By Matt Trulio
Hayim Tackling Another Record
Noted offshore racer and cancer survivor going big just one more time.
It is the stuff of endless banter for sports radio talk shows: When does an athlete know he’s done? When does he hang it up before embarrassing himself? When does he move on to the next stage of his life?
For offshore racers, whose careers last can last as long as they have the desire and resources to pursue them, those answers are a lot easier to come by. There are four of them, and they can be applied solo or in combination. They are:
- When you run out of money.
- When you get bored of standing on the podium by yourself for lack of competition.
- When you tire of the internal politics that created reason No. 2.
- When your loved ones threaten to abandon you if you don’t quit.
Stuart Hayim, who owns the the Experience Auto Group that sells Ferraris, Maseratis, and other luxury vehicles out of three boutique showrooms in New York and Florida, knows all four of the reasons to exit the sport all too well. A native New Yorker, Hayim got into offshore racing in the mid 1980s to raise money for cancer research and treatment.
That’s because Hayim is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1979 and completed his recovery seven years later at the Don Monti Cancer Center at The North Shore University Hospital. He vowed to never forget his ordeal, and to help makes things better for the next person who had to go through it.
To that end, Hayim named his team Recovery, and over the next ten years—starting in the mid-1980s—he and throttleman Joey Imprescia earned several world championships in several catamarans. But the underlying goal of all his efforts on the racecourse was fundraising. Hayim donated every purse he won to the Don Monti Cancer Center.
“Mrs. Monti came up to me while I was there and said, ‘I lost my son to cancer, I’m not going to lose you,’” says Hayim. “I never forgot that. I owe my life to them.
“I don’t know how much money we raised for cancer research and treatment, I really don’t,” Hayim continues. “I’ve been asked that question a lot, and I honestly don’t know. We didn’t keep track, and I don’t want to misrepresent it as more than it was. The biggest single purse check I ever donated was $18,000. I know that. But in addition to fundraising our goal was to spread the message of hope and inspiration to others with cancer and their families. And when people came up to me at races and said, ‘Can I talk to you for a few minutes?’ I knew exactly what they wanted. They wanted me to talk to someone with the disease. So that’s what I did. That’s way I was there for.”
In addition to claiming ten world titles on offshore racecourses under various sanctioning bodies, Hayim and Imprescia set an Around Long Island record of 3 hours and 7 minutes in a 32-foot Skater catamaran in 1989. As Hayim considered the waters off Long Island his home turf, so to speak, it was a record that made him particularly proud.
Last year, the record fell when Joe Cibellis and Joe Srgo shaved a minute off of the existing mark in their 43-foot-long Outerlimits V-bottom with twin 725-hp V-10 engines from Ilmor Marine. From the moment he heard about it, Hayim was skeptical about the new record.
“Let’s just say I have some doubts about it and leave it at that,” Hayim said. “But I thought the guys who won it last year did a great job. I even signed their flag when they were finished.”
Hayim has never been one to shy away from controversy or the spotlight, and his doubts eventually became public. A war of words in which Hayim, to his credit, did not take part, began on a high-performance boating message board. Hayim was either a man of principal or a sore loser, a has-been or a hero. It all depended on who was doing the talking—or online posting.
With setting a new record “in mind,” as big an understatement as you’ll ever read, Hayim ordered a new 48-foot Marine Technology, Inc., catamaran with twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines in spring 2012. The boat was completed in late July, and Hayim says he plans to drive the boat on a new Around Long Island record attempt with John Tomlinson, another world champion offshore racer, handling the throttles.
What Hayim won’t do is run with the pack during the planned Don Aronow Memorial Race Around Long Island on Sept. 22. Instead, he plans to tackle the record sometime between August 8-10.
“I just got off the phone with Billy Frenz [head of the National Powerboat Association, the sanctioning body of the Aronow Memorial event] a few hours ago and told him that we changed our plans and are going to do it sooner,” said Hayim in late July. “They [the entrants in the Sept. 22 event] can chase our record after we set it.”
Hayim had initially planned to let someone else do the driving (See reason No. 4 above for an explanation) with Tomlinson on the throttles. But the more he thought about it, the less sense that made to him as the final act in the long play that was his career. Like other athletes, he has come out of retirement more than once. Also like the others, he sees this final act as just that—his very last time behind the wheel of an offshore raceboat.
“It wouldn’t be valid if I didn’t do it myself,” says Hayim. “This will be the final chapter in a story that started 27 years ago. It’s the perfect note to end on, the perfect ending to 27 years of great times.”
Hayim’s Around Like Island record attempt will in part be dedicated to raising funds for cancer treatment and research. Those interested in donating can find more information at www.BreakingRecords.org.
- Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.
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