No one knew how the Cigarette Owners Rendezvous would do when it landed at the Lake of the Ozarks in the hands of Performance Boat Center in Osage Beach, Mo, six years ago. Would Cigarette owners from across the country flock to an inland waterway in the heartland to celebrate the decidedly East Coast sportboat and center console brand? Performance Boat Center’s Brett Manire and Mark Waddington believed it would succeed on their home-water and Cigarette Racing Team owner and chief executive officer Skip Braver had faith in them, but no one really knew.
Cigarette Racing Team president Erik Christiansen (in black shirt) caught a ride with Performance Boat Center’s Brett Manire, Alicia Larkin, photographer Brad Glidewell and other friends during the Cigarette Owners Rendezvous lunch run today. It was Christiansen’s first Cigarette owners event. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
Now, after six years of amazing growth that began with 50-plus Cigarette models from brand-new to vintage in 2015 to 113 boats this weekend, it’s hard to imagine the event succeeding anywhere else.
Since its inaugural year, participation in the Cigarette Owners Rendezvous has more than doubled. What’s more, the team at Performance Boat Center made it a truly annual happening—in the years before it came to the Lake of the Ozarks, Cigarette-owner rallies were sporadic. Although most of the attendees come from the Midwest, there are plenty from both coasts, the Northwest and the Southeast.
That Cigarette is an iconic powerboat brand—maybe the only iconic powerboat brand by strict dictionary definition—with unmatched customer loyalty is an important element of the event’s continued success. But it is just one of three parts of the story, the other two being Performance Boat Center and the Lake of the Ozarks itself.
Unveiled at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show as part of Cigarette’s HyperLux series, the 41 Nighthawk turned heads during the event.
‘All the guys at Performance Boat Center do a great job,” said Ron Szolack, a Michigan-based performance-boat owner who produces Skaterfest every year and is at the lake this weekend. “The Cigarette rendezvous is over the top, like everything they do.
“This is definitely the performance boat capital of the world,” he added. “The Lake of the Ozarks is so cool.”
Yesterday, early arrival Cigarette owners headed out for a fun run. Today, after a mandatory morning drivers meeting in the Performance Boat Center showroom, they headed for Big Dick’s Halfway Inn for lunch, which was followed by big raft-up in Linn Creek. Tonight’s dinner and celebration at PBC starts at 6 p.m. Tomorrow is what the organizers affectionately called “A Boater’s Rehab Day” at the Redhead Lake Grill and adjacent High Tide venue.
“The team at Performance Boat Center always does an incredible job with the Cigarette rendezvous,” said Skip Braver, the owner of the Opa-locka, Fla., company. “It treats the Cigarette family as its own.”
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images from the 2020 Cigarette Owners Rendezvous.
Among the rendezvous participants this weekend is Lake of the Ozarks local ambassador and Super Cat Fest co-organizer Nikki Sorenson and her husband, Chuck. Together, they enjoy almost every major event of the year on the lake. The Cigarette gathering, she said, is among their favorites.
“We love this event—it brings all of our friends from so many states in one spot to enjoy for one weekend,” she said. “We have been lucky enough to ride with our Oklahoma crew and sweet friends Justin and Jessica Zumo for the past four years.”
Four the past four years, Lake of the Ozarks ambassador Nikki Sorenson (front row center) and her husband have joined Oklahoma-based friends for the Cigarette happening.