A gentle and joyful man with a raspy voice combined with a thick New Jersey accent, Charlie Amorosi—known to his friends as “Crazy Charlie” for his general approach to piloting high-performance powerboats that included Baja Marine and Velocity Powerboats V-bottoms and Spectre catamarans—died yesterday from longtime health complications compounded by a recent COVID-19 infection in Southwest Florida. He was 77 years old.
Charlie Amorosi and his wife, Lois, were fixtures in the Garden State boating community. Photos by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
Before moving to Southwest Florida with his wife, Lois, more than a decade ago, Amorosi was a fixture of the Garden State go-fast boating scene, a crew that included Bob “Baba Ganoush” Christie (Amorosi coined the nickname for Christie, who he also called “The Bob Father”), former New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club head Dave Patnaude, “Bazooka” Joe Nasso, Thomas “Tom A” Anselmi, Frank “Frankie Five Angels” Civitano (another Amorosi-born handle), Pete Mazzo and the late Anthony (pronounced “Ant-Knee”) Sauta. From the mid-to late-1990s through the first decade of the 2000s, the tight-knit group traveled, boated and raised generally good-natured hell together.
From their weekend adventures on New Jersey’s famed Barnegat Bay to their annual group trips to Key West, Fla., for the offshore racing world championships and poker run, they were inseparable. They teased each other mercilessly and loved each other unconditionally. A former English teacher who eventually moved out of the education world and into the grocery supply business, Amorosi often found himself at the center of the group cracking jokes—and cracking up—in his high-pitched voice.
A charismatic presence, Amorosi often found himself as the center of attention.
Discontinued after its final run in 2019, the Shore Dreams for Kids event, which provided an annual early summer day of on- and off-the-water fun and food for physically and mentally challenged children and their families in Seaside Heights, N.J., galvanized the group.
“Charlie was an honest, genuine and funny guy with a heart gold,” said Tim Sharkey, a veteran New Jersey-based powerboat photographer. “He played a major role at Shore Dreams for Kids—he worked for Wakefern Food Corporation and had a tractor trailer full of food and drinks donated for the event each year.”
Both Nasso and Patnaude were part of the Shore Dreams organizing group for years. Both came to know and love the big-hearted Amorosi.
“Nobody looked more forward to Shore Dreams every year than Charlie—he loved to pay it forward,” Nasso said. “He was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met.”
Said Patnaude, “Without Crazy Charlie, there never would have been a Shore Dreams—he played a huge role. He also was one of the first members of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club. He was funny and charismatic His enthusiasm was infectious and everyone loved him.
“I did a lot of crying last night,” he added.
Captured here with his wife, Lois, Amorosi was among the first members of the former New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club.
Anselmi and Christie, both of whom are still active in the go-fast boating world, were among Amorosi’s closest friends. Though they knew he was gravely ill and unlikely to recover, yesterday’s news still hit hard.
“My heart is broken,” Anselmi wrote on his Facebook page. “We lost another great man today. God’s speed, Crazy Charlie, and thank you for being like an uncle to me. Look out for us ‘hooligans’ until we meet again.”
Christie recalled that Amorosi used to pray for him and his other boating friends in church before upcoming poker run weekends.
Flanked by Karen Conti and Joe Nasso, Charlie Amorosi was a legend in the New Jersey high-performance boating community. Photo by Bob Christie.
“This guy was special to my family and me, really special to all of us,” said Christie, his voice cracking with emotion. “Everybody loved him. He would do anything for anybody. There are very few people in this industry I would do anything for, fly anywhere for on a moment’s notice. Charlie was one of those people.”
Christie paused, for a moment, then laughed. “Charlie would always run out of gas during poker runs. He always figured he could calculate it, but he never could get it right. One time coming back from Islamorada, he told he me was having trouble with his fuel pumps. I said, ‘Both fuel pumps, Charlie? Put some gas in it.’ That was just Charlie. We lost a really special guy.”
A memorial service for Amorosi is being planned for Sunday, February 13, which would have been his 78th birthday. Speedonthewater.com will provide more information as it becomes available.