I wanted to go to Monaco in June, but I settled for Missouri. And it worked out. Allow me to explain.
In its continuing marketing partnership with Mercedes-AMG, the Cigarette Racing Team released a spectacular 50-foot V-bottom dubbed the 50 Marauder AMG Monaco. The boat, which is powered by twin 1,550 HP quad overhead cam, turbocharged engines, was unveiled during the Monaco Grand Prix to adoring crowds. Formula 1 Mercedes- AMG Petronas Team drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton even took turns behind the wheel for a media event and promotional video.
Ignoring for a moment that I lacked an invitation, a paid assignment, and money of my own to squander, I’d have been there in a heartbeat if I didn’t have a schedule conflict (OK, that’s what I kept telling myself). The following weekend I was committed to covering the Cigarette Owners Rendezvous hosted by Performance Boat Center on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. Too much travel, too little time, too many people in too little space. I probably wouldn’t have liked Monaco anyway. Yeah, right.
On Saturday morning during the Lake of the Ozarks event, I met up with Cigarette company owner Skip Braver and his longtime production manager Bud Lorow in the Performance Boat Center showroom. Just two days earlier, Braver and Lorow had returned to the United States from—you guessed it, Monaco—and they couldn’t stop talking about it, much as I wished they would.
Eventually, we made our way to the docks and our ride for the day, the Cigarette-AMG 41 SD GT3 center-console. Powered by twin Mercury Racing 1100 engines, the boat was introduced at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show. I’d seen and reported on the breathtaking 41-footer in Miami, but I hadn’t ridden in it. So the experience of running in a 2,200 HP Cigarette center-console with 66 other Cigarettes from model years 1974 to 2016 would be a new one.
Joined by a couple of photographers, several guests including a longtime Cigarette customer and his wife, and representatives from Mercury Racing, we idled out to the starting point for the day’s lunch run.
With all the cockpit seats taken, I stood in the port walkway between the console and gunwale—not a great spot for a 30-minute ride at 80-plus-MPH, because it exposed me to the onrushing breeze. But it was the only spot I had.
The boat’s acceleration was simply massive and in short order we were running near the front of the pack. Despite my place in the boat and the unruly water conditions, that ride rocked.
It must have been pretty impressive in a comfortable seat behind the console, too (I was later told that with two people on board the day before the boat reached 110 MPH—with more left in its engines).
OK, so it wasn’t Monaco in a 50-foot AMG-inspired Cigarette Marauder. It was Missouri in a 41-foot AMG-inspired Cigarette center-console. Sometimes you have to settle. And sometimes settling works out.