The Miami International Boat Show launched an impressive line-up of performance driven wares ranging from the Wow! factor of MTI’s Black Diamond themed 52’ catamaran (an amazing concept of an electrical powered 38’ Cigarette Mercedes-AMG design) to the impeccable flush-mounted marine hardware of Accon Marine. Later this week, the Florida Powerboat Club’s (FPC) annual Miami Boat Show Poker Run will accelerate, displaying several machines from the show that will go runnin’ with the pack to Islamorda, Florida Keys.
Following Mercury’s show opening press conference, I caught up with former Mercury Racing President Fred Kiekhaefer. While pursuing a new consulting career, he’s dedicated himself to his self-admitted #1 client – Mercury. “I’ve got to make sure my friends do good. I’m doing some prospecting for the house, ideas are percolating. It’s an interesting concept and direction…pushing the envelope a bit.” To be continued…
After spending three days walking the aisles, I learned exhibitor comments and initial industry reports boasted a common trending towards smooth seas: a sales increase over the 2012 numbers and return of quality buyers. Didn’t make it to the show? Well, here’s a rundown of several innovative designs that took center stage.
MERCURY 1650 RACE ENGINE
Black is Back! The new 1650 Race engine sporting black, silver and carbon fiber accents enhance the muscle of this latest power package from Mercury Racing geared to set a new standard in the offshore racing arena. According to Mercury Racing Senior Marketing Manager Rick Mackie, it will be available “to qualified powerboat racing professionals.” And what better first-on-the-block team to put the 1650s to the test than Marc Granet and Scott Begovich of Miss GEICO Racing. “Two of the biggest names in the sport are teaming up,” Granet said. “It doesn’t get any bigger. We will be working with Erik [Christiansen, GM for Mercury Racing] and plan on a lot of testing before hitting the 2013 race circuits. We’re determined to get it right.”
Formula joined forces with Ilmor in a dynamic debut featuring a 353 FASTech outfitted with the new MV8-570 engines docked at Sea Isle Marina. “We just got it in the water a couple of days ago,” Formula President Scott Porter told me. Dressed in “Stilleto,” the 353 boasts black, silver and red fades down the side and around the deck – a departure from the traditional FASTech look. “We twisted our paint guy up a bit with this one. It’s the best of both worlds. We’re still getting it dialed in, it’s running in the low 80s.”
MARINE TECHNOLOGY INC. (MTI)
“It’s a whole new world,” Larry Goldman of Extreme Marine said as I walked up to the MTI display…yes, it really is. While MTI unveiled a pair of new 38 and 52 cats set to hit the waters at the upcoming FPC poker run, the already “Sold” 52’ Black Diamond was a scene stealer: six seats with built in A/C, customized electronics, outrageous red lighting and outfitted with twin Mercury Racing 1350s.
Although the highly anticipated MTI-V 42 Center-Console was missing from the booth’s fleet, the prototype was available for demo rides. “We were close, but it wasn’t 100 percent,” MTI’s Randy Scism explained. “We’re the high end of the cat market, so we wanted to do a high-end center console. It’s truly a different center console: epoxy vacuum-bagged, loaded with exclusive MTI components including a patented slot V bottom. It runs like a cat, but doesn’t slip and slide like a V. And like any boat (with the best design and construction) until you put it in the water, you don’t know what it’s going to do. It’s either hero or zero.”
What a Statement…the 42 “Ultimate” vee-hull grabbed the spotlight as crowds got an up close look at the company’s new star. Decked out in glowing orange/green metallic shades and equipped with a pair of Mercury Racing 1100 hp engines, the “Ultimate” high performance machine splashes the big screen waters in the action comedy movie “Pain & Gain” to be released April 26. Craig Barrie, who recently came on board, plans to work with principals to expand the company’s horizons. “The guys [Todd Werner and Nick Buis] at Statement have put a lot of energy, time and creativity into their product. At this point they’ve paid their dues and now they want to expand the brand via the international market into a custom, high-quality company.”
Luring enthusiasts from around the globe to experience back-to-back power weekend events, this annual performance gathering doesn’t stop when the show doors close. Loyalists with revved-up machines are ready to test the poker run waters. “We’ve maximized our venue capacity,” FPC’s Stu Jones said. “I’m looking forward to next week. We’re putting our best foot forward with this new safety initiative,” he explained of his joint efforts with the Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to provide emergency response capacity to FPC poker runners. “This is a sold-out venue. With close to 90 boats registered, it takes this event to levels that we had seven, eight years ago. It’s a sign of better things to come. The performance boating world is alive and well.”
Bobbye Miller Kenyon’s high performance articles have appeared in Hot Boat Magazine, along with fast-paced marine industry news in her Hot Sheet Column from 1997 – 2008. Her company, Offshore Public Relations, is a multi-faceted firm that has represented marine industry leaders and champions of the offshore racing arena. A native Miamian, she enjoys boating off the Florida Keys waters of Key Largo to Islamorada and the lakes of the Kentucky countryside.