Bob and Jim Anselmo could quite possibly have the best gig in offshore powerboat racing. They drive and throttle, respectively, a 368 Skater with a fully enclosed cockpit powered by twin Mercury Racing HP 525EFIs with Number Six drives.
And they have a great sponsor to back them up.
Phil Houck, who owns two Bull on the Beach restaurants and Crab Alley in Ocean City, Md., has been sponsoring the Anselmos since 1996 in a number of boats and has become like a second family to the brothers.
The latest is the boat that most recently ran as Popeyes in 2010. Prior to that, it flew the In M’Ocean colors. It was built in 2005 and was the first Skater 368 with a cut-down deck and the centrally positioned enclosed cockpit that puts the driver and throttleman side by side and has an escaped hatch in the tunnel.
The purchase was actually made in February 2015 and the boat was sent up to Wazzup Racing in Brick, N.J., where Anthony Smith did the fiberglass repairs and covered it with a fresh coat of Ferrari-yellow paint. The HP 525EFIs and the drives were gone through and freshened up and the team was pleased with the boat in early testing. There were thoughts of bringing the boat to the Offshore Performance Association national championships in Lake Hopatcong, N.J., but problems with the tow vehicle prevented that.
Instead, Jim, 54, and Bob, 52, will return to the racecourse at the OPA world championships in Englewood, Fla., November 15-19.
“Since we don’t have a lot of test time and we’re still getting to know the boat, Englewood would be a good first race,” said Jim.
The Anselmos have a strong racing history. They had a 30’ Cobra, Snake Eyes, then bought the 30’ Spectre, Pour It On, and then they bought Paul Whittier’s 36’ Skater, Ettore.
Jim Anselmo also owned a 32’ Doug Wright catamaran that he raced in the Stock class with Bob and then he sold the boat to the late Kyler Talbot.
“After I sold the Doug Wright, the market crashed,” said Jim Anselmo. “I was in real estate. I went to my sponsor and said, ‘I need to take a break.”
The most famous Bull on the Beach boat prior to the new one was the 32’ Skater that had run as How Sweet It Is. Jim Anselmo throttled the boat in with a few different drivers. The Bull on the Beach team bought the boat in 2012 and after having the Smiths go through it, the Anselmos teamed up in the separate cockpits of the bright red 32-footer. They ran in a couple of classes in OPA winning four world and national championships. Their last race in that boat was Ocean City in 2014.
A couple of years ago, Houck wanted to get the team back to racing. “He’s always liked the big blocks,” said Jim Anselmo. “We needed to find something that makes some noise.” They agreed on the new yellow Skater.
When it comes to 2018, the team will be campaigning the boat on the OPA circuit starting in the Bahamas April 25-29.
Photos by: Makenzie Miller