No one in offshore powerboat racing laughs more frequently or harder — most often at himself — than Rhode Island’s Serafino “Jimmy” Cazzani, the owner and throttleman of the Alex And Ani team that competes on the Super Boat International and Offshore Powerboat Association circuits.
Don’t misunderstand. Cazzani — who campaigns a 42-foot Platinum catamaran formerly owned by Chris Cox, the owner of the Envy team and Cazzani’s chief rival under the Stotler Racing Engines umbrella — is one competitive dude. But he’s also blessed with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a balanced perspective, both good things to have for a competitor in SBI’s and OPA’s most exotic, expensive and fragile classes.
“Nobody makes any money doing this,” said Cazzani. “So you’ve got to have fun.”
What constitutes fun, of course, is in the eyes of the person having it. Consider all the “fun” Cazzani had last weekend at the OPA National and World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla. During practice and ferrying, he twice ran his 42-footer onto sandbars (Cazzani calls it “digging clams”) and ended up having to buy the freshly damaged propellers loaned to him by fellow Extreme-class competitor Mike DeFrees of the CRC/Sunlight Supply team. After a practice session with driver Johnny Stanch, he took off his helmet and opened the boat’s canopy hatch — only to have the hatch slam down on his noggin and leave him bloody and dazed.
After a practice session with driver Johnny Stanch, he took off his helmet and opened the boat’s canopy hatch — only to have the hatch slam down on his noggin and leave him bloody and dazed.
“I told everyone that Johnny and me got into a fight in the boat,” Cazzani said between fits of laughter. “And people believed in it. When we got to the dock, all the nurses came running over. It was awesome.” Then he launched into his sandbar beaching stories. “I finally told my guys, ‘I’m just going to aim for the sandbar and I won’t hit it,’” he said. “Of course, I hit it.” Cazzani cackled so hard that he had to take a few moments to catch his breath after that one.
Then he launched into his sandbar beaching stories. “I finally told my guys, ‘I’m just going to aim for the sandbar and I won’t hit it,’” he said. “Of course, I hit it.” Cazzani cackled so hard that he had to take a few moments to catch his breath after that one.
Slightly less funny to him, however, was that he finished behind in his rivalry — most of which is contrived for dramatic effect — with the Envy team’s Chris Cox in overall points last weekend. “Absolutely, I was disappointed,” he said. “But we did finish ahead of them on Sunday. Unfortunately, Chris broke. In fact, it was the first race we finished all season. We beat the snot out of our stuff this year. We broke a drive in every race. It was good to get some miles on the boat.”
Between the sandbar encounters and the rough sea conditions, Alex And Ani returned from Sunday’s race with cracked lower units on its Mercury Racing No. 6 drives — in addition to the damaged loaner props that Cazzani was obligated to buy from DeFrees.
“Mike gave me a very nice price on the propellers,” he said then cackled. “He was very fair. Having him there was a huge bonus.”
“I was getting mad at Johnny on Sunday because he was telling me to slow down and save the equipment, and I wanted to race,” he added then laughed again. “He was right. If we’d have run like hot dogs, we’d have busted both gearcases. That’s a not a knock on the drives — they’re old stuff that’s been rebuilt. It is what it is.
Cazzani doesn’t know if he’ll be backed by the jewelry giant — which set up the Bangle Bar that did brisk business in Englewood Beach — next year. He’s optimistic, of course, that he’ll return to race in 2017, as are the thousands of Alex And Ani fans, many of whom have signed Cazzani’s raceboat during the past few years.
“They sold a ton of stuff at the Bangle Bar, which is really good,” said Cazzani. “I got feedback from Alex And Ani and they said it was great.”
And then Cazzani — head wound, damaged propellers and drives, uncertain sponsorship future and all — laughed again.
“You know, I think we stole the show,” he said.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.