The New Jersey high-performance powerboating community lost one of its most cherished members yesterday when 59-year-old Anthony Sauta collapsed at one his automobile body shops and—despite attempts by first responders and emergency room physicians to save his life—later died. Though Sauta had experienced multiple health issues in recent years and cardiac arrest is suspected as the cause of death among his friends, an official cause has not been released.
With yesterday’s death of Anthony Sauta (far left) the New Jersey performance boating community lost one of its most vibrant and beloved members (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.
Well-known for his exuberant personality, Sauta and his 39-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom were staples on the New Jersey performance-boating scene, as well as on the Florida Powerboat Club poker run circuit. In addition to participating in local poker runs and fun runs, he offered up—and drove—his boat many times to give rides to mentally and physically challenged children and adults during the annual Shore Dreams For Kids events in Seaside Heights.
“Anthony was loved by everybody,” said Bob Christie, a well-known member of the Garden State’s go-fast boating community and a longtime friend Sauta friend. “He was like a brother to me. And he was one of the most generous people—with a great sense of humor—I’ve ever met. He was a huge part of our family. We spent a lot of time with him. He was the guy who walked into a room and always had a smile. He welcomed you in his home. He wanted everyone to have a good time. He really cared about that.
“When my daughter, Lauren, got married, her husband hit a deer with his car,” he continued. “Anthony had one of his shops fix it. He picked up the car, and ended up hitting another deer on the way home. Anthony fixed it again. And then the car got rear-ended—and Anthony fixed it again. After that, he called me and said, ‘You know, you really do need to invest in my business.’ I just called him the other day because one of my daughters hit another deer. He said, ‘Oh boy, here we go again.’”
Veteran powerboat photographer Tim Sharkey got to know Sauta on the offshore race course and became close with him off it.
“He replaced me as navigator in the Shockwave boat in the mid-1990s,” he said. “I got to know him through (offshore racer) Rich Troppoli. ‘Team Sauta’ was the group at Shore Dreams—year after year—that handled the north side of the docks, I was with him when he was looking at his first Outerlimits, the blue and silver one, at the Atlantic City Boat Show.
“He was always happy, always surrounded himself with good people, and was very generous,” Sharkey added. “Anytime I got in a boat, when he saw me put my camera away he put me behind the wheel or on the sticks. I got stuck in Key West one year with no place to stay and he opened his place to me. He said, ‘Set up shop do what you have to do.’ He was always great that way.”
Sauta ran with a close-knit crew in New Jersey that included Charlie Amorosi, Thomas Anselmi, Bob and Madelyn Christie, Frank Civitano, Pete Kleban, Joe Nasso, Geralyn Monroe and others. The members of his inner circle are reeling at his death.
Sauta’s Outerlimits SL 39 V-bottom saw plenty of duty in New Jersey and Florida go-fast boating events (click image to enlarge).
“He had that infectious laugh—you knew when he was there,” said Nasso. “He was a true entrepreneur in the sense that he had five businesses, from a body shop to a towing outfit to a powder-coating operation, and every one of them was successful. He always would give 110 percent and he worked long hours to make sure they succeeded. And he was one of the most generous guys you’d ever meet. The year Hurricane Sandy almost ruined Shore Dreams for Kids, Anthony donated a Bob Cat and an excavator and ran them all day to get us back on track. He was a true gentleman, and generous as hell.”
Added Christie, “Anthony is going to be missed by everybody. He’s gone way too soon.”