Members of the offshore powerboat racing community across the nation held out hope that 28-year-old James Jaronczyk, a Bracket 700-class competitor, would be found alive after disappearing at sea in his 22-foot Progression Nauti Boyz raceboat late Sunday afternoon off Long Island, N.Y. But those hopes vanished today as, according to News 12, a regional television news network serving Suffolk County, his body was found this morning.
Jaronczyk was a hard-charging charismatic racer. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Jaronczyk, who Offshore Powerboat Association president Ed Smith described as “an amazing young man,” was popular and respected among his fellow competitors such as Julian Maldonado of the Bracket 700 and Super Stock-class Jackhammer teams.
“I chased him around many times and vice-versa, and it always was a great time—especially after—regardless of who ended up with the checkered flag,” Maldonado said. “In one of my first races, I went flying out of my 22-foot Velocity when my driver tried to sneak inside him on turn No. 2 in Morehead City (N.C.).
“More than competition, he was a brother,” he continued. “I’m relieved for his family and friends that he was found. May he rest in peace.”
Jaronczyk finished second overall in the Bracket 700-class contest during the 2022 OPA Englewood Beach Waterfest World Championships.
The search for Jaronczyk extended beyond professional first-responders and into the local boating community.
“I would like to thank all the friends and family that have given so much of their time to assist in finding James,” Smith said. “Our hearts go out to his family for their terrible loss.”
Though veteran offshore racer Johnny Saris of Bolton Landing, N.Y., never competed against Jaronczyk, he described him as “the very definition of larger than life.” Saris praised Jaronczyk for his “contagious enthusiasm,” on and off the water.
“I didn’t know James nearly as well as his Class 700 colleagues, but every time we got to hang out, which was often, it was always a blast,” he recalled. “No matter how he finished, he was always happy.”
Memorial arrangements for Jaronczyk will be announced when they become available.
“James was one of the finest young men I have ever had the good fortune of knowing,” Smith said. “His love of offshore racing was incredible. We will all miss him terribly. Godspeed, my friend.”
James Jaronczyk reportedly treasured his time on the water.
The father of Julian Maldonado, Ricky Maldonado, who currently competes in the 450R Factory Stock class, was devastated by this morning’s news. He had watched Jaronczyk compete against his son since he started in the Bracket 700-class ranks.
“The pain we feel is excruciating—we had hopes of him being found hurt but never this,” said the senior Maldonado. “James was a fierce competitor and an extremely good driver— big part of this new generation of racers and full of passion for the sport we all love.
“As the father of racers his age (Maldonado’s older son, Ricardo, also competes in the sport), I can’t even imagine what his parents are going through,” he added. “It hurts—it hurts too much. We all have a limited amount of time here, but James’ time got shortened way too soon.”
The loss of Jaronczyk, captured here during the 2021 OPA Crystal Coast World Championships in Morehead City, N.C., has devastated the offshore powerboat racing community.
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