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Inside Miami's Luxury Powerboat Scene

By: Scott Way

Offshore powerboats tied up at dock
Photo- VICE / Speed Daemons

Miami and offshore powerboating are synonymous. It's where it started, where it became a cultural phenomenon, and where its seedy underbelly will always be part of its mystique. Miami has one of the most vibrant boating scenes in North America, if not the world, and like many boating hotbeds its identity is very much tied to the geography and economy surrounding it.


Miami is 180 miles from Nassau, Bahamas and enjoys perfect boating weather nearly 365 days a year. Its geographical connection to the West Indies and South America, not to mention its entry point at the southern tip of North America, make it the ideal port of call for those both above and below the law.


In much the same way NASCAR evolved in rural America thanks to moonshiners trying to outrun prohibitionist police, offshore powerboating developed in Miami from the similarly nefarious pursuit of drug running. The influx of cocaine from South America could hardly keep up with the hungry US market, and the outlaw innovations that followed were the catalyst to boating’s need for speed. People like Don Aronow and Thunderboat Row on NE 188th Street in Miami pushed boating performance to new heights. It just so happened that some offshore enthusiasts had illicit intentions. Others, like young doctors and lawyers living the South Beach dream, were hooked on the thrill and had the money to pay for it. The influence of tv crime drama Miami Vice didn't hurt, either.


VICE just released a short documentary on Miami's boating scene, and it's a great look inside the current state of offshore powerboating. They take a ride on the Lamborghini inspired Raging Bull, check out a sandbar party, and discuss the past and the present. Right now business is booming, and legends like Larry Goldman at XTreme Powerboats and innovators like Mike Aragon at Full Throttle Marine are not only continuing the tradition for offshore racing's legitimate circuit, they're also testing the waters of what's possible with a powerboat.


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