Serafino “Jimmy” Cazzani is a showman. From letting fans sign his Alex And Ani raceboat currently competing on the Offshore Powerboat Association circuit to signing autographs, the Rhode Island-based owner and throttleman of the 40-foot Platinum catamaran with 1,800-plus-hp turbocharged Stotler Racing engines and Mercury Racing M8 drives doesn’t just know the value of face time with his team’s supporters, he loves it. You could even say that his contagious enthusiasm and joy off the racecourse have offset his lack of success on it.
At least until last weekend—or so it appeared for about 48 hours.
Last Saturday, Cazzani and his driver/engine builder Herb Stotler bested Rusty Rahm and Jeff Harris in Wake Effects and Bob Bull and Randy Scism in CMS—the top two teams in the Unlimited class of Super Boat International if recent world titles are anything to go by—at the OPA Lake Race sponsored by Performance Boat Center on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. Rounding out the category, which OPA calls Extreme class, were the always fast American Ethanol/Cat Can Do and no-slouch Speed Racer teams.
That the Lake of the Ozarks is home water for Wake Effects, CMS and Speed Racer made what appeared to be Alex And Ani’s victory that much sweeter. That Wake Effects and CMS broke down took nothing away from Cazzani’s effort for his jewelry giant sponsor, as well as his new backer, Jersey Mike’s Subs. Finishing is a huge part of the game in offshore racing’s most exotic and mechanically fragile class.
“It’s no secret that the Lake of the Ozarks is high-performance boat Mecca,” said Cazzani. “The best race teams in the nation come from this area.”
Just making it to the race was something a victory for the Alex And Ani team, as Cazzani had to rent a hauler when his truck broke down at the zero hour.
The Alex And Ani team left the Lake of the Ozarks with a checkered flag and a nice check. But it wasn’t to be. Come Monday, Cazzani learned that his victory had been overturned in a “photo finish” that put American Ethanol/Cat Can Do in first place on the official OPA results list for the event.
Even in an apparent victory that became defeat, Cazzani was gracious, good-natured and self-deprecating.
“I guess I sandbagged a little too long near the finish line,” he said, then laughed. “I knew American Ethanol/Cat Can Do was coming, and I wanted to make it close and then get on it. Herb kept saying, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ I guess I waited a little too long.”
“You know, Randy Scism really helped me during the off season with advice and shared his knowledge without expecting anything in return,” he continued. “Randy Kent, the owner of the Speed Racer team and Marine Concepts gave us the run of his facility so (at the Lake of the Ozarks) so we could prepare our boat for the event and even offered me a sponsorship, which I’m grateful for. He’s a good guy who’s always helped us at races when we were in trouble. He has a great facility and I’m proud to have Marine Concepts on board with Alex And Ani and Jersey Mike’s Subs.”
Next up for the Alex And Ani team is the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in July on Florida’s west coast, where Cazzani and Stotler will go head to head with Scott Begovich and Marc Granet—their arch rivals—in Miss GEICO. So far, the Miss GEICO team has out-dueled Alex And Ani in all contests. But with its almost-breakthrough Lake Race performance, Alex And Ani could be on its way to a reversal of fortune. Regardless, Cazzani and company joyfully roll on.
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.