Cigarette’s Big Year

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With 101 high-performance boats registered for last weekend’s fifth annual Cigarette Racing Team Owners Rendezvous hosted by Performance Boat Center at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri, the storied Opa-Locka, Fla., company accomplished something special. The three-day happening saw the largest single gathering of Cigarette sportboats and center consoles in the boat-builder’s 50-year history.

Not bad for a mid-Golden Anniversary year achievement, right? But the Lake of Ozarks gathering—and a whole lot of the success of that event has to be credited to Performance Boat Center’s Brett Manire, Mark Waddington and the rest of their hardworking crew—was just one of a few big things Cigarette has accomplished so far this year.

With 101 boats registered, last weekend’s Cigarette Owners Rendezvous was the biggest gathering of Cigarette models in the history of the company. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

In February, Cigarette Racing Team owner Skip Braver and his team introduced the 59 Tirranna at the Miami International Boat Show. Powered by six Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines, the super console/sport yacht hybrid is the largest model the company has ever produced. That his son, Chad, who holds an engineering degree from Purdue University, played a significant role in the 59-footer’s design and development was an added bonus for Braver.

As if the 59 Tirranna debut in Miami weren’t enough, the company also unveiled its 11th annual collaboration with Mercedes-AMG called the 41 AMG Carbon Fiber Edition, as well a 50th Anniversary Edition of its famed 38 Top Gun sportboat complete with patriotic American flag graphics on the bow.

Just two months later, Cigarette hit what most industry insiders see as another homerun by hiring Erik Christiansen as its president. Adding Christiansen to the Cigarette team will free Braver from the day-to-day chores of running a high-performance boat company and allow him to pursue longer-term projects and expanded marketing/branding opportunities.

Unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show, the six-outboard-engine 59 Tirranna is the largest model Cigarette Racing Team has ever built. Photo courtesy Cigarette Racing Team.

The former general manager of high-performance marine engine and accessories giant Mercury Racing in Fond du Lac, Wis., Christiansen is an accomplished engineer—his lunchtime napkin sketches inspired Mercury Racing’s market-dominating quad cam four valve engine platform—who hold a master’s degree in business from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. He is among the most respected leaders in the high-performance marine industry.

So how do you top all that? There must be some kind of 50th anniversary bash in the offing, right?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that the final form—and timing—of that celebration has yet to be determined. There’s a good chance, as in very good, that it won’t happen this year. But it will happen. And it could (key word) happen in more than one venue around the country. Never one to release information before his plans are solid, Braver will let us know when he’s ready.

But in the meantime, it’s already been a big year for Cigarette.

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