Thrilled that Magnum was allowed to enter the race, the first move would be to build a boat that could compete. This turned out to be a relatively easy thing, as Theodoli intended on racing a production boat, not a race boat, and there was a difference. In fact, the official rules for the diesel class state: “Boats must be pleasure boat models and raced with exception of cushions, etc. Equipment such as refrigeration, ice makers, stoves, radar ranges, T.V.s, and stereo sets may be removed at the owner’s discretion.” While other crews were putting on arm and knee pads to protect themselves from the tussle dealt by rough seas, the Magnum team was debating if they should bring a microwave along to heat up their lunches. In reality, it was a bit more serious than that. Theodoli wanted to not only compete in the race but also, at the very least be competitive. A new hull was laminated, 63-008E686, the eighth Magnum 63’ produced. It would be the fastest Magnum above 53’ until the second Miami-Nassau-Miami race boat was built for the 1987 race. Then an order was placed to Stewart & Stevenson for a set of 16v92s of 1250hp, which were modified for racing by Magnum’s in-house mechanic Robbie Roberts to produce 1440hp+. These motors were coupled to a special custom set of Arneson SP2000 drives with a custom set of surface propellers, created by Phil Rolla, especially for the boat’s length, weight, and power package. All said and done, the 1986 Miami-Nassau-Miami boat entered by Magnum was capable of an impressive 60mph.
Magnum 63’ (63-008)
Power: Stewart & Stevenson 16v92 (8163-7400)
Horsepower: 1250hp stock, 1440hp race modified.
Drive: Arneson SP2000
Elapsed Race Time: 7h:20min @ 49.4mph average
The crew put together for the race, would end up holding the record for the largest crew for an offshore powerboat team, with 9 members.
- Filippo Theodoli, President/CEO of Magnum Marine Corporation
- Jim Wynn, Navigator
- Craig Dorsey, President Arneson Marine
- Fred Barrett
- Joe Arcia, Electrician
- David Fruitbine
- Robbie Roberts, Chief Mechanic
- Jack Smith, Yachting Magazine
- L.F. Campello
1986 Race Competitors
The Main Event
Conditions for the race were considered to be ideal, with seas of 3-5ft between the Florida coast and Gun Cay in the Bahamas. However, the conditions over the Tongue of the Ocean, a deep undersea canyon, between the shallow Bahama banks and Nassau, would be, much bigger. The race, with a total of 8 competitors, began with the high-speed race boats taking an early lead over the Magnum 63’, now called “General’s Titan”, after the battery manufacturer that ended up sponsoring the boat. The first competitor to drop out was, Michael Reagan, son of the then President of the United States, driving his Scarab “Bud Light”. Reagan, hit something in the water almost tearing off his boat’s transom. He was lucky enough to beach his boat before it sank on Gun Cay and his race was over. As the race continued boats kept dropping out either due to the physical strain or mechanical issues. Several hours later, the two remaining competitors Spirit of New Orleans and Gentry Eagle, had made it all, the way to Nassau, ahead of the Magnum. With Tom Gentry taking the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism award for being the first boat to Nassau. However, Spirit of New Orleans had to withdraw due to a large crack being found on the sides of the race boat. The crew of Spirit and the Bahamian Coast Guard both felt that the boat stood no chance going up against the 10ft seas that were now brewing in the Tongue of the Ocean right outside Nassau harbor. Gentry Eagle, meanwhile, managed to continue on its return trip before suffering a mechanical problem near Gun Cay forcing them to retire from the race. Meanwhile, the race for the Magnum team was considered routine, even pleasant, with the biggest challenge, seemingly being boredom.
“We didn’t really race against the race boats,” said Theodoli, driver, designer, and president of Miami’s Magnum Marine “This isn’t a 90-mile-an-hour racing boat— it’s a standard off-the-sales floor 63-footer. We just set it up so we could do this race. We were out for a demonstration run and decided we’d just do our own thing.”
The end of the first Miami-Nassau-Miami race was anticlimactic, the Magnum 63’ won the race in a battle of attrition, as one by one the competitors bowed out, either due to mechanical failures or exhaustion, finishing the race in 7 hours and 20 min at an average speed of 49.4mph. The big deep vee hull and reliable diesel were a winning combination. It wasn’t an exciting race to watch, there were no thrilling passes or crashes, just man and machine vs the elements, and that along with little to no viewership, meant little to no sponsorship, meaning that the next two Miami-Nassau-Miami races would be sparsely viewed, much less attended. Racing miles from shore was indeed exciting and challenging for the racers but was uninteresting to fans unable to watch the race from shore, therefore, getting people interested was a real problem. Finally, sponsors simply didn’t want to sponsor a boat nobody would see for most of an 8hr race. Theodoli didn’t care though, because he proved what his big diesel yachts could really do, boosting both Magnum’s reputation and sales. The company’s well-heeled customers would line up for their own 60mph pleasure yacht, which could keep up with or even best the hard-core race boats.