Company Heritage

 

Start of Narragansett Bay marathon race, late 50's

After growing up on the water and racing various types of outboard boats in the 50's and early 60's, Charlie McCarthy found himself in the fall of 1963 at the Mecca of powerboat racing -- Miami, Florida.

A poor college student, he had the good fortune to have a roommate from Chicago that came from a powerboat racing family. His roommate's dad, Ray Lyons, owned and sponsored an inboard race boat called "Steel City Special." This boat competed in the Orange Bowl Regatta and the Gold Coast Marathon, both major events in the world of racing at that time.

Steel City Special

Through this connection, Charlie became a member of the official pit crew for not only the "Steel City Special," but also for a good friend of Ray Lyons, who owned a seafood restaurant in Miami -- Mike Gordon. Mike campaigned boats under the name of "Fish Peddler," both an 18 foot Rayson Craft inboard endurance boat for marathons and a new 27 foot deep V boat that he planned to ocean race.

27 Foot Formula "Fish Peddler"

The 27 foot boat was built by a new company called Formula Marine. The owner of Formula was a young man who had moved to Florida from New Jersey and was a racer also. His name was Don Aronow. Charlie was able to meet the founders of this great sport and actually see some of the famous boats of the time -- people like Richard Bertram, Jim Wynne, Allen Brown, Bill Wishnick, Bob Magoon, Tony Azarra, Danny Durrough, Jake Trotter, Willy Meyers and, of course, Don Aronow.

Don Aronow and Willy Meyers

By sheer fate, Charlie was in the right place at the right time. Friendships formed during these early years in the 60's would prove so helpful in the 70's when Charlie began his own boat company.

After graduating from college, Charlie focused on starting and building his business holdings. When he felt that he had enough to allow him to go ocean racing, he went back to Miami and informed Don Aronow that he was finally going to buy a race boat, a promise he had made to Don over the years.

When Charlie asked Don to sell him a boat, Don's answer was, "No, I won't sell you one." Then he laughed and said, "What I will do for you is put you in the boating business." Charlie was aware of the many times that Don had built a boat company up, only to sell it and move next door or across the street and open up another new company. Charlie had enough to buy a race boat, but certainly not enough to buy one of Don's companies. So now it was his turn to say "No."

Don laughed again and said, "Not a company. I will sell you some of my extra molds from Cigarette. You can start your own boat company with them and that way all of the money you spend in racing will be a write-off for you as research and development costs."

Don Aronow and Charlie McCarthy

Now it began to make some sense. But how do you make boats? Don said, "Don't worry; I'll help you do this. Take the Cigarette molds back up north and hire some workers, then bring them back down here and they can train in the shop alongside my own people. Build yourself a race boat with the layup schedule I'll give you and bring it back and we will take a look at it."

Charlie did just that. Don ended up rigging the new race boat for him and building him a newer lighter deck. He also had Stan Irwin of Custom Marine build special engines for him.

The first banana boat

The poor college student that used to hang around the shops as a pain in the neck, always trying to figure out a way to get a test ride in one of the many race boats he saw built over the years, was now able to be schooled by the master -- not only in building, but in marketing, too.

Aronow's banana boat

Don had designed a very narrow 27 foot race boat that had a less than 7 foot beam many years before. He built the boats in a bright yellow gel coat and they quickly picked up the name Aronow's banana boats. Don suggested that Charlie also choose a name that was not marine related -- something different, something people would remember. Don had used Formula, Donzi and Magnum before his current boat company, which was Cigarette.

Don Aronow

So Charlie took the name banana boat for his new company and it quickly caught on with the public. The sleek boat was just the opposite of what was expected with the name banana boat.

Don also advised Charlie to always use his own name in all his advertising so that if he ever wanted to sell the company as Don had done, all the advertising dollars spent would not be wasted. For example, Don's ads always read Don Aronow's Cigarette Racing team. Each new company founded by Charlie would be Charlie McCarthy's XXXX Boat Co.

So one more time, under the guidance and help of Don Aronow, one more high performance boat company was born on NE 188th St ...  banana boat co .

Additionally, back in 1977 at the World Championships in Key West, Charlie commissioned Frenchman Jean-Claude Simon to design a new open class race boat, as well as a pleasure boat version. Simon had produced many great designs over the years -- Cary, Cobra, Excalibur, etc.

Simon designed the 38' Top Banana and 33' Banana Cruiser (which was actually 34'). The 38' boat became widely successful as the #60 "Top Banana" campaigned in 1979 and "Rums of Puerto Rico" campaigned in 1980.

Per his agreement with Charlie, Simon marketed the same hull designs with different decks for a few years under the "Coyote" brand; but eventually sold his set of the molds to Sonic back in the early 1980's.

 

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