Well-known in Garden State high-performance-boating circles for his large biceps and even larger personality, Jeff Ackerman died in his sleep sometime between last night and this morning at his home in Boonton, N.J.. He was 51 years old. His cause of death had not been determined when this story went live.
Jeff Ackerman and his 36-foot Spectre catamaran were well-known in New Jersey’s performance-boating community. Photo by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
According to Spartan Powerboat Club founder Del Flores, Ackerman inspired him to start the New Jersey-based organization three years ago. The two performance-boat and motorcycle enthusiasts were close friends for more than 20 years.
“I actually built some custom bikes for him when I ran my bike shop,” said Flores “He did security for me when I promoted motorcycle stunt shows way back when. We forged an even stronger friendship when I got into powerboating. Jeff introduced me to everyone in the powerboating community. I owe many of the friends I have in that community to him.
Captured here with Lena De Palma, his girlfriend, Jeff Ackerman was integral to the Spartan Powerboat Club.
“Jeff has been a gearhead all of his life,” he continued. “He built all of his custom bikes, cars and powerboats to the limit. He also lived his life to the limit, with no fear and no regrets. He truly was a fearless man, but more importantly he was a kind, generous and true friend. Jeff was a man who said exactly how he felt. You never left a conversation with him confused about what he meant because he always made his point crystal clear.”
Ackerman owned several performance boats during the years. His current rides were a 36-foot Spectre catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 1100 engines and an outboard engine-powered 30-foot Motion catamaran that Flores described as “his baby.” He was also partly responsible for the name of the Spartan Powerboat Club, according to its founder.
Said Flores of Ackerman featured in the slideshow above, “I owe many of the friends I have in that community to Jeff.”
“After a long day of drinking in the sun we were sitting on my deck talking about starting a club,” said Flores. “ I jokingly said, ‘Well, since all of my friends are meatheads maybe I’ll name it the Spartan Powerboat Club.’ He concurred with conviction. In short, Jeff was really the one who inspired me to pull the trigger on Spartan Powerboat Club.
“We lost a great one today,” he added. “Jeff Ackerman, you left a void that will never be filled. This is going to hurt for a long, long time.”
Ackerman, who had no children, is survived by his parents, two siblings and his girlfriend Lena Depalma.