March 21, 2024

Cigarette Boat: Still The King Of Go-Fast Boats in 2024?

Cigarette boats, also known as go-fast boats, have long been linked with high performance and exhilaration on the water. These boats, ranging from 28 feet to 48 feet in length, are specifically designed with a long, narrow platform and a planing hull to achieve speeds over 50 knots. Founded by Don Aronow, Cigarette boats have dominated the offshore racing world for more than a decade, earning their reputation as the king of go-fast boats.

However, advancements in technology and design have introduced new players in the market, spurring competition and evolution in the industry. As a result, many enthusiasts ask whether cigarette boats still hold the title of the ultimate go-fast machines. In this article, we'll delve into the history, design, and performance of cigarette boats, exploring their status in the current landscape and future prospects for these iconic vessels.

Key Takeaways

  • Cigarette boats have a rich history, but competition and innovation have led to the exploration of new designs and technologies.
  • Performance and engineering remain defining factors for go-fast boats, with iconic models continuing to make an impact in the industry.
  • The future prospects for cigarette boats include technological innovations and emerging alternatives, which could reshape the boat ownership experience.

The Legacy of Cigarette Boats

Birth of High-Performance Boats

Cigarette boats, known for their speed and sleek design, have become synonymous with high-performance powerboats. Their legacy dates back to the era of rum-running during the United States alcohol prohibition. These vessels were designed to transfer illegal liquor from larger ships to the mainland, avoiding interception by law enforcement due to their impressive speed capabilities.

In more recent history, cigarette boats have been associated with drug smuggling in the Caribbean. Similar to their rum-running predecessors, these go-fast boats were used to ferry drugs to the U.S. and other destinations, often outmaneuvering law enforcement vessels.

Don Aronow and Thunderboat Row

The man behind the cigarette boat was Don Aronow, a powerboat racing champion and boat builder. In 1969, he founded the Cigarette Racing Team and started manufacturing high-performance boats, taking inspiration from his own racing experiences.

Aronow's workshop was located on NE 188th Street in North Miami, Florida, an area known as Thunderboat Row. This street became the epicenter of the go-fast boat world, with several other boat builders setting up shops alongside Aronow's Cigarette Racing Team. Thunderboat Row was arguably the place where the most cutting-edge and powerful boats were designed and built.

Over the years, cigarette boats continued to evolve and gain popularity, eventually cementing their status as the king of go-fast boats. Today, they remain a symbol of power, speed, and style in the world of powerboats, a testament to Don Aronow's ingenuity and the legacy of Thunderboat Row.

Design Evolution of Go-Fast Boats

V-Hull Versus Catamaran

In the world of high-performance boats, two primary designs have dominated the market: the traditional V-hull and the more recent catamaran. V-hull boats, like their name suggests, have a V-shaped hull that cuts through the water, providing stability and handling at high speeds. This design has been used for decades, with the iconic Cigarette boats serving as an early example. Catamarans, on the other hand, are built with two parallel hulls that are joined together, creating a wide platform. This design offers more stability and a smoother ride on rough waters compared to the V-hull, but it may not provide the same exhilarating experience when slicing through waves.

With the increased use of catamarans in high-performance boating, there has been a growing debate about which design is superior. While V-hull boats tend to be faster and more maneuverable, catamarans can produce higher top speeds and offer better fuel efficiency. Ultimately, the choice between the two designs depends on the user's preferences and the specific conditions they expect to encounter.

Material Advancements in Boat Construction

As go-fast boat designs have evolved, so too have the materials used in their construction. Traditional materials like wood and fiberglass have given way to more advanced composites like Kevlar and carbon fiber. These materials offer significant weight reduction and increased strength, allowing for more powerful engines and improved performance in various conditions.

Kevlar, originally developed as a material for bulletproof vests, has found its way into the world of high-performance boats due to its incredible strength and durability. Boats built using Kevlar have shown considerable improvement in impact resistance and overall longevity. By using these advanced materials, boat manufacturers can create faster and more rugged vessels, pushing the boundaries of what was once thought possible.

Another breakthrough in go-fast boat design is the development of planing hulls, which enable boats to "skip" across the water's surface, reducing drag and increasing speed. The use of tunnels in catamarans is another innovation that has contributed to their improved performance. These tunnels create an air cushion between the water and the boat, reducing drag and providing a smoother ride.

