With yesterday’s death of Louis Giancontieri—known fondly by members of the Offshore Powerboat Association as “Louie The Rigger”—offshore racing lost one of its most beloved figures. Giancontieri was 67 when he died of an undisclosed illness. In addition to Louisa, his wife of 42 years, and daughters, Christina Giancontieri Mendez and Marisa Smith, Giancontieri left behind a legion of friends and fans. (Giancontieri also had a son, Louis, Jr., who died in the early 2000s.)
Captured here with family friend Jessica Spano (in red blazer), his wife Louisa and and daughters, Christina and Marisa, Louis “The Rigger” Giancontieri was a dedicated family man and a ferocious competitor. Photos by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
A private man when it came to personal matters, Giancontieri kept his health issues to himself.
“He put up the good fight—not many knew,” said Ed “Smitty” Smith, the Offshore Powerboat Association’s president and charismatic leader. “He was just that guy.”
Photographer Tim Sharkey got to know Giancontieri and his Strictly Business Fountain Powerboats raceboat through decades of shooting OPA action. He was among the veteran shooter’s favorite people in the sport.
“He was the kindest person you would ever want to meet, and one with a strong work ethic,” Sharkey said. “He went through so much to put on that Battle of the Bay race in Patchogue, New York, but he did it and the race drew huge crowds on and off the water.
“Louis was a fierce competitor and I sure am going to miss him and his deck-to-deck battles with the Wazzup team,” he continued. “My heart breaks for his wife, Louisa, and his family.”
A multi-time offshore world champion with sons Jax and Chase in the sport, Jay Muller described Giancontieri as consistently upbeat and positive.
“He was always in a good mood,” Muller said. “He was a great guy, for sure.”
A post that appeared within hours of Giancontieri’s death on the OPA Racing Facebook page defined the beloved racer and original member of the extended OPA family.
“Today OPA mourns the loss of The Rigger, Louis Giancontieri,” the post read. “To say we lost a great man would be an understatement. Louis was the lifeblood of OPA. He lived and breathed it. From our early beginnings in Camden, N.J, to our greatest heights, Louis was there. He was a great friend. Anyone who met Louis would know he had a special warmth. He’d tell you like it is, but only because he loved you.”
Offshore racing was Giancontieri’s passion and the Offshore Powerboat Association faithful were his extended family.
The post went on to describe Giancontieri in greater detail.
“He was a great mentor. In the hardest of times, Louis was there to hold your hand. He always had your back, and would never steer you wrong. He was full of life lessons, and always had a story. He was a rock-star. And he wasn’t afraid to tell you. Who could ever forget the shows in Patchogue, or the countless times Friday night parties were hijacked by Louis’ rendition of Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo?
“He was a fearless competitor,” OPA continued. “One thing you could always count on was Strictly Business being called to the podium. From the Stugots Cup to the Hall of Champions, there isn’t a major trophy without his fingerprints on it. But most of all, Louis was a family man. Our hearts bleed for the Giancontieris. The second family is here, and our arms are wide open. We’ll miss you. It was an honor and a privilege. Race in Peace V-6, Louis ‘The Rigger’ Giancontieri.”
Close races between Wazzup and Strictly Business are part of Giancontieri’s legacy.
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