46 Rider XP— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
|Part 2: I took a turn at the helm, which was a bit intimidating at first.|
I was hoping the lube system was working just right as I readied my radar gun and Hernandez, who has more than 15 years at the wheel of these thoroughbreds (and not one gold chain or gray hair, I might add), prepared to run the 46 hard. "Let's start at 2500 rpm," he said. The 46 hit 2500, and I shot the gun. Amazing! Even though it appeared the boat was barely moving, my radar gun read 31 mph. As we increased rpm increments, the 46 really came to life, and at around 5000 rpm she hit her stride and nailed 86 mph. Two more 500-rpm increases, and my lip-flapping face caught a glimpse of my gun reading 106.6 mph, while Hernandez handled the 46 like she was the family car out for a Sunday drive.
Hernandez slowed the boat, giving me time to wipe the drool from my face, which was there due partly to pure velocity and partly to speed envy. The respite also gave me a chance to find out more about the technology behind this speed demon. In a word, Hernandez says, "hull." He credits the triple-stepped hull, which reduces wetted surface and drag. Hernandez, who played a vital role in designing and placing the steps on the 46, says they provide the necessary lift to maximize the boat's performance without relying on just big power to push the boat. "You can get more speed with less power with a stepped hull," he says.
Advanced lightweight construction materials also contribute. The 46 is comprised of a vacuum-bagged and balsa-cored fiberglass hull and deck. Other weight-saving measures included using Deckalite bulkheads and an "air-cell transom," which uses high-density polyurethane foam. She also has lightweight but stiff Prisma stringers, which are foam-filled and capped with carbon fiber by Cigarette. Simply put, she's light. The 46 weighs just 12,200 pounds (dry), but I didn't feel her ride suffer as a result. The whole time we conducted speed runs on the rather calm bay, she felt solid, and Skip Braver, CEO and president of Cigarette (also not wearing gold chains), told me later in the day that he and Hernandez ran the boat at nearly WOT in three-footers during the entire Sarasota run.
I took a turn at the helm, which was a bit intimidating at first. Driving your average sportfisherman or cruiser is not the same as handling a go-fast boat, as slight wheel, tab, and drive adjustments make for big results. In fact, I'd advise that if you're interested in a boat like the 46, you should get some training from your builder or dealer and work up to a speedster of this caliber. That said, it initially felt odd driving a boat that's 46 feet long and only eight feet wide. I can only equate it to what it might be like to pilot a missile. But once underway, with my hands on the wheel and operating the responsive Mercury-Marine Machine hydraulic steering and Mercury-Marine Machine Zero-Effort mechanical controls, I started to get what those go-fast boaters of my childhood were about. The feeling was amazing, even if I didn't even come close to running her at WOT. (I hovered the 46 around 50 to 60 mph, plenty fast for me the first time out.) Even more amazing is the fact I never felt the desire to cruise in front of the local waterside bar and show off the nearly naked woman sprawled along the hull of the 46.
I'm sorry, didn't I mention the nearly naked woman? The sex-sells appeal that goes with this genre of boating will endure for all time, and since the 46 is named Strip Poker, Cigarette's staff thought it was only apropos to paint a woman in a barely-there bikini on the side of the hull. A bit cheeky (no pun intended), but it's brilliant. It's what fans of this type of boating crave and Cigarette delivers.
So if you're looking for headroom, big galleys, a large saloon, and great fuel economy, the 46 is not for you. But if you're into the new generation of go-fast boats, smokin' on the water, making your eyes cry crocodile tears, scaring your friends, playing cards, and having one helluva good time doing it all, then step aboard Cigarette's 46 Rider XP. Just be sure to hold on, tight!
I have to go now, for some reason I have this deep desire to try on my old pastel blazer.
Cigarette Racing Phone: (305) 931-4564. www.cigaretteracing.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.