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How Finger Licking Good Kicked The Bucket

For Brett Manire of Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach, Mo., and his friend and customer Greg Hecht, who lives in the St. Louis area, things will come full circle early next week when Performance Boat Center delivers a Sunsation Boats 32 CCX high-performance center console to Hecht’s new second home in Cape Coral, Fla. Once a diehard performance-boat enthusiast with a condominium on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks, Hecht and his wife, Dawn, exited the go-fast boating several years ago when their daughter, Madison, started high school. Now, he’s back in the game, so to speak, with a striking new center console.

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A former Cigarette sportboat owner, Greg Hecht says he’s eager to get behind the wheel of his new Sunsation 32 CCX performance center console.

“Greg was the Cigarette guy who had to have the perfect 100-mph boat,” said Manire. “Now he’s back in boating with an 80-mph center console, and it’s enough boat so that he still feels like he has something cool.”

Known locally as the “Chicken Man” for a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets he owned in the St. Louis/St. Charles area, Hecht met Manire at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2010. At the time, Hecht owned a “spotless,” according to Manire, 2007 Cigarette 38’ Top Gun GT sportboat powered by Mercury Racing 525 EFI engines. Hecht wanted more speed and acceleration out of the boat, which was called Finger Licking Good, so he tasked Manire and the crew at Performance Boat Center with an upgrade project that include adding 3-liter Whipple superchargers to the engines and “shorty” lower units to the drives.

“It turned out to be a really cool package,” said Manire. “It went from being a mid-80-mph boat to 100-plus-mph boat. We were able to take care of him, and Greg and I became good friends. He gave me a watch that I still wear every day.

“He ran the boat for several years but eventually sold it, and sold his beautiful condo, too,” he added.

For a closer look at Hecht’s former ride, check out the slideshow above.

That was five years ago and, and for Hecht the decision was bittersweet. But he had a solid reason to at least temporarily exit the go-fast boating world.

“I needed to take a step back from the lake when my daughter went to high school,” he said. “It didn’t matter how many friends she brought with her, she just wasn’t having any fun when we went down there. So I decided to take a break and let her graduate.

“But once boating is in your blood, it’s in your blood,” he added, then laughed.

In September, Hecht closed on his place in Cape Coral. Knowing that the area is loaded with shallow water, he knew he wanted a boat that would work well in that environment. He also knew that, much as he loved his 38-foot Cigarette, he didn’t want to return to a true go-fast sportboat. With a little help from his friend Manire, he found the solution in the form of the 32-foot Sunsation center console he’s named Kicked The Bucket in a nostalgic and humorous nod to his former Finger Licking Good Cigarette, as well as his departure from the Kentucky Fried Chicken business.

Last week, Hecht and Manire traveled to the Sunsation facility in Algonac, Mich. “It was nice to visit a place where you see 15 guys taking so much pride in their work,” said Hecht. “And my boat turned out to be a really great piece—it’s just beautiful.

Said Hecht of his new center console, “This is a different direction I’m taking, but I’m thrilled.”

“I think I’m getting the best of both worlds with the Sunsation,” he added. “This is a different direction I’m taking with a center console, but I’m thrilled. And I ordered it with 400-hp (Mercury Racing) outboards, so it should be exciting enough do everything I want it to. I can’t wait to get in it.”

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