You can argue about whether the new Miami International Boat Show venue at Miami Marine Stadium and Park on Virginia is better than the old one — never to come back by all reports — at the Miami Convention Center in South Beach. Everyone has an opinion and, for what it’s worth as a reporter who’s covered the event since 1994, mine is that the new location is breath of fresh air, albeit one that required plenty of long exhales from attendees while they waited for their rides to and from the new spot in its rocky first year.
But what no sane observer of the show can argue is its importance to the high-performance marine industry. As a go-fast boat builder, engine company or aftermarket parts manufacturer, if you want to show off something new, you do it at the Miami show in February. For there is no brighter spotlight.
Yet for good reason many boat builders take off the last week of December and return to work after New Year’s Day, and that creates an annual time crunch. A lost week of production in any labor-intensive industry is a big deal, particularly those in which most of the labor is done by hand. So why does Cigarette Racing Team, Skater Powerboats, Mystic Powerboats and so many other companies shut down before Christmas and reopen after New Year’s Day just one month prior to their most important event of the season?
Because they need to, desperately in some cases.
If you’ve never been to a boat-building facility, you need to go. That’s the only way to truly appreciate how hard — make that backbreaking — the work can be. From lamination to engine installation, serious manual labor in often less-than-comfortable spaces is the norm in producing custom high-performance powerboats. Shutting down for a week during the holidays to give the folks who do that work a break, though some sneak back in for a few hours, isn’t just humane. It’s essential for body and soul.
But when those workers return in January, it’s full steam ahead until the move-in time for the Miami event a month away.
Just ask Tony Cutsuries of Skater Powerboats. When the Skater crew returns, they need to finish the first domestic catamaran — a 36-foot-ish model — powered by Mercury Racing 400 ROS outboard engines as well as a 388 cat with 1,100-hp Sterling Performance engines. Both will be displayed in Miami.
Skip Braver and company at Cigarette Racing Team don’t just have Bob Christie’s 39 GTS performance center console, the one you’ve read about here, to get ready. They have an entire fleet of boats, including another Mercedes AMG-inspired creation, that need to be done and delivered for company’s traditionally over-the-top exhibit.
Mystic Powerboats has to put the finishing touches on two new M4200 luxury center console to accompany its also new-for-2017 M4200 RF (Recreational Fish package) model that the company will showcase in Miami. The Mystic crew will work right up to the wire to make it happen.
And those are just three of the players in the game.
But while you could say a week of downtime is the last thing these and other boat builders need before Miami, it’s actually what they need most. Yes, they’ll likely return to deadline pressure, extended hours and more than a few late nights and long weekends. But they’ll come back recharged and ready to take it on—at least that’s the goal—so we can all enjoy the fruits of their labor in Miami a month later.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.