Already celebrating its 50th anniversary in high style with the release of its spectacular 59-foot Tirranna sport yacht/super console and yet another stunning collaboration with Mercedes-AMG in the form of a 41-foot center console—both introduced at the Miami International Boat Show in February—Cigarette Racing Team has made yet another impressive move by naming Erik Christiansen its new president. The move was announced by Skip Braver, the owner and chief executive officer of the company, this morning.
Headquartered in Opa-locka, Fla., Cigarette Racing Team will celebrate most of its 50th anniversary year with Erik Christiansen as president.
“I am not leaving the company, retiring from the company or selling the company,” Braver said. “In bringing on Erik, we are positioning Cigarette for a stronger present and an even stronger future. Erik will have the ultimate authority in running the company. He will make those decisions, from to day to day to month to month. He won’t be coming to me to ask permission. I am giving him the responsibility to run this company.”
A little more than a year ago, Christiansen departed high-performance marine engine and accessories leader Mercury Racing as its general manager to pursue an opportunity outside the marine industry. During his 21-year tenure at Mercury Marine, including the five years at Mercury Racing, Christiansen spearheaded multiple successful engine development projects including the 1075SCi and the entire Quad Cam Four Valve (QC4v) turbocharged engine series currently dominating the stern-drive power market.
Despite his time away from the high-performance powerboat world, Christiansen never lost his passion for it. Leading Cigarette is equal parts a dream come true and a homecoming for the 51-year-old engineer, who also holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.
“It’s definitely an exciting adventure and a dream job for me,”Christiansen said. “When I first worked on the Mercury Racing 1050 program, which evolved to become the 1075 engine, the very first boat I worked on was the famous American Muscle Cigarette. We have done a lot of great projects together over the years and it’s incredibly cool to be here with Skip and (longtime Cigarette employee) Bud Lorow. Bud was one of the first people I met at Cigarette and I couldn’t be happier to be working with him, Skip and the rest of the Cigarette team.”
While leading Mercury Racing, Christiansen (far right, front row with the team that developed the company’s Quad Cam Four Valve turbocharged engine series) also worked closely with the team at Cigarette.
Braver and Christiansen met with the Cigarette Racing Team this morning to explain the transition and emphasize Christiansen’s role. As for Braver, he will continue to focus on future projects, from new boats to branding and merchandising. He’ll work closely with Christiansen when collaboration on such projects is needed, but he was careful to reemphasize that Cigarette’s new president will be running the company.
“The world is changing and Cigarette is changing with it,” he continued. “We are not a marine company or a high-performance boat company—we are a lifestyle company. We want to be No. 1 at what we do, not necessarily the ‘biggest’ company, just the best at what we do. Cigarette has an unbelievable brand name and we want to make it grow.”