So a friend of mine inside—and I mean deep inside—the offshore racing community called me earlier this week. He’d read the speedonthewater.com story on the rivalry between a couple of Super Boat International Unlimited-class team owners—Chris Cox of Envy and Jimmy Cazzani and Alex And Ani—that has resulted in a $10,000 wager between them, and he was concerned.
“Keep your eyes and ears open on that one,” he said. “I’m not so sure about this ‘rivalry’ thing between these guys. I think you might be getting played. I think they might be using you to stir the pot and drum up publicity. It could just be a Facebook thing.”
“So what?” I responded. “Either way, I’m good.”
Personalities off the racecourse give fans something to respond to when the raceboats aren’t on it. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
No stranger to drama on and off the racecourse, my friend paused for a moment then laughed. “Yeah,” he said. “I get it.”
Whatever their motivation—and despite reading a slew of truly funny “attacking” emails I was copied on between Cox and Cazzani I’d be lying if I said I have a handle on it—these guys are creating interest and buzz for the sport off the racecourse. Whether they truly dislike one another or are simply exaggerating their rivalry for effect, it doesn’t matter. It’s color. It’s drama.
And it’s something offshore racing desperately needs, because anyone who believes the sport believes can succeed without backstory and personalities is delusional. I’m not talking about pure journalism or straight reporting of the who, what, when and where. I’m not talking about “faking” the action on the racecourse. I’m talking about marketing the sport beyond what happens on the racecourse. I’m talking about marketing personalities, especially the big and outspoken ones, and that’s a fair description of Cazzani and Cox.
Conflicts and rivalries between entire teams and individual players, heroes and villains—they’ll all an indispensable part of drama that defines the sporting landscape. Show me a sport without those elements and I’ll show you a sport that’s failing.
That neither Cazzani nor Cox is likely to be an Unlimited-class front-runner—at least based on past performances—during the upcoming Super Boat International National Championships in Clearwater, Fla., doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that they’ve only been on the racecourse once at the same time, and that was during the 2014 SBI Key West Worlds. Regardless of its degree of authenticity, their rivalry creates interest in the sport. Love or hate each other, and truth probably lies somewhere between the two, they have created another compelling story line within offshore racing’s most exotic and exhilarating, and as often as not most frustrating and disappointng, class.
And that makes the $10,000 involved more than just money. It makes it smart money.