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Commentary: The 2012 Miami Boat Show Rocked

Sold—this Skater 482 SS catamaran from hard-charging Skater Nation.

Sold—this Skater 482 SS catamaran from hard-charging Skater Nation.

How good was the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, which enters its final day as you read this? So good, that on Saturday, Feb. 18, as I waited for my flight back to San Francisco—like all seasoned marine journalists I stop pestering exhibitors and bail on Saturday—I got a text message from Terry Sobo, the director of sales and marketing for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats in Cape Coral, Fla.

The message read, “News flash: Nor-Tech is sold out for the 2012 model year.”

I sent one back: “No way. All production?”

Sobo responded: “No capacity left to build anything for the remainder of the model year.”

I sent one back: “I’m buying next week in Islamorada.”

Before we left the show Saturday afternoon, fellow speedonthewater.com reporter Jason Johnson and I did a hot lap of the Miami Beach Convention Center and its outdoor displays. Our first stop was the PowerboatNation.com trailer, where we hung out with Tommy Hofstetter, the owner of both PowerboatNation.com and SkaterNation.net a full-service Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Skater dealer, and Douglas Marine/Skater owner and founder Peter Hledin.

Hofstetter and Hledin were a little worn out but upbeat. The day before, the Skater Nation crew had sold the stunning Skater 482 SS catamaran in front of the booth. The buyer and his friends were so pleased with his purchase that they partied at the booth for hours.

Hardin Marine's turbo kit for Mercury's 525-hp engine was the hottest item in its display.

Hardin Marine’s turbo kit for Mercury’s 525-hp engine was the hottest item in its display.

Just outside the convention center, we bumped into Scott Price at the Hardin Marine display, where a horde of folks was ogling and groping a Mercury Racing HP525EFI engine rigged with Hardin Marine’s new turbocharger kit. Asked if the turbo kit was his company’s biggest attraction at the show, Price responded, “By far.”

Back inside, we tried unsuccessfully for the third time to chat with Tim Gallagher, the director of sales for Deep Impact Boats in his booth. As he had been before, he was caught up with show-goers. Fortunately, I’d caught up with him briefly the night before at the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual Miami Show Bash at the Raleigh Hotel. He was tired but good-tired, the kind of tired that comes from moving product from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. without a break.

On the way out of the convention center, we stopped to say goodbye to the Cigarette Racing Team crew. The place was all grins and giggles thanks to the sale of several models including, according to company owner Skip Braver, the new Mercedes AMG-inspired Black Series 50 Marauder with turbocharged 1,350-hp Mercury Racing engines. That probably explained the broad grin on the face of Fred Kiekhaefer, the president of Mercury Racing, as he stood in front of the boat.

Of course, Kiekhaefer had more than that to smile about, thanks to Thursday’s introduction of the 565 engine with digital throttle and shift, as well as a nifty carbon-fiber cover that Kiekhaefer described with a chuckle as his “big contribution.”

Mercury Racing's new 565 engine.

Mercury Racing’s new 565 engine.

Actually, Thursday was the biggest new-product introduction day I’ve seen in years. On the same morning, Ilmor Marine pulled the cover off its high-performance 570-hp LS-platform V-8 engine dressed in metallic green. About 30 minutes later outside the convention center, Outerlimits unveiled its sleek SV29 single-engine V-bottom. Another 30 minutes passed, and Statement Marine, which earned the award for Best Display at the show, pulled the sheet of its plush new 368 SUV Crossover center console.

Just a short stroll away from Deep ImpactGTMM’s new 39-foot V-bottom stood out like a sexy electric-blue siren.

In short, between new-model sales and debuts, the show was the best it’s been in years. The attendance numbers aren’t in, but everyone we spoke with said they were pleased with the turnout.

Ilmor's new 570-hp MV8 engine was dressed in lime-green paint.

Ilmor’s new 570-hp MV8 engine was dressed in lime-green paint.

“It’s the strongest show I’ve seen in at least eight years,” one boat manufacturer told me and—having been to the show 15 times in the past 17 years—I’d have to agree.

Does that mean the dog days are over for high-performance powerboat builders? Hardly. But one thing’s for sure: For several major players, this year is off to a solid start. And three days from now during the Florida Powerboat Club‘s Miami Boat Show Poker Run, I’ll head back to Florida and report on a lot of the new product as it takes to the water for the first time.

Plus, I owe Terry Sobo of Nor-Tech a drink.

Related Speedonthewater.com Stories from the 2012 Miami International Boat Show

Hustler Shows Off New Entry-Level Models

Hardin’s HTX-2 Turbocharging Kit is Well Received in Miami

Miami Show Photo Gallery, Day 2

Miami Show Photo Gallery, Day 1

Arrow’s Sonic and Spectre Out for Miami, In for Desert Storm

The GTMM 39: Ready for Its Close-Up

Miami Show Updates: Ilmor, Outerlimits and Statement

Mercury Unveils 565 Engine with Digital Throttle and Shift

Cigarette Releases ‘Firsts’ In Mercury Power Applications at Miami Show

Shogren Performance Marine and Pier 57 Merge

Cigarette Going Big with Multiple Releases in Miami