In conclusion, the design evolution of go-fast boats has been influenced by advancements in material technology and engineering, resulting in a significant improvement in performance and capabilities. From the classic V-hull to the modern catamaran, these high-performance vessels continue to push the boundaries of speed and agility on the water.

Performance and Engineering

Power and Engine Technology

Cigarette boats have a reputation for showcasing cutting-edge power and engine technologies, often partnering with leading manufacturers like Mercury Racing. For example, the most legendary go-fast boat, the Cigarette 515, achieves a top speed of 113 knots (130mph) with a price tag of $2.2 million, thanks to its powerful engine and advanced design (source).

These boats come with various power options, including stern-drive and outboard engines. The choice depends on the specific model and the owner's preferences. A popular choice for top-notch performance is the Mercury Racing 1350 engine, which delivers extreme power and efficiency. These engines utilize advanced technologies to minimize fuel consumption while providing mighty thunder on the water.

The Role of Throttle and Cockpit Layout

A well-designed throttle and cockpit layout in a Cigarette boat plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall driving experience. The throttle is the key element for controlling the boat's speed and power, while the cockpit layout determines the operator's convenience and safety.

In a go-fast boat like Cigarette, the throttle needs to be precise and responsive for smooth handling. Modern Cigarette boats have streamlined, easy-to-use throttles that are fine-tuned for performance and comfort.

The cockpit layout is designed with the utmost attention to detail, ensuring that the driver and passengers have access to all necessary controls and gauges. Ergonomics and visibility are top priorities, making the boats more user-friendly and enjoyable to drive.

In conclusion, Cigarette boats continue to dominate the go-fast boat scene, thanks to their relentless focus on performance, engineering, and superior throttle and cockpit design. With world-class partnerships like Mercury Racing, these boats will undoubtedly remain the kings of high-speed marine adventures for years to come.

Iconic Models and Industry Impact

The Top Gun and Tirranna

The Cigarette Boat brand, founded by racing legend Donald Aronow, is renowned for its high performance boats, with two of their most iconic models being the Top Gun and Tirranna. The Top Gun model, a classic offshore V-bottom, has been a staple of the go-fast boating scene for years, earning the respect of both expert boaters and enthusiasts alike. Similarly, the Tirranna model showcases the latest advancements in boat design, performance, and luxury. It represents Cigarette's commitment to innovation in the industry, as evidenced by its collaboration with the Italian yacht designer, Giorgio Cassetta.

These high performance boats are characterized by their sleek design, cutting-edge technology, and powerful engines. The inclusion of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques contribute to their exceptional speed and handling capabilities. Through these iconic models, the Cigarette Boat brand has established itself as a leader in the high-performance boating industry, pushing the boundaries of what's possible on water.

Media Portrayal and Popular Culture

The Cigarette Boat's prominence in the go-fast boating scene has not gone unnoticed by the media, and the brand is often showcased in popular culture. For instance, the popular 1980s television show Miami Vice famously featured a white Cigarette Boat named "Sirocco" which played a significant role in the series. This exposure helped solidify the brand's reputation and made it synonymous with speed, power, and luxury.

The Cigarette Boat's influence in popular culture has extended beyond television shows and entered the realm of movies and video games, further cementing the brand's impact on the public's perception of go-fast boating. Through their consistent presence in media and popular culture, Cigarette Boats have become the go-to image of high-performance boating and a symbol of speed and thrill-seeking on the open water.

The Current Landscape of Go-Fast Boats

Shifts in Market Trends

The world of go-fast boats has evolved in response to market trends, with a focus on incorporating luxury, comfort, and safety features. While classic cigarette boats remain popular, newer high-performance vessels such as offshore powerboats have gained traction in the boating community. A noticeable trend is the increasing demand for versatile boats that serve multiple purposes, such as fishing and leisure activities, without compromising speed and performance.

One example of this versatility is the growing popularity of pontoon boats, which combine the performance of traditional go-fast boats with the comfort and space needed for leisure activities. These boats also have the ability to accommodate fishing equipment, making them ideal for anglers seeking a high-performance vessel.

