If memory serves, I have covered the annual Miami International Boat Show 13 times. The first ten were for Powerboat magazine when coverage meant wining and dining our advertisers. (How I miss those days.) The last three have been for boats.com and for speedonthewater.com, and coverage means actually having to gather news and produce stories. What a difference an economic recession makes.
Still, I’m always game for the Miami Show, and this year I’m particularly pumped. Opening on February 14, this year’s show will feature some of the coolest and most-anticipated high-performance powerboat hardware in the history of the event.
Unlike most folks who use the show as a vacation (and why not?) it’s work for me, and to that end I get in, do my job, and get home. That means going in with a game plan based on knowing what I absolutely need to see, which in turn means making dozens of phone calls to the heads of go-fast boat companies to find out they’re bringing.
What I end up with is, for all intents and purposes, a hit list of the stuff I need to check out and things I need to do in less than 72 hours. Those of you who are going to show can use this list to help you navigate your way through the Miami Convention Center and the in-water display at Sea Isle Marina. As for those of you who can’t make it, at least you’ll know what you missed.
To keep things manageable, I’ve separated this feature into two parts, each with seven go-fast boats and/or products you have to see. (Read Part II)
1. Ilmor 570-Powered Formula 353 FAS3Tech. Last year, Ilmor Marine introduced its MV8 570 engine with hopes of having it to consumers last summer. The engine is for all intents and purposes a non-catalyzed version of the 7.4-litre—or 454 cubic inches if you prefer—engine Ilmor is building for MasterCraft. The planned release dates came and went, but in the twin-engine 35-foot Formula, a 10,000-pound sportboat, Ilmor chose an intriguing showcase for its LS-platform based powerplants. And the boat will be in the water at Sea Isle Marina.
2. Cigarette Racing Team and Mercedes-AMG Ride Again. Don’t think for a moment that the AMG-inspired Cigarette 42’ Huntress performance center console will be the only big news released by Cigarette on media/VIP day—that’s Thursday, Feb. 14—at 10:45 a.m. in the convention center. But what else is coming? Only Skip Braver, the owner and chief executive officer of Cigarette, and a select few members of his team and the Mercedes-AMG team know for sure, and they’re not telling. Says Braver, “We are going to be unveiling an unbelievable new technology that’s the result of a collaboration between Cigarette and AMG.” If you want to know more you’ll either have to be there or wait for my report.
3. Mercury Racing Has Big Secret Plans. A longstanding and strictly enforced non-disclosure agreement I have with Mercury Racing prevents me from releasing any details on what the world’s top high-performance marine engine maker plans to unveil at the Miami Show, but I can say this: Showgoers of the high-performance kind will want to be at the Mercury Racing display when the sheet comes off the company’s latest and greatest on media/VIP day. I hate being cryptic almost as much as I would hate being sued for breaching my NDA, but trust me when I say you should be at the Mercury booth in the convention center if you can.
4. Outerlimits SV50—Beyond Sexy. As I write this, I am relatively certain Mike Fiore and his crew are burning the midnight oil finishing their first SV50, which is a low-deck, sit-down stepped V-bottom based on the Bristol, R.I., company’s full-stand-up-cockpit, full-cabin SL 52. To power the new 50-footer to speeds that could—key word—approach 150 mph, the builder chose twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines. Last year, Outerlimits went small and made a big splash with its SV29, the builder’s first single-engine V-bottom. With the release of the SV50 this year, the company returns to its big-boat roots. And you can catch it outside the convention center.
5. Statement Marine Showing Off Company Firsts. Statement has built a few 50-foot cats since it introduced the model a few years ago—one even had a spa-tub aft of the cockpit. But this year at the Miami Show, the St. Petersburg, Fla., company is showcasing its first 50-footer with twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines. The company also is debuting its first 368 Crossover SUV—the stunning center console the builder unveiled at last year’s event—with four outboards. Powered by quad 300-hp Mercury Verados, the 36-footer will head from the show when it closes to the Miami Boat Show Poker Run the following weekend. Like the 50-foot cat, it will be on display at the Statement booth in the convention center.
6. Sunsation Getting Centered. It took time—more than two years—and sacrifice—skipping the Miami Show in 2012—but Sunsation Performance Boats of Algonac, Mich., has completed its first 34-foot center console and will debut the model, which is powered by twin 300-hp Mercury Verado outboard engines, in the water at Sea Isle Marina. Sunsation reportedly has several orders for the 34-footer, and it is sure to be a hot ticket for demo rides at the docks. You’ll want to get there early if a ride in the new model (reportedly will be the first in a series of center consoles) is what you’re after.
7.The Return of Baja. The smallest of my must-see go-fast boats, the Baja GT-30, actually made its debut at the 2012 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. (It’s shown at the top of this article.) But like a lot of freelance media types with limited resources—specifically time and money—I tend to choose Miami over Fort Lauderdale, so it will be my first chance to see the 30-footer in the flesh, or fiberglass. The GT-30 represents more than the potential resurrection of Baja, a brand that brought thousands of people into the go-fast world. It represents the potential resurrection of production-built performance boats, period. For that reason a visit to the Baja display inside the convention center is a must.
Hungry for more insider suggestions? Read Go-Fast Boats at the Miami Show, Part II: Even More You Don’t Want to Miss