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Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Preview: Grudge Match, Regrouping And More On Tap

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While it likely won’t be as high-flying as it was in New Jersey, the offshore racing action between Alex And Ani and Miss GEICO in Sarasota, Fla., this Sunday should be hard-fought. Photo courtesy/copyright Cody Edmunds/Edmunds Photography.

With 27 offshore raceboats registered for competition this coming Sunday, July 3, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, which benefits the Suncoast Florida Charities for Children nonprofit organization, boasts as large a fleet as any offshore race so far this season. Although the increasingly popular Powerboat P1 USA SuperStock single-engine V-bottom and Aqua X personal watercraft classes will compete on Saturday, the big draw for offshore racing fans during the 32nd annual event on Florida’s Gold Coast will be Sunday’s contest.

“We are excited that many of the larger powerboats that could not race Sarasota last year due to a schedule conflict will be will be back participating,” said Lucy Nicandri, the director of Suncoast Charities for Children, which produces the weeklong event culminating in the race on Sunday, in a press release from the organization.

Here’s a quick look at some of the more compelling potential storylines for Sunday’s action:

AMH Construction/Instigator, the 40-foot Fountain owned and throttled by Peter Myer, will do battle with its old nemesis Twisted Metal, a 39-foot Fountain owned and throttled by Billy Glueck, for the first time this season in Sarasota’s Super Vee class. In fact, the Sarasota event will be the AMH Construction/Instigator team’s first competition this season as it’s been the only entry in its class in the first two races so far on the Super Boat International circuit, where it runs in the Superboat Extreme class.

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Sailor Jerry/Autonation will return to Sarasota to defend its 2015 title. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Sailor Jerry/Autonation, a 40-foot Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran owned and throttled by Randy Sweers of FB Marine Group will return to defend its 2015 Sarasota Grand Prix Super Cat-class championship against worthy competition in the 38-foot Skater Cleveland Construction and—back in action this season—Warpaint, a 42-foot MTI. The contest will pit three cats with relatively equal power and experienced cockpit crews against one another on Sarasota Bay. Sweers and company struggled in the first two Superboat-class races of the SBI season, so Sarasota gives him and his team an opportunity to regroup. “It’s not an SBI race, but it’s such a great event for my family,” he said. “Plus, we’re the defending winners from last year.”

•Once again, Miss GEICO and Alex And Ani will go head to head as the only two boats in their class, called Extreme (Super Unlimited) under the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix umbrella. They’ve raced twice against one another so far this season in Offshore Powerboat Association competition, and each time the 44-foot Miss GEICO Victory catamaran came out on top of Alex And Ani’s 40-foot Platinum catamaran. Heading into this weekend’s action, the “war or words” between the two teams is already escalating—again.

“Marc Granet (Miss GEICO’s driver) calls me and tries psyching me out before every race—he calls it ‘concern and advice,’” said Jimmy Cazzani, Alex And Ani’s owner and throttleman. “What he doesn’t understand is you can’t psyche out a guy with 92 blood-pressure who dozes off in the milling area if they keep us too long. The cockpit is my natural habitat. There is no pressure on me. I’m going to have fun, hang out with the fans and represent Alex And Ani to the best of my abilities. The pressure is clearly on Miss GEICO—and they’re sweating.”

“The back straight in Sarasota is a 170-plus-mph straight,” countered Granet. “I remember racing against Alex And Ani when she was Cintron, and above 150 mph she was a handful. I hope Jimmy packs his big-boy drawers. The block party is more his speed.”

•With at least five entries including local favorites Phantom 9 and Boatfloater.com, the Super Vee Light class should have the largest fleet of any category.

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Sarasota local Ryan Beckley will have two catmarans to throttle on Sunday. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

•Veteran offshore racer and Sarasota local Ryan Beckley will throttle two races, one in his 30-foot, twin-outboard canopied Skater catamaran with driver Kevin Pruett, and another in his 24-foot Skater with Chris Economides, his stepson, who’ll be handling the driving duties in the 24-foot, single outboard open-cockpit cat.

Editor’s Note: Look for a follow-up story on the 2016 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix following Sunday’s race.

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