While sailor Russ Matter claimed the trophy at the June 14 Recycle Regatta, the boat race for vessels made from recycled materials, third place proved quite lucrative for Joe Guenther, O’Maddy’s co-owner. At Saturday’s third annual Aquamania, Guenther’s team placed third in the Recycle Regatta, but because his team beat Salty’s and Stella’s, he collected on a side bet between the three popular eateries.
For the past three years, a rivalry between local businesses has grown, with Beach Bazaar newcomers Biff and Angela Lagan usurping O’Maddy’s, Salty’s and Stella’s last year. This year, Boca Ciega Yacht Club member Matter shamed all four businesses with “Recyclasuarus Rex” finishing well ahead of all the other vessels.
Guenther remained upbeat as his crew placed third, and for good reason: The stakes this year weren’t about winning; they were just about beating the other restaurants. Stella’s, Salty’s and O’Maddy’s owners bet $100 each that their boat would beat the others. Guenther lost the trophy – again – but walked away with $300.
As the other two boats pulled onto shore, Guenther swaggered into the water, taunting those who placed after him. Salty’s staff, whose life jacket backs all read “If you can read this…you must be Team O’Maddy’s,” retaliated by breaking water balloons filled with green food coloring over his head. He responded with a smile, flashing his green-stained money.
Every year the Regatta has gained popularity with downtown businesses. This year newcomer Mark Amis, of Little Tommie’s Tiki, joined the smack talk and taunting in the weeks prior to the race. Little Tommies Tiki did not beat O’Maddy’s.
“I’m gonna have to eat some crow this year,” Amis said. “Next year, he’s in trouble.”
After the race, Guenther said he didn’t mind coming not taking first place – with a few conditions.
“I love coming in third, as long as I was ahead of Salty’s, and Stella’s, and Little Tommies Tiki. And of course, Smokin’ J’s,” he said, adding he owed Beach Bazaar owners Biff and Angela Lagan a pitcher of beer. The Beach Bazaar boat placed second, just ahead of O’Maddy’s.
Guenther stressed that although he placed third, he had more people on his boat than the first or second place winners.
“I would like to see a four man minimum,” he says of the teams. “We had eight people on our team. It’s all about building camaraderie.”
Guenther did have a message he asked us to send the other local restaurants: “If you’re another restaurant reading this, you must be behind O’Maddy’s,” he said.