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Life in the Fast Lane

A young “water rat” turned performance boater, Ron Harrison exemplifies what can happen when you get a taste for speed on the water.

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Growing up in Indiana, Ron Harrison was a self-proclaimed water rat, and once he shared the passion with his own children, it created a sizable wake. He started with ski boats, taking the family knee-boarding and tubing on small lakes near home, all the while dreaming of stepping up to a larger boat. Once the kids were old enough to ride their own Jet Skis, Harrison, who has owned an IT company for 22 years, was off to realize his fantasy. With the purchase of a Cigarette 42 Tiger, the Harrison family became a watersports caravan, hauling its fleet to bigger and bigger lakes.

“I taught my kids about boats early on and had them driving with me since they could stand. My daughter, Brianna, at 14, was at the helm of a Cigarette 46, and she knew what she was doing,” laughs Harrison. Through Brianna and her good friend, Ashley, Harrison met Lori, his wife of four years. Ashley told her mom that her friend had a “cool dad” and she thought it would be good for them to meet. (The boat might’ve had something to do with it, too.)

Now, between the blended families, the Harrison get-togethers are a boatload of fun. Lori is a good sport, taking her vacations from her job in the insurance industry to go boating with everyone. Between her kids, Ashley (19) and Trevor (14), and Harrison’s kids, Brianna (19) and Zach (21), the family travels with an entourage of friends to events around the country.

As Harrison’s boats and family grew, so did his road show. To haul his Cigarette 46 Rider, Instigator, he has a Ford 450 six-door that pulls a fifth-wheel trailer with three 50-inch screens and a full audio system. The screens show powerboat, music or sports videos and can entertain an entire block. The setup won him a prize at the 2011 Lake Havasu Poker Run.

“It’s the people you meet that make it so much fun,” says Harrison. “People are attracted to the boat, and so they come up to talk about it.” Next of course, they want to go for a ride, and Harrison is happy to oblige — any excuse to go out on the water is a good one. “Even if they have their own, they want to come on my boat,” he adds, proudly.

Harrison’s current Cigarette 46 is the culmination of a dream. After his Cigarette 42, Harrison bought the first Cigarette 46 with Mercury Racing 1075s: the red, white and blue American Muscle. Skip Braver, Cigarette’s president and CEO, had built it as his own boat, but Harrison scooped it up at the 2004 Miami International Boat Show, and that began the quest for his own custom-built Cigarette.

Since Braver had built American Muscle to his own specifications, he and Harrison realized they had quite a few boating preferences in common. He built a relationship with both Braver and David Woods of Pier 57, Cigarette’s dealer from Pickwick, Tenn. “I found David to be such a smart broker. He’s just an outstanding guy,” says Harrison. “He and Braver have integrity, and I really appreciate that. Skip will say, ‘Let’s talk,’ and we’ll have a conversation about all sorts of things.”

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