As new model releases go—at least in the high-performance powerboat segment—one word sums up this year’s Miami International Boat Show, which opened yesterday and will close Sunday.
Skinny. Strike that. Anorexic.
There are exceptions, of course, such as the first model in Glasstream Powerboats’ GSX center-console series. The 36-footer is the product of a collaboration between Kruis Retherford, the owner of the Alabama-based boat company, and Glasstream dealer Bill Day of Day’s Boat Sales in Kentucky. A savvy marketer, Retherford turned to Day to help create the look, feel and features of the first GSX offering, a sporty center console dressed in graphics conceived by Stephen Miles Design. (Paul Boyden Customs of Pensacola, Fla., painted the boat.)
Don’t misunderstand, there was plenty to look at inside the Miami Beach Convention Center. The MTI exhibit included Bill Pyburn’s wicked V 50 center console and a V 42 center console along with a 390X catamaran and MTI’s second production 440X catamaran. Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats displayed a new 400 SS center console—the Fort Myers, Fla.-based company unveiled that model during last year’s show—owned by loyal Nor-Tech clients Jesse and Stephanie Neumann, as well as a 500 Sport center console for fellow Nor-Tech fan Alex Pratt, the founder of the Good Boy Vodka and hard seltzer brands, who is heading into his second Class 1 offshore racing season as a throttleman with driver Miles Jennings and XINSURANCE as the team’s primary backer.
Sandwiched between those brands was Cigarette Racing Team, which had a 515 sportboat, a 42 Auroris center console and a 41 Nighthawk center console—as well an array of Cigarette-branded clothing—on display.
In typically fine Midnight Express Boats fashion, the Miami-based company had a wicked, color-matched boat-car-combo consisting of a new SV 43 Solstice center console and Lamborghini automobile.
Without question, Mercury Racing’s new 400R V-10 outboard stole the show—at least inside the convention center. Not since the introduction of the 1350, the company’s first quad cam four valve twin-turbocharger sterndrive engine, at the 2010 Miami event has the Fond du Lac, Wis., high-performance marine propulsion outfit unveiled such a game-changing platform on which to base an entire engine series. But this time around, it’s all about outboards.
Scenes from the Miami Beach Convention Center.
To loosely borrow from the late Sunshine State-born rock-and-roller Tom Petty, the future of V-10 outboard derivatives is wide open, which also happens to be part of Mercury Racing’s “Life At Wide Open” marketing mantra.
Mercury Racing also stole the show outside the show with its extensive demo fleet at Grove Harbour Marina in Coconut Grove, which minus traffic took about 20 minutes to reach from the convention center. (Of course, “minus traffic” and “Miami” should never be used in the same sentence.) The in-water collection included a DCB Performance Boats M37R Widebody catamaran, an MTI V-42 center console, an MTI 390X Mercury Racing-branded catamaran, a Mystic Powerboats M4200 center console, a Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console, an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats SC 37 catamaran, SV 29 V-bottom and SV 52 V-bottom, and a Sunsation 32 CCX. The trip to Grove Harbour was well worth the effort.
And naturally most of the boats in the mix there were powered by Mercury Racing’s new V-10 outboard.
A five-minute idle was all it took to reach open water. Skippers included DCB’s Jeff Johnston and Tony Chiaramonte, Mercury Marine’s Mike Griffiths, Shaun Peters of MTI, Jason Taylor of Nor-Tech dealer Midwest Boating Center, Dan Kleitz of Outerlimits, and an entire team from Sunsation Boats. While waiting for their pre-reserved demo rides, participants could learn about the development and nuances from none other than Jeff Broman, Mercury Racing’s director of engineering.
Scenes from Grove Harbour Marina.
Short version: For performance-boat buyers who want to see and enjoy high-performance boats on the water—go figure—Grove Harbour was the place to be this week. And it will be again tomorrow, though would-be demo riders will need to contact the manufacturers above to make reservations. (The fleet moves out after Friday’s demo day ends.)
The verdict, as least this reporter’s version of it? The 2023 Miami International Boat Show is a mixed bag. A combination of exorbitant display fees and the general contraction of the high-performance marine category made that segment seem mighty small tucked away in a convention center corner, which in turn made it feel a little sad and underwhelming. New-model releases tend to run in cycles, and so far there aren’t many for the model-year 2023. No one to blame there, but it does make for a less splashy boat show.
On the very positive side, Mercury Racing’s V-10 outboard is a beast that holds nothing but promise for the go-fasting boating world. The company’s Grove Harbour demo days, which you can expect to return in 2024, also proved delightful.
The new GSX 36 on display in Miami is one of the first offerings in a new series of sporty center consoles from Glasstream.
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