel on Thursday running from TNT Custom Marine in Miami to Marathon as we did going for Marathon to Key West and back on Saturday. It’s nice to look down and see that you’re getting 2 mpg.”
The Norwegian crew Christie was referring to was Asbjorn Abrahamsen and company in his 52-foot MTI catamaran, and according to Gallagher they had a great time at the run. Gallagher also said participants came from as far as New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and many other places around the country
“Our customers are amazing, they really are,” said Gallagher, who added that MTI moved the fun run back a few weeks to separate it even more from the boat show and to make it a kick-off event for many of their customers’ boating seasons. “By hanging out with these owners for four days, we are able to get out and spend time with quite a few of them in many different boats. We delivered two new 34s, a new 42 center console and of course the 57. The deliveries were timed for this event because we can spend more time with the customers to make sure they’re comfortable and understand how everything works.
“Everyone operated their boats safely and we only had one minor mechanical problem besides the helicopter issue that cut short Saturday’s photo and video shoot,” he continued. “Some of these guys put more than 500 miles on their boats. I love seeing them use their boats. That’s the reason we put so much effort into this event.”
The slideshow above includes some of Tim Gallagher's favorite pictures he took during the MTI Owners Fun Run.
Gallagher made sure to thank his dedicated MTI crew for its support as well as everyone at Xtreme Powerboats and Haulover Marine Center for their hard work. He also thanked the Florida Powerboat Club for hosting a cocktail party on Friday night at the Faro Blanco Resort.
“I tell you what, Tim and Randy and everyone at MTI are just amazing,” Mike Stordahl, who took delivery of his new 340X catamaran with twin Mercury Verado 400R engines two days before the fun run. “I couldn’t believe they were taking such great care of us. They were cleaning the boats, filling them with gas—we just had to get in and drive. The boat ran great for being a smaller boat compared to many of the other MTIs at the event. We ran in some big water a couple of days down there and it handled it fine.”
Stordahl, who has owned a few Baja Marine V-bottoms, said he and his wife, Kristin are going to be taking the boat to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, which is where they do most of their boating despite residing in Hastings, Minn.
“We’re very happy with how the boat turned out,” said Stordahl, who ordered the 34-footer in October. “I’d always been intrigued by catamarans and now with these outboards and how much less maintenance they require, we figured now was the time to give it a try. We had a lot of fun with the build process. In fact we flew to Missouri a few times to tour the factory, pick out colors and interiors and see the boat in progress.”
Not only did the Stordahls meet some great people from MTI in the process, they also were introduced to a whole new set of friends thanks to the MTI Owners Fun Run, which Gallagher said is sure to take place again next year—and likely grow larger based on the overwhelmingly positive response of this year’s participants.
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