Thunderboat Row, Don Aronow, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, FL, Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Donzi Marine

Sometimes it is the second boat design that makes a boat building company. Don Aronow had a craving for a new design for an offshore racer. He had sold his prior design and company (Formula and its 233 boat model) on 188th Street. He was ready for step two of his plan. Don now made a new company and a new fiberglass boat. The company became Donzi Marine and the boat was a 28 foot deep vee offshore race boat. Don had Walt Walters design that boat, make its running surface a winner, and draw up the plans that caused it to be built.

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Don Aronow driving his 28' race boat 008

He and his buddies made and raced several of these fiberglass boats. The most powerful had over 1,100 horsepower in its two Ford engines. That high level of power had to use vee drives at that time. No stern drive (I/O) could stay together, either for pleasure use or racing boat use.

Boat racers were larger-than-life heroes to worship, and they all seemed to come from two addresses: NE 188th Street in North Miami, FL. and Bertram’s Miami address near the airport. Don Aronow’s “Thunderboat Row” started to grow in stature and began to pull ahead of Dick Bertram’s efforts in time. But, not yet. The 28’ while successful, did not strike gold with pleasure boat buyers. Those “Damned Donzis” were heard on the race course, but not in the boat showrooms. It took a lake and bay boat that was nimble and easy to jump in and take off in for a fast ride to make Donzi. Now it was 1964 and that nimble boat really made Donzi Marine.

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Jim Wynne with his Wyn Mill II race boat

 

The Ski Sporter, or Donzi Sweet 16, made Donzi Boats into a company. That model boat was based on a shorten version of Jim Wynne’s winning race boat, the Wyn-Mill II. Wyn Mill II was Jim’s racer as designed by Walt Walters with input from Jim and perhaps others. Walt drew up the plans and it is his name that is on them. A friend recently shared a sheet of those boat building plans with seabuddy. In the past, seabuddy incorrectly said that Jim Wynne designed this racer. These facts, as it was helpfully explained to seabuddy, were incorrect. Jim had input, he was there, but Walt’s name is on the drawings that the boat was built from. He is the designer of record.

(As an aside, the free exchange of facts and the making of boating friends that today’s internet gives seabuddy continues to amaze him.)

That boat’s hull was shortened into a 16’ 71/2” long fiberglass boat. She had the same 7’ beam and 24 degree deep vee hull bottom. These Donzi boats were designed to be small, light, and a fun ride. This boat was originally called the Ski Sporter Donzi and later it was named the Donzi Sweet 16. With its first Volvo engine and out drive set-up its top speed was in the 41 to 43 MPH range. Now one can find Sweet 16s with V-6 and V-8 power. With souped up engines, a strong sterndrive I/O and a special prop, she can deliver more speed than a sane person would enjoy.

Sweet 16 Donzi Marine Ski Sporter cockpit boat photo image

Classic fiberglass Donzi Marine boat cockpit

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Thunderboat Row, Don Aronow, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, FL, Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Donzi Marine”

  • Great article… Miami is really one of the best destinations in America… Miami city has a lot to offer when it comes to entertainment. Another thing to mention is the crazy nightlife the city has to offer… I would no doubt suggest Miami to anyone that wants to enjoy in a vibrant city.

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