The Community and Lifestyle

There is a thriving community surrounding the go-fast boat lifestyle, with events such as poker runs bringing enthusiasts together to celebrate their shared passion. Poker runs are organized events where participants use personal watercraft, such as go-fast boats, to visit checkpoints, collecting playing cards to form a poker hand. The winner is determined by the best poker hand and the element of speed, creating an exciting and social atmosphere for those involved.

Although the lifestyle associated with go-fast boats may be considered extravagant by some, there is a clear emphasis on safety within the community. With modern advances in boat design and technology, manufacturers have made significant improvements in ensuring the safe operation of these high-performance vessels.

In conclusion, the go-fast boat market continues to evolve, catering to a variety of interests and preferences, from luxurious comfort to thrilling performance. The community surrounding this boating niche is vibrant and embraces both competitive events and casual leisure activities. As go-fast boats continue to thrive, we can expect to see further innovations and trends emerge, shaping the future of this exhilarating boating experience.

Technological Innovations and Future Prospects

Advancements in Fuel Efficiency and Eco-Friendly Designs

The world of Cigarette boats has seen significant technological advancements in recent years, particularly in terms of fuel efficiency and eco-friendly designs. As a result, these go-fast boats have become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, while maintaining their legendary speed and performance capabilities.

Manufacturers of Cigarette boats are implementing innovative techniques in the production of both their hull designs and propulsion systems. Cutting-edge lightweight materials are being used to reduce the overall weight of the vessels, while hydrodynamic optimizations contribute to less resistance, leading to improved fuel efficiency. Additionally, the industry is now exploring the use of alternative energy sources, such as hybrid and electric systems, to mitigate the environmental impact.

The Role of Dealers and The Used Boat Market

The used boat market plays a crucial role in the overall value, progression, and experience of the Cigarette boat industry. Dealers are responsible for maintaining a high standard of quality and precision in the sale of these high-performance vessels. They ensure that customers are provided with a diverse range of options, including pre-owned boats in excellent condition, aftermarket parts, and access to any necessary maintenance services.

In recent years, the used boat market has seen a rise in demand for Cigarette boats, as more boating enthusiasts recognize the unparalleled experience they offer. This, coupled with the technological advancements in fuel efficiency and eco-friendly designs, has made these go-fast boats a more attractive option for a wider audience.

To maintain the premium status and performance of Cigarette boats, dealers are constantly adapting to the evolving market requirements, offering a comprehensive suite of services and up-to-date information. By staying ahead of industry trends and embracing new technology, dealers help reinforce the Cigarette boat's reputation as the king of go-fast boats, ensuring long-term success in an ever-changing landscape.

Comparing Alternatives to Cigarette Boats

Manufacturer Variety and Specializations

While Cigarette is often synonymous with high-performance go-fast boats, several other manufacturers offer competitive options in the market. Some of the well-known names in the industry include Nor-Tech, MTI, Outerlimits, Donzi, Fountain, and Magnum Marine. Each of these brands brings unique characteristics and specializations to their respective boats.

Nor-Tech, for example, is known for designing and manufacturing both V-bottoms and catamarans that are often associated with poker runs and offshore powerboat racing. Similarly, MTI is recognized for its high-speed MTI Catamaran that can reach speeds of over 180 mph.

These various boat manufacturers also provide a wide range of sizes and configurations, including center-consoles, sportboats, and more. This variety within the alternative brands ensures that powerboat enthusiasts can find the perfect fit for their needs in both performance and functionality.

Comparative Analysis of Performance and Price

When comparing the alternatives to Cigarette boats, it is essential to consider the performance and price of each brand. Here is a brief comparison of some popular alternative brands, as listed on

  • Nor-Tech: Known for their versatility, these boats offer customization options and prices ranging from $300,000 to over $1 million, depending on size and features.
  • MTI: These high-end catamarans showcase top speeds and performance, with their price starting at around $1.5 million.
  • Outerlimits: Varying in size and power, these boats provide owners with an exhilarating ride, with prices starting at $500,000 and going up to over $1 million.
  • Donzi: Building boats for over half a century, Donzi offers a wide range of sizes, styles, and price points, beginning around $100,000 for a smaller model and reaching up to $800,000 for their larger, more powerful boats.
  • Fountain: With a focus on speed and efficiency, the prices for Fountain powerboats begin around $200,000 and can go up to slightly over $1 million.
  • Magnum Marine: Known for their luxurious and powerful crafts, Magnum Marine boats start at around $600,000 and range up to several million dollars for custom superyachts.

It is important to note that these price ranges are indicative, as real-life costs can vary depending on the specific model, customizations, and add-ons. In conclusion, while Cigarette boats have a rich history and impressive pedigree in the go-fast boat world, alternative options provided by other reputable manufacturers offer competitive performance, variety, and price points to cater to a diverse set of enthusiasts.

Boat Ownership Experience

Maintenance and Upkeep

Owning a Cigarette boat comes with its own set of responsibilities, particularly when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. These high-performance boats are designed for speed and power, which can cause parts to wear down faster than in other vessels. It is crucial to ensure that the boat's engine, hull, and other components are regularly checked and maintained to maintain optimal performance.

An essential part of maintaining a Cigarette boat is regularly servicing the engines. High-performance boats like these often have powerful engines that require specialized care and maintenance. Regular oil changes, fuel filter replacements, and tune-ups are necessary to keep the boat running smoothly and efficiently. In addition to keeping the engines in top condition, owners should also pay attention to the boat's hull, which may need cleaning, polishing, or even repairs to maintain its aesthetics and integrity.

Engagement in Boating Events and Culture

A significant part of the Cigarette boat ownership experience revolves around engaging in various boating events and being a part of a community that values speed and performance on the water. One popular event that Cigarette boat owners often participate in is the poker run, where participants race from one predetermined point to another, collecting playing cards along the way. The goal is to have the best poker hand at the end of the race. Such events showcase the spirit and camaraderie of the Cigarette boat community.

In addition to attending events like poker runs, Cigarette boat owners often connect with other high-performance boat enthusiasts, creating a sense of community and camaraderie among the participants. When docked at marinas or participating in boating events, these owners may engage in conversations about their experiences, share tips and insights about caring for and improving their boats, and even form lasting friendships with others who share their passion for powerful vessels and unparalleled speed on the water.

By actively participating in the Cigarette boat culture and events, owners can not only enhance their own enjoyment of their high-performance vessels but also contribute to a like-minded community where they can foster connections, learn from others, and take part in exciting events that celebrate their love for speed and adventure on the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes Cigarette Racing Team boats as leaders in the high-performance boating category?

Cigarette Racing Team boats are known for their exceptional craftsmanship and cutting-edge engineering. Their planing hull design allows them to achieve high speeds on the water, making them the preferred choice for many powerboat enthusiasts. The company was founded by Donald Aronow, a professional racer and designer, who brought his expertise and passion into the creation of the Cigarette brand.

How do Cigarette boats compare to other top performance boat brands in terms of speed and handling?

When it comes to speed and handling, Cigarette boats are often considered among the best in the industry. Their advanced hull design and powerful inboard engines contribute to their impressive performance. While there is strong competition from other boat brands, Cigarette boats demonstrate exceptional stability and control, even when speeds exceed 180 MPH.

What are the price ranges for high-end Cigarette racing boats currently on the market?

The price range for Cigarette racing boats can vary greatly depending on the model, size, and features. Most high-end models can cost anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to over a million. Keep in mind that these are luxury, high-performance vessels—and their price tags often reflect their premium status.

Can you list some of the most iconic models from the Cigarette Racing Team?

Cigarette Racing Team boats have produced numerous iconic models over the years. Some of the most famous ones include the Cigarette 38 Top Gun, Cigarette 39GTS, Cigarette 42X, and Cigarette 50 Marauder, among others. These models stand out for their sleek design and impressive performance capabilities.

What advancements have Cigarette boats made to maintain their status in the go-fast community?

Cigarette boats have continued to innovate in order to maintain their status within the go-fast boating community. The company incorporates state-of-the-art technology, lightweight materials, and high-quality components into their boat designs. They constantly look for ways to improve their engines, drives, and hulls, ensuring they remain competitive in terms of performance and handling.

Who currently owns the Cigarette Racing Team and what is their vision for the company's future?

Cigarette Racing Team has undergone several changes in ownership since its founding. As of now, the company is committed to preserving its legacy while continually innovating to meet the changing needs of the high-performance boating market. The current vision for the company involves the development of new models and technologies that will help keep Cigarette Racing Team at the forefront of the industry.

Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.