Sean Conner is joining Shaun Torrente in the team’s new 32-footer that is sponsored by CMR Construction and Roofing, STR, Raymarine, Salt Weapon, Dewald Propellers and more.
With a brand-new Doug Wright Designs 32-foot catamaran being set up for next month’s American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series season opener and an extensive list of dedicated supporters, the defending Super Stock national champion STR team announced some exciting changes for 2022, including a new owner/driver and new sponsorship agreements.
According to STR Team Manager Shaun Torrente, the team’s primary sponsor for the 2021 season— CMR Construction and Roofing—recently committed to a multi-year deal. Torrente also recently inked an agreement with Raymarine to be the team’s associate presenting sponsor during the race season and its primary sponsor for the late-August Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri.
We are extremely grateful for all the support we received. It was huge for us to have a primary sponsor like CMR last season. It was nice that they had faith in us, and that the partnership worked out wonderfully. Their support is what allowed all the dominos to fall into place last year. I get along great with Steve (Soule, CMR’s CEO) and Chuck (Spicer, CMR’s director of motorsports). They get ‘it’ and they add to the atmosphere with their overall enthusiasm and employee participation at the races.
He is going to miss racing with one of his best friends, fellow Floridian Eric Belisle, who sold the team’s national championship-winning 32-foot Doug Wright to veteran racer Tanner Lewis earlier this year with plans to enjoy more pleasure boating in his MTI 390X cat. Torrente admits he is eager to share the cockpit with California-based offshore racing enthusiast and Salt Weapon President Sean Conner, who specializes in the acquisition and representation of high-end yacht nationwide.
I am thrilled to partner up with Sean—he’s very hungry and he’s been through the struggle so it’s going to be cool for him to have an opportunity to win every time he gets in the boat.
Torrente, who won the 2018 and 2019 F1H2O World Championship as well as the 2018 XCAT World Championship as part of Team Abu Dhabi added
We had an exciting time together during the Joey Gratton memorial run over New Year’s and decided to try racing together. We’re under the gun to get the boat done before Cocoa Beach, but we have a goal and are confident we will get there even if we must work around the clock.
Torrente said the team picked up Conner’s 32-footer from Doug Wright in Melbourne, Fla., on Monday and have been working on it all week with the hopes of having it on the water for testing in less than two weeks. The boat’s canopy, he added, has some additional safety features over the team’s previous one, including upgraded safety crash boxes and masking over the windows.
We learned some things in the rigging process that we’re improving on this time around. One thing we’re doing is designing each dash to be modular and then we’re going to build a back-up dash so we can pull out the old one if we happen to wreck it during a race. That could end up saving us a lot of time. The best thing about having the modern Mercury power is that we only have to keep sets of four distinct parts on the truck.
Conner, who was a crew member for the Miss GEICO Offshore Racing team from 2006-2008 and left the sport for close to a decade to run his family’s recycling business, said he’s always wanted to come back and race his own boat. In 2021, after getting the chance to compete in a few races alongside veteran racer Gary Ballough in Ballough’s Super Stock-class 32-foot Victory catamaran, Conner joined Loren Peters in the LPC team’s Doug Wright for the Key West Offshore World Championships and the team finished fourth overall after winning the second of three races.
I’m extremely excited to be in the boat with Torrente and to be able to pull from his knowledge and experience. He and I both go at this with the same mental aspect. We’re not there to have fun; we’re there to win a race and we’re going to remain focused on what we’re doing with the equipment, the team members, and the overall preparation.
I had a quick conversation with Torrente in Key West last year and then we ended up catching up in Dubai during the XCAT races. From that we had dinner together and made an agreement to spend a week together over New Year’s, getting to know each other and figuring out if we wanted to race together. That was all it took.
Along with STR X-Act, CMR, Raymarine and Salt Weapon, DeWald Propellers—Dave Dewald and Torrente are almost family—Marine Trading Post and Electronics Unlimited are the team’s associate sponsors. The Raymarine deal is particularly intriguing to Torrente because of the technology that it brings to the boat from the networked cameras with colour night-vision FLIR technology to the new line of Axiom multi-function displays.
Jamie Dery, vice president of the Americas for Raymarine said
I met Shaun Torrente through a mutual friend—Ron Muller of Electronics Unlimited—not long after Ron and I had been talking about ways for Raymarine to drive growth within the offshore powerboat and performance center console markets. He informed me that he had a friend building a new raceboat who might be the perfect person to get involved with from a sponsorship and product standpoint. When I told him I was interested, he introduced me to Torrente at the Miami International Boat Show. I spent about an hour with him, and he was infectious. He has such a passion for the sport; I felt like I’d known him for ten years.
Dery said he’s hopeful that Torrente’s knowledge of the business and what people want, and need will be key to Raymarine’s product development.
We’re going to outfit the raceboat and the team’s chase boat, so we expect Torrente and the rest of the team to provide honest feedback. The good news about our company is we can make changes quickly to adapt the product. I know that he can be critical, but he’s also incredibly fair. He communicates well and comes across as a person we can build the brand around.
Raymarine product is going to be installed in a new Hayaari Marine H30Z center console that is going to be powered by twin Mercury Racing 300R engines and serve as the team’s support boat. That boat isn’t expected to be ready for the season-opening race in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
Conner, who hopes to finish top of the points standings like Torrente and Belisle did in 2021, said
I’m ready to start testing and I can’t wait to be in the mix with this many boats at this level of competition—Super Stock is such a large and extremely competitive class.
Belisle, who plans to support Conner and Torrente at a few races this season, explained that offshore racing was fun but that it took up a lot of his free time.
I had an awesome time being in the boat with Torrente. He is incredible. He’s a true professional and a perfectionist. To go racing, there’s a lot more to it than being in the boat at the race. That’s a small fraction of what it takes to run a full season and I just couldn’t continue to make such a huge commitment. I’m grateful that he gave me the opportunity and made it such an amazing experience. And I’m looking forward to seeing how Tanner does in our old boat—this year should be fun to watch. I plan to be one of STR’s biggest cheerleaders right there with their families.
Look for an update from the STR team prior to Thunder on Cocoa Beach, the APBA Offshore National Championship Series season-opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla. (May 19-22).