Cigarette or Cigar Boat

Cigar Boats vs Cigarette Boats: What is the Difference?

If you like boats, then from time to time you will hear the terms cigarette boat or cigar boat. You surely have them in your mind if you’ve ever seen them before. They are basically speed boats that have amazing performances. They are used in races, can really tear up the water, and are built specifically to impress with their speed. They are so amazing that they will simply destroy a power boat in a race. But are any differences between these two? And if so, what are they?

What is a Cigar Boat?

The name is misleading because cigars have nothing to do with a cigar boat. Some people go as far as asking online whether these types of boats were used to smuggle cigars in the past. But surely, the name comes from something else. You won’t see a cigar on a cigar boat unless one of the crew members actually smokes one after a race.

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Their history did involve some smuggling at some point, but it wasn’t related to cigars from Cuba, for sure. They were, instead, called rum runners.

The name of the cigar boat actually comes from its looks. At first, people called cigar boats cigarette boats. They started to call them cigar boats instead as a type of nickname, due to their general looks.

A cigar boat will be very thin and long and in the past, it was called a go-fast boat. Its similarity to either a cigarette or a cigar is what basically got it its name. It will be bullet-fast on water, its shape, and size playing a big role in its speed.

What about the Cigarette Boat?

So what was the cigarette boat, if the cigar boat is the old rum-runner? Well, weirdly enough, it was exactly the same thing. How so, you ask? The cigarette boat was also used as a type of rum runner. Instead of being a different type of vessel altogether, it is basically a brand name. The first Cigarette boat was built by Don Aronow in the 1960s. He wanted to show it off so we went all around the world with it. It caught the eye of a lot of boat enthusiasts, being a lot more amazing than a normal speed boat. He managed to catch the attention of so many people, that he got a lot of orders to build these boats for others as well. He was also behind the Cigarette Racing Team from the 1970s.

Aronow was also able to win a lot of races with the Cigarette boat. overall, his boats won a combined 350 world championships and titles. As a whole, this boat isn’t different from a rum runner or a cigar boat. A better way to understand this is to consider the cigarette boat as a Pampers, while the cigar boat would be the diapers. It’s basically the same product, but one has a brand.

How Fast is a Cigarette Boat?

The cigarette boat might be exactly what you need if you’re looking for speed on the water. But why do I say these things? Let’s go over some of the numbers. One of the amazingly fast boats is the Cigarette Racing Team’s 50 AMG GTS. It’s a boat that can easily hit 135 miles per hour with its 2200 HPG electric engine. These types of engines are not only a great sight, they encompass real power.

This particular racing boat model is completely electric. Most people will never get to ride behind the wheel of this beauty. A cigarette boat that can reach speeds of 90 miles or even 100 miles per hour is available to anyone that wants to buy it.

How Much Does a Cigarette Boat Cost?

The question regarding the actual cost of a cigarette boat isn’t easy to answer. It will usually boil down to whether you want a real cigarette boat or just a generic boat that can go really fast. One of the biggest issues is that the Cigarette boat made by its official company is released in very limited numbers to normal people. This means that these aren’t readily available at a local marina for example. Their main purpose is racing. They were even able to make the Mercedes boat in 2018, by collaborating with Mercedes to create the Mercedes-AMG GmbH which has a cost of $2 million.

This means that you will really have to empty your wallet dry to get a real Cigarette boat. These boats are available to be sold all around the country. Among the more expensive models, you will find boats around $750,000, while cheaper models will ‘only’ cost $150,000.

If you’re looking for a brand new boat, you might spend around $1 million, or, for some of the rarer models, even $3 million. It’s clear that these aren’t boats for just any individual. They are custom designed for each buyer and are bespoke.

Keep in mind that there are other boat brands as well. You’ve surely heard about Outerlimits, Nor-Tech, Mainship, or similar companies that make really fast boats and rum runners. The cost will be considerably bigger when you want to get a new boat than when going for a second-hand one. If the boat you are interested in buying is made in the last 20 years, you will surely have to pay somewhere within the low six figures.

The Cigarette Racing Team

The planing hull of a Cigarette boat will be V-shaped. This will make them ride on the water’s top. It has a very high horsepower engine. It will usually be made of fiberglass. The boat will easily reach incredible speeds, even 100 miles per hour. They can slice clean through higher waves and have no problem tearing up calmer waters. This boat surely doesn’t lack agility or speed.

The usual racing team in a cigarette boat will be made of 3 members. One individual will have to steer. Another one will man the boat’s throttle. The last member of the team will be the navigator. If they are used to working together, these three people can do amazing things and go really fast in races. It will also take a great deal of coordination and amazing skill to do this. But if the navigator for example were to mess up their job and miss an obstacle, then it can turn into a disaster. This is because the racer on the throttle might accelerate and the pilot will steer directly into it.

The History of Cigarette Boats

The history of these boats as well as the company itself, are wrapped in a lot of danger and intrigue. The image that the rum runner had was strongly connected to a latter-day type of piracy. These are boats that would be used by smugglers to bring alcohol to the mainland from boats offshore. This was because these were basically impossible to catch. Even the Coast Guard was helpless when seeing these boats run away. These cigarette boats actually left any Coast Guard boats in the wake.

What happens next is obvious, for sure. As soon as people realized that cigar boats could smuggle alcohol with no stopping from the United States Coast Guard, they could surely smuggle other goods as well. This is how these boats actually became the favorite water-bound vehicles for smugglers, using them for their low profile and speed.

A funny fact is that the creator of Cigarette boats, Aronow, was also the one who stopped people from using them for illegal activities. Well, not really stopped, but made it harder. When Aronow managed to sell Cigarette Boats and form the USA Racing Team, in the 1980s, he then went ahead and designed new types of boats for the United States Customs Service. These new vessels were known as Blue Thunders. Their main feature was speed. This made it possible for customs agents to actually catch high-speed smugglers of those times.

When Don Aronow Passed Away

Cigarette BoatDon Aronow passed away in 1987 when after a business meeting, he was attacked in his car. His attackers were Ben Kramer and Bobby Young, his associates. This happened because Kramer bought USA racing from Aronow and was also a known smuggler. Shortly after the acquisition, Customs froze him out and he sold it back. This dispute was what ended the life of Aronow. The case of Aronow took almost one decade to be solved. When he confessed to this crime, Kramer was actually already in prison on multiple charges on a life sentence.

The legacy of Aronow lived on even though he sold the company before his passing. Go-fast boats, cigar, and cigarette boats are still a big part of boat racing. They are known to cut the water in an amazing way. The aerodynamics of the Cigarette boat is greatly increased by its narrow and long shape. This also makes it able to go through the air a lot faster. The lack of obstructions and its clean lines also helped with this. These would normally slow a boat down by creating a lot of friction. This is why the bow of the boat is enclosed. The air would not be able to flow over the hull in such a smooth way if there was an opening anywhere in the bow.


The history and purpose of the Cigarette boat is something very interesting in water racing, especially for boat enthusiasts. It is a great discussion opener, especially considering that the names of these boats are used very often nowadays. So the rum runner is actually a go-fast boat which is a cigar boat. The Cigarette, on the other hand, is just the brand that appeared in the 1960s and made the best cigar boats.

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