Many voyages of discovery and great human endurance have been made in catamarans. The most famous of modern times is undoubtedly Dr Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition. When you read about the Kon-Tiki, you will discover his boat was incredibly attractive to fish. Mahi mahi, giant sharks and tuna shadowed the stable craft virtually the entire length of the long passage across the Pacific. If Heyerdahl wanted dinner, he merely dangled a line and a giant fish jumped on the hook… It was as easy as that.
Today there is a rediscovery underway. Modern-day adventurers are suddenly turning to the catamaran as a more efficient and comfortable way of crossing oceans and catching fish.
While the latest wave of contemporary cats are only loose derivations of the traditional articles, they still boast the same time-honoured advantages over monohull boats – better stability, a smoother ride, more space and greater speed over rough water.
It’s fad-mad America which has turned cat crazy these past few years. And, as is wont to happen in America, the sceptics are now declaring cats as their own great invention.
Even Grady-White is producing a boat it calls Tigercat and at 8m in length and with an almost constant beam of 2.5m it has obvious advantages over Grady’s sportsfishing monos in terms of deck space.
Of course, we all know Australia is the pilot for the rest of the world in the development of the modern-day catamaran. Though we’re disinclined to blow our own trumpets, the fact is we have long made cutting-edge cats. We also make the world’s best dedicated fishing cats.
Kevlacat has been at the forefront of the evolution of the modern-day fishing cat for more than a decade.
These days, the Kevlacat factory in Queensland is catering for an increasing demand for its strong but lightweight boats from all over the country. Meanwhile, its American-based factory is selling everything it can build.
In Sydney, Kevlacat’s new distributor Warren Wieckmann is looking to sell at least 30 cats in the year 2000. He has great faith in the product and says he spent six months looking at a whole range of craft before deciding on becoming a Kevlacat distributor.
He explains that he wanted a boat which could do everything and has found it in his Kevlacat Series 2400.
Official Business, rocking gently by the fuel wharf as stiff south-westerly winds ruffle Pittwater, “is a big little boat,” he says.
Though he is pitching the 2400 Series as an all rounder, saying how nice it would be to take your family aboard and head off for lunch, my thoughts inevitably turn to heading wide and chasing big fish.
Twin 130hp Yamahas, big fuel tanks and positive foam floatation say so much – Kevlacats are made for long-range fishing.
The first thing you will notice with the 2400 is its styling – sporty with shapely decks, a useful hard or bimini top, and new streamlined cabin windows. Of all the powercats, the Kevlacats must surely be the best looking.
The next thing you’ll notice are the shapely, user-friendly mouldings and quality finish. The 2400 reflects a more precise boat building job than many production brands which have been in the game twice as long.
Built to NSW 2C Survey for six, Official Business is foam-filled and has a manual bilge pump and other silly things which survey requires. Weighing just under 2500kg on trailer, the 2400 is legally trailerable in NSW with a LandCruiser, assures Wieckmann.
Despite a hull weight of only 1400kg, the 2400 has a substantial moulded length of 6.5m (excluding bow sprit and outboard pods). Step aboard and it feels much bigger again.
You can switch from gunwale to gunwale and the boat is unaffected. That sense of stability also exists longitudinally as well. As with all Kevlacats, the stainless steel work is first rate and includes a six-spreader rocket launcher. From this solid structure you could also mount your outriggers, GPS and radio aerials.
Encouragingly, the 2400 has a lock-up cabin with seated headroom and sufficient sleeping space for two adults. There’s even a LectraSan toilet under the port-side bunk.
The dash on the 2400 is not gratuitously big, though there’s room for flush-mounting your electronics and gauges near the padded steering wheel, linked to a Hydrive hydraulic steering system.
On the passenger’s side is a big grabrail, side-pocket, built-in tackle drawer and covered compartment for the stereo system.
The windscreen is nice and protective when seated, but not so high that you can’t look over it when standing. It has heavy black anodised aluminum framework, but it doesn’t affect your view.
I was impressed with the 360° swivel Reelax seats and the seatboxes underneath them with aft-facing padded tops which can act as informal seats for extra crew or perhaps as somewhere to plonk yourself down when you’re drift-fishing.
The driver’s seatbox formed one giant insulated icebox and alongside were dedicated moulded recesses for the EPIRB and fire extinguisher.
Despite the large bimini top shading the helm area the cockpit has more than enough room. It really is a big work area, expected in a much bigger boat. Mind you, storage could be improved by making more use of the space underfloor.
Still, the transom has a really deep livebait tank (plumbed and ready to go) and a big bait storage-well built into it.
Gunwale support is superb – short safety rails act as ready-made grabrails and, with the inherent stability of a catamaran and the grip of carpet underfoot, you will feel safe about leaning overboard to trace a fish.
Speak to the Kevlacat personnel and