On the morning of Sept. 3, boat racing professionals Stuart Hayim, with throttleman Joey Imprescia, set out to challenge his previous racing record around Long Island and Manhattan to raise a goal of $250,000 for the Boomer Esiason Foundation and the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation. Four-time world champion and three-time U.S. national title holder Hayim started his 51-foot MTI with twin Mercury 1650 race engines in Manhasset Bay. The vessel reached speeds topping 150 mph, but, 26 minutes into the race, the duo clipped a six- to eight-foot buoy at approximately 148 mph. Neither was hurt. Foggy conditions were to blame.
“We were doing great, way ahead of the record, and out of nowhere we ran into fog,” Hayim said. “I looked up at the seaplane, which had the medics in it, and it disappeared into the fog. I looked back down, heard Joey yell ‘Buoy!’ and I saw it right in front of us. If I hadn’t been able to turn the wheel, that buoy would have come right down the center of the tunnel. We could have been killed. It’s a miracle that the boat didn’t sink and we made it back to shore.”
See video of the race, and crash, below:
The vessel sustained significant damage. “I am grateful that no one got hurt, but frustrated that we didn’t do what we set out to do,” said Hayim. “We were on pace to break our record. We’re just two boat racers from Long Island, trying to break a record and raise money and hopes for cancer victims. I accept full responsibility for what happened. You live by the sword, you die by the sword and we were living by the sword. I am guilty—I was the captain of the ship. I would have received all the glory if it worked, but I have to take all the shame and responsibility that it didn’t as well.
“Our goal was the same as it’s always been with my racing, to give hope and inspiration to those who are sick. I pledged a certain amount of money to charities and said I would double that if I broke the record. I may double it anyway,” Hayim said. “We intended this to be a last dance and raise a lot of money, and it almost ended in tragedy. I will—as I tell my children—count the donuts not the holes, and be grateful for what we have, our lives, and try not to focus on the record.”
Hayim doesn’t plan to slow down. He will attempt to break his record again in 2016. His previous record for the 271-mile journey is 2 hours and 11 minutes, set in 2012. The time was recorded by the National Powerboat Association and Hayim raised $121,000.
Hayim is a cancer survivor; he beat lymphoma. The Great Neck resident’s dream has been to use offshore powerboat racing as an avenue to give back to hospitals and charities close to his heart. As a defending champion, Hayim has won 67 out of 80 races and donated every dollar of prize money to the Don Monti Foundation at North Shore Hospital, where he was treated and beat cancer.
Hayim has always been a fan of Esiason’s accomplishments, especially when it comes to his charity efforts. “The awareness that Boomer raises for cystic fibrosis is just unparalleled, and through his fight, I was compelled to bring my passion and drive to support his cause,” said Hayim.
Prior to the race, Esiason said, “Meeting Stuart and learning about his passion for racing to raise money for charity has been an incredible experience. I admire his dedication to his craft as well as his determination to pay it forward. My team at BEF could not be more excited about Stuart’s choice in supporting us and our fight against cystic fibrosis.”
“In my head, back in 2012, my journey was done. I own the record and I was able to touch lives that were affected by a disease that almost took my own life,” said Hayim. “But seeing how Boomer fights every day, not only for his own family, but for the estimated 30,000 Americans that were born into this disease, I am going to fight, I am going to charge.”
The race streamed live online and supporters also tuned in to WFAN Sports Radio for live updates. To donate or learn more information, visit www.firstgiving.com.
Watch last year’s race here.
The Boomer Esiason Foundation is a partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities and volunteers who heighten awareness, education and quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research to find a cure. The foundation sponsors a series of diverse annual fundraising events and relies on individual pledges, corporate contributions and philanthropic grants.
Established in 1983, Hayim’s company, The Experience Auto Group, is the corporate home to various dealerships for brands such as Maserati, Ferrari, and Porsche. With locations in Long Island, New York, New Jersey and Florida, each dealership offers body shop operations as well as management of dealership sales and vehicle restoration.