The Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show returned to its new home at the Miami Marine Stadium on Key Biscayne from February 14th through 18th. Since relocating from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Virginia Key a few years prior, just getting to the show is half the fun... and I mean that in the most sarcastic of ways. Atrocious traffic is worse than that Sunday afternoon sleep-deprived return drive down Interstate I-15 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.


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Tip number one: Pack an extra dose of patience or drop an extra-large dose of Drambue into your Starbucks morning blend for the gridlocked commute or slow-moving water taxi because what awaits you is a marine-Mecca of more than 1400 watercrafts and all-things nautically imaginable. For the go-fast crowd it is the ultimate playground and platform to showcase the latest launches and RDP was there from day one to capture it all

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Opening day of the extravaganza coincidentally fell on Valentine’s Day and rather than a box of Godivas, what better way to drop your first $40 than on a premier-day ticket… and then directly outside the security bag and body inspection gate see your first show highlight -- Miss GEICO Racing's Scotty Begovich and the team's 47-foot Victory sitting pretty on its tilt-trailer greeting you at the entrance. The carbon, Kevlar and S-glass catamaran produces a whopping 3,000 horsepower and reaches a top speed of 200 mph when the throttles are pushed forward and the twin turbo 1650 RACE sterndrives are doing their thing.


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Tackling the show took little to no preparation at all (except to stash the foldable map in a pocket just in case). Straight to the high-performance manufacturer piers was first on my agenda, ate up the whole day and still left loads more to drool over on day two.


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Gracing the end of Pier 3 were five bad-azz hunks of hardware from Marine Industry Technologies (MTI) including the grandiose black, white and red 48-footer pushing water out of the way with a set of Mercury stern drive 1550/1350 dual-calibration engines. For the fishermen among us, the MTI V-57 XSF sport fish-focused center console towered over the equally almighty V-57 and smaller V-42. However, perhaps the most talked about MTI was the new 340X proudly displaying its updated back seat, M6 JL audio speakers, pristine paint and a pair of twin 400R Mercury outboards.


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On the edge of the neighboring dock and in true “look at me” Miami style, the shiny blue blinged-out beasts from Skater Powerboats were hailing me over. Manuevering through the crowds to Skater Nation, it was love at first sight when I laid my eyes upon the twin Mercury QC4V 1100 hp Skater 388 complete with seating for eight and fuel capacity for 360 gallons. Who would have thought a high-performance cat could accomodate a party of eight so comfortably.

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Until recently, Donzi and catamaran have never shared the same sentence from any speedboater. I thought I was mistaken when I first heard about the pending kitty-conception, since the offshore world is well aware Donzi is a founding father in the V-bottom high-performance arena. Seeing is believing and I was speechless with the end result of the first-ever black and white catamaran -- Donzi Icon 44. This go-fast feline will stop you in your tracks when passing by it, or when it passes by you which is more like it.

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The background behind the build started when Iconic Marine Group's COO Joe Curran saw the model while in production at Wilson Custom Composites, and after penciling out a deal he now owns the molds. The boats still remain under construction at the Florida business run by father and son, Craig and Mark Wilson.


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The Donzi Icon 44 reaches speeds over 100 mph powered by quad 400-hp Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard engines and has been designed to include a specially integrated swim-step platform conveniently situated between the twin sets of outboards. Another change... in place of rear storage compartments, more seating has been added in addition to the six buckets to allow for "better boatalizing” which translates to boater socializing in your urban pocket dictionary.

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Fountain faithfuls were happy to see a vast selection of stock including the new 43NX center console tucked in alongside the Donzis since the Iconic Marine Group from Washington, North Carolina is also the parent company of Baja Marine and Fountain Powerboats.

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Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats unleashed a two-some of ultimate water commuting machines each with one-of-a-kind paint schemes created by the uber-talented Stephen Miles Design out of Owensburo, Kentucky. A concoction of gray and silver, and pearl and metallic swirls, instantly hypnotizes you when admiring the SV 43 V-bottom Crypto. The most precious characteristic on this masterpiece is a mural of the late Outerlimits founder Mike Fiore on the underside of the canopy. In the second Outerlimits slip, another focal point of the show was the recently unveiled SC 46 canopied catamaran Jet. Owned by a couple out of Michigan, Jet is set to win some serious liquid battles and water wars.

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Lots of action and positive chatter also surrounded industry favorites including: Mystic's C3800 and Hustler's 39 Shotgun sportboat with triple Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines.


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Moving on from the high-performance single and twin hull players in the industry; now is as best a time as any to address the center console state of affairs. Similar to a Kardashian, there was just no escaping them. Everywhere you turned they were following you, but unlike the famous for nothing sisters, the center consoles are making headlines for their impressive turn-key and stress-free operating possibilities.


Honestly… if you see the Nor-Tech triple 550-hp Cummins diesel outboard, you can’t help but salivate over this 56-foot piece of magic. The time has come for us to accept and embrace them as they are Making Boating Great Again (MBGA) giving us and as many amigos as we can stuff on board, many happy days on the water.

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No matter what boat you hold the keys to or have plastered over your Facebook homepage, the Miami International Boat Show is a connector and brings boaters from around the globe together like no other exhibition. Apart from waiting in longer lines than Disney World’s Space Mountain if you needed the restrooms or to purchase an overprized burger, RiverDavesPlace was thrilled to have been in town for the weekend and to have connected with its members. The Novecento floating dock restaurant and bar was our daily meeting point.

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(Since Cigarette Racing Team celebrated its Golden Milestone 50th anniversary and Mercury Marine increased that birthday number by thirty as the industry heavyweight marked its 80th landmark year in business, RDP put together separate features on their innovative 2019 launches.)

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I am still in offshore overload mode with the abundance of awesomeness this show provided and it wasn’t just about the boats. RDP will feature an additional wrap-up of my top picks for best booths and all-around cool stuff. Stay tuned…

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Story by DinaRella
Photos by DinaRella & RiverDave
Aerial imagery courtesy by RiverDave
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