Barry gets a little rambunctious around the water! That's the warning Barry Zekelman's father used to issue to friends who took his young son along on their South Florida vacations.
"I guess I'm still that way!" laughs Zekelman, recalling his early love for the water-and for speed. "I used to race motocross, cars-I'm still a car fanatic- it's the adrenaline, the rush!" says the man who owns various Ferrari Enzos, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Mercedes- in addition to a new 50-foot Outerlimits catamaran with turbine power.
Man of Steel, as the Outerlimits is also known, and its Z-emblem have been Zekelman's on-water identity for the past 18 years, as his business is Atlas Tubing, the largest manufacturer of steel tubing on the continent. Other aptly named boats in his fleet have included 39-foot and 63-foot Sea Rays, a 75-foot Sunseeker, an 88-foot Leopard, a 92-foot Mangusta, and a 123-foot Heesen-before the new 164-footer. And that's not counting a 35-foot Cigarette Café Racer, 42-foot Aronow, 42-foot Comanche, and two 46-foot Skaters.
"I'm still very loyal to Peter [Hledin of Douglas Marine, manufacturer of Skater catamarans] but the timing wasn't right," says Zekelman. "I wanted something different and the closed-canopy Outerlimits with turbines seem to fit. I got passed by a turbine boat in a Poker Run." With maybe a tad of competitiveness, he decided to power this new boat with Lycoming helicopter engines, capable of speeds over 200 mph.
"I like the torque, pick-up, and acceleration, even more than the top-end speed," says Zekelman, but considering his last state-of-the-art 46-foot Skater had 1,500-horsepower Sterling Performance engines, it seems safe to say that "top end" is still a factor in this Man of Steel's performance choices.
But Zekelman is a true family boater- not just a go-fast enthusiast. The luxury yacht and the speedy powerboat are two aspects of his zeal.
"I just love being out on the water-I don't care if it's in the yacht, a boat, or a Sea-Doo!" he says. "The big boat stays in the islands-that's to clear my head and to relax. But the speedboats stay behind my house (on Lake St. Clair, across from Detroit, in Windsor, Canada). I love the convenience-we just drop it in the water, go for a run, put it back on the lift, and jump in the pool!"
Weekends are for family, so his wife Stephanie and two children are used to the dual boating lifestyles. "They're two different things and they like them both," Zekelman says. The powerboat has tremendous visual appeal with its own personality. "Man of Steel is a superhero-he's unstoppable, nobody can beat him, and he's out for justice!" is how Zekelman describes the character he presents to painters for inspiration as they create his theme boats. Dean Loucks of The Art of Design in Elkhart, Indiana, took on the most recent design and paint challenge for Zekelman, including a Peterbuilt tow truck for boat transportation to select recreational events. Though this boat was designed as a showstopper, Zekelman talks about his spectacular boat modestly. "I don't need to go out and show off, this is just for me!" he says, "I gave Dean a lot of freedom-he's a very creative guy and I'm very pleased!"
At press time, the boat was undergoing testing at Turbine Marine in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where Zekelman will do some seat time to "dial it in."
"I don't want to get out there without getting to know turbines," he said. Then it will be back to northern Michigan, where Zekelman finds a brief escape from the everyday-where he can don his Z-emblem speedster like a $2 million costume and become Man of Steel-if only for a few stolen hours with his family. There is justice in that and yes, Barry is still rambunctious around the water!