Wilson bests Griffith in 1956 Gold Coast Marathon by 30 seconds

Both in 266 cubic inch hydroplanes, Stu Wilson of Fort Lauderdale bested Sam Griffith, the creator of the two-day speed boat event in the Intracoastal Waterway from Griffith’s Pelican Bay Yacht Club in Miami to West Palm Beach and back to Miami the next day.

Run annually since 1949, the event drew over two hundred speed boats in more than a dozen classes from small runabouts with small outboard engines to hydroplanes 17 feet long powered by inboard and outboard engines generating 300 h.p. The 28-year-old Griffith had never run the course in his 17 foot hydro.  Wilson planned to follow Griffith.  Unlike Griffith, Wilson also did not have enough fuel to make it to West Palm Beach,,planning to stop at the Cove in Deerfield Beach for enough fuel to finish.  While both ran neck and neck most of the way back to Deerfield, Wilson saw Griffith go by at between 65 and 90 m.p.h. With enough gas, Wilson caught Griffith and finished 37 seconds ahead of Griffith.

Many of the contestant stayed overnight in Miami.  Wilson drove back home by automobile, for an early rise the next morning to drive back to the boats fenced in a large guarded lot in West Palm Beach.

Sunday morning, on the return to Miami,  Wilson and Griffith fiercely pushed their hydros to the limit, averaging more than 60 m.p.h. In the inland waterway, avoiding shoals, snags, and parts of derelict vessels just beneath the water’s surface.  Wilson again beat Griffith to the finish line by a mere 30 seconds.

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