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THE BARBER OF BOATING

THE BARBER OF BOATING

by November 15, 2015 0 comments

Steve Ackerie, or simply Stefan to us Gold Coast locals, has been the flamboyant hairdressing tycoon cum offshore powerboat racing guru since the 1980s.

 

In a racing career that spanned three decades, Stefan ‘The Barber’—as he is affectionately named by the boat racing fraternity—won Australian offshore titles in 1985, 1987-88, 1990-91, and 2002. As well as these championships, he set many long distance powerboat speed records, such as Sydney-to-Brisbane and Cairns-to-Brisbane. During the Sydney-to-Newcastle race Stefan’s boat spun at high speed narrowly avoiding a life threatening crash believed to have been caused by a collision with a submerged shipping container.

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Stefan’s involvement in powerboat racing started when he was asked to sponsor a boat in the early 80s. One day, he was taken out for a test drive and found that rather than being scared, he actually loved it, so he started competing in events. Then, by chance, the man who had the best boat and team in Australia passed them on to Stefan when he retired from the sport and his international power boat racing career went from there.

Stefan’s earliest power boat, which was driven by petrol engines, exploded during a New Zealand race in 1989 with him and his crew having to jump for their lives as the boat burst into flames. This era of Australian powerboat racing was extremely dangerous. For example, a controversial NSW law outlawed safety harnesses as it was considered that boat occupants had a better chance of survival if thrown out of the boat. So rough was the ride that specially designed padded seaters were used as the boats skimmed the water surface in danger of “stuffing” a wave bow-first or barrel-rolling the boat. The crew sat three abreast, all wearing helmets and life vests. A driver steered the boat through the waves, the throttle man controlled speed and trim tabs, and the third would navigate the course.

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In 1993, Stefan and his three other crewmen smashed the Bass Straight crossing in his $1 million powerboat Jager Paris. In just five and a half hours they raced the clock from St Kilda Pier in Melbourne to the mouth of the Tamar River in Tasmania. A journey of 236 nautical miles through huge seas. Stefan’s boat was powered by two 1350-horsepower engines capable of a top-speed of 285kph. And just three months later, Stefan made an extremely dangerous record breaking crossing of Malaysia’s Malacca Straits in rough seas with five-metre high waves and bad weather.

 

In 1999, Stefan’s new big and bright pink aluminium catamaran, aptly named Stefan Shampoo and sponsored by his own Jager Cosmetics that was built on the Gold Coast, and powered by twin 12-litre V-8 Detroit diesels, punched out 2700 horsepower racing at 90-plus knots. This placed the boat at the forefront of the Australian competition and up there with the big league international spectacle for Class 1 Offshore powerboat fans around the world, with boats skipping across the water at top speeds of 240kph and some international teams reporting race budgets of $50 million.

With such an eventful boating history, Stefan has been an outstanding ambassador for Australian powerboat racing and for Gold Coast boating. His not-so-secret mantra that is the driving force behind not only his boat racing success but his commercial business trading accomplishment is: “Believe in yourself and never, never, never give up!”

stefan boating world showroom

 

In 2012 he established Stefan Boating World with showroom on Waterways Drive Coomera that can house up to 400 boats at any one time. Stefan has personally scanned the worlds best boat builders to offer a range of brands with many models ready for immediate delivery and all outboards powered by Yamaha. These include Karnic, Chaparral, Scout, Sea Jay, Anglapro, Highfield, Oceania, Morningstar, Reflex, FX and Fibrafort.

 

Editorial by Andy Kancachian

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