There’s a reason “Miami Vice”—that cheesy 1980s television show that inspired a generation of powerboat owners to take to the water and buy white linen jackets—was set in what could be this country’s most international city rather than Tampa or Sarasota on the other side of the Sunshine State. The history of the go-fast boating industry, starting with Cigarette Racing Team and its fast-living entrepreneur Don Aronow’s various other brands, is rooted in the Miami area, so it was only natural that a community of devoted enthusiasts grew up around it.
What side of the Sunshine State is better for high-performance powerboat enthusiasts? You make the call. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But while South Florida’s East Coast was claiming the limelight, the state’s other coast— the “sleepy one” by reputation—was quietly developing a vibrant go-fast boating scene of its own. Under the Wellcraft umbrella, the production of the Scarab found a home in Sarasota, as did Donzi under American Marine Holdings. Fed up with urban density and the problems that come with it in Miami and its adjacent South Florida communities, waves of go-fast-boat-loving Floridians made the move to cities such as Tampa, Sarasota/Bradenton, Fort Myers and Naples. True, those cities mostly tend to roll up their sidewalks at 10 p.m. But that also was part of the attraction for escaping the 24/7 nature of Florida’s East Coast scene.
And for the second-home contingent of performance boat owners from the Midwest, Canada and (eventually) the Northeast, Florida’s West Coast became the place to be. While real estate prices there have skyrocketed in recent years, a waterfront home with a dock was—key word—far more attainable on the western side of the state.
That leads us to the present, where Florida has vibrant go-fast boating communities on both coasts, and one big, fun question. Which side of the state is better for powerboat owners?