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Jewelry-Backed Cat Headed For Key West Worlds

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When the Superboat Unlimited class fleet starts its first race during the Super Boat International Key West Offshore World Championships in early November, it will include a seasoned catamaran with a brand-new sponsor. That’s because Alex and Ani a white-hot jewelry company with a penchant for charity—its Charity By Design efforts have earned widespread acclaim—is sponsoring an offshore raceboat for the first time in company history.

Dubbed Alex and Ani /Scuderia Cazzani, the 40-foot Platinum cat, which was built by Douglas Marine/Skater, has already lived two offshore racing lives, the first as the original Cintron and the second as Superheat. It is powered by a pair of supercharged 1,250-hp mills from Stotler Racing Engines, which also supplies the engines for the current Cintron racer, a 50-foot Mystic cat.

Serafino ” Jimmy” Cazzani, who competed in offshore racing’s Sportsman D and Open classes from the late 1980s to the early 1990s and lives in Cranston, R.I., bought the boat from Chris Cox, who will field a new 50-foot Mystic cat in SBI competition next year. (Read the story.) Cazzani will throttle the cat in the Key West Worlds with Herb Stotler of the high-performance marine engine company that bears his name.

Why is the 54-year-old Cazzani getting back into the sport after so many years—for all intents and purposes—on the sidelines?

“I got bored,” he said, then laughed. “I went through pleasure boat after pleasure boat. I still have my old 30-foot Chris Cat I restored. But I got bored.

Serafino " Jimmy" Cazzani (left) and Herb Stotler shared the cockpit this summer at the SBI New York City Grand Prix.Serafino ” Jimmy” Cazzani (left) and Herb Stotler shared the cockpit this summer at the SBI New York City Grand Prix.

“I saw this boat on the market through offshoreonly.com, and I’d known Herb (Stotler) since my racing days,” he continued. “I called him, and within 48 hours the deal was done. I have a great deal of faith in him, and because Cintron isn’t coming to Key West he said he could do this with me.”

As a tune-up for Key West, Cazzani and Stotler manned the cockpit of the 40-footer together at the SBI New York City Grand Prix on the Hudson River this summer.

“It had been two years since I’d been in the cockpit, driving Cintron,” said Stotler, who is 51 years old. “What I do more of now are the engines, storing the boats and team management, and it’s easier to do that if you’re not the one who’s also racing in the boat. I kind of missed it. I say it doesn’t bother me, but then I guess it does bother me a little because I kind of missed it. I’m just hoping we can be at least a little competitive in Key West, because we’re definitely the underdog.”

That the team immediately landed such big-name primary sponsor is unusual in a sport where sponsorship dollars have become harder and harder to find. Their good fortune is not lost on Cazzani, who took a direct approach to securing Alex and Ani as a backer.

“I went straight to the CEO, Giovanni Feroce, and said, ‘We have the most beautiful boat in the world, what would you like to do?” said Cazzani. “We went back and forth for a while, and they gave us a fair amount of money for Key West. I said, ‘We can open up markets for you that you will never touch.’ He said, ‘You know, I think you’re right. We’re going to take a shot at this.’ They’re going to gauge what happens in Key West, the CEO will actually be down there, to see if they want to move forward with us next year.”

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