Competing on the Offshore Powerboat Association circuit this season—with the addition of the Powerboat P1-sanctioned Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in July—the Alex And Ani catamaran will have new livery/graphics when it hits the water later this month at the OPA World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla. That’s the word from team owner Serafino “Jimmy” Cazzani, who said he and teammate/engine builder Herb Stotler will be coming to the event “unsponsored and full of piss and vinegar.”
“We’re going to call it Stotler Turbo Power,” said Cazzani of his 40-foot canopied Platinum catamaran. “Maybe we can sell somebody an engine.”
Cazzani described his 2017 offshore racing season as one of “high expectations and a few disappointments." The death of fellow OPA racer David Raabe at the organization’s contest in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., hit him hard, as did the loss of fellow Extreme Class competitor Keith Holmes at the OPA race later in the season in St. Clair, Mich.
“Losing a colleague in Point Pleasant Beach crushed me,” he said. “There was never a question of me getting back in the boat, but losing a promising young racer hurt and affected me profoundly.”
At OPA’s Lake Race in Central Missouri, Alex And Ani appeared to claim victory but was penalized for missing a turn buoy and ended up in second place. Going up against archrival Miss GEICO, the team had a strong showing later in the season at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix but also finished second.
“We should have won this race but not having a small prop in inventory killed our performance,” said Cazzani. “We'd get Miss GEICO on the long leg and they'd get us on the short ones. It was so close till a police patrol boat with gumballs flashing impedes us. Yup, he comes right into the course. We came off plane for a second looking for signals then took off again. This episode cost us at least 45 seconds.”
Cazzani paused to chuckle, then continued. “After the awards party I heard a rumor there was some sort of collusion between Miss GEICO and the Russians to affect the outcome of this race," he said. "Who knew Putin was an offshore racing fan?”
Though Alex And Ani didn’t compete at the OPA St. Clair River Classic in Michigan, the accident that claimed the life of Holmes in the Cat Can Do team catamaran left Cazzani reeling. That he had hard words with Holmes after the Lake Race earlier this season didn’t help.
“Our last conversation was atypical of me,” said Cazzani. “Keith was a badass—he took it to the powerhouses. He was gone and I was so sad, just distraught.”
An electrical problem in an otherwise “healthy boat” knocked Cazzani, who lives in Rhode Island, out of contention in his OPA “home race” in Fall River, Mass., later in the season. But he and Stotler did finish the race.
“By the time Fall River came around we’d finished nine races in a row,” he said. “That’s unheard of in the Unlimited class. We had to nurse the boat around the course in Fall River, but the good thing was we had just finished another race intact. The motors were perfect—we just needed to find the electrical glitch and perform a basic once-over before the OPA Worlds in Englewood Beach.
“Our turbo engines are impressive and it's time we flaunt our successes,” he added. "Collectively we've developed a powerful, reliable and cost-effective power package.”
Cazzani said he’s hoping to have backing from jewelry giant Alex And Ani next year and that the sponsor “will definitely have a presence” on this boat in Englewood Beach. But the team will, as noted above, compete as Stotler Turbo Power in its final race of the 2017 OPA season.
“I'm very grateful for Alex And Ani's friendship and support,” he said. “They invested money in me and in offshore racing. They are a great organization and fans of our sport. We need more big players like them.”