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Commentary: Whatever Floats Your Boat

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Last September during the Cigarette Rendezvous in Destin, Fla., I got to hang out with a bunch of cool people for a couple of days. Among them was a successful guy from Chicago. He owns a bunch toys including exotic cars, a helicopter and a private jet—that’s how he got to the event. (I tried to convince him to drop me in San Francisco “on his way” back to Chicago, but he politely declined.) He also owned a 42 Cigarette.

Guess which toy is his favorite? The Cigarette, of course.

“It’s not even close,” he told me.

And I wasn’t even close to surprised. I talk to high-performance powerboat owners every day, and they all have one thing in common. They love their boat more than anything else they own. And they love to talk about it.

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Take the guy I rode mountain bikes with two summers ago at Lake Tahoe in California. When he found that I write about go-fast boats, I couldn’t shut him up. Not about the epic trail we were riding, his one-off mountain bike or his lakeside showplace home. Instead, he pretty much yakked my ear off about his 38-foot Formula sportboat, even as we rode on this super technical trail where the penalty for inattention was a 500-foot plunge to a boulder field.

Of course, because I write about go-fast boats I am—pardon the pun— a target audience for go-fast boat owners. I listen carefully and ask follow-up questions. And while details of each story interest me, it’s the passion behind them that has me addicted to listening. They get happier and happier as they tell their stories, and in a weird way so do I. It’s contagious.

I never judge the objects of their affection. We’re talking about the toys people love. It is no more or less ridiculous to restore an old Chaparral sportboat and power it with a hopped-up piston engine than it is to restore an old Apache wave-crusher and power it with turbines. The value of any boat is in how much joy it brings its owner. That is the only guaranteed return on investment.

The same goes for new boats. It isn’t any more ridiculous to spend $1 million on a catamaran with six seats and no cabin than $1 million on a V-bottom with five seats and a cabin no one will use for anything other than storing footwear, coolers, sunscreen and jackets. If you’re judging it all, you’re missing the point. It doesn’t have to make sense to you or me. It only has to make sense to the guy spending the money.

You’ve heard that a man’s home is his castle, right? Well, my friends, a man’s go-fast boat is his weekend getaway place, and a weekend getaway place, let’s face it, is a hell of a lot more fun than a castle. New or old, fast or slow, it really doesn’t matter because it takes all kinds. All that matters is that it brings you joy when you turn the key.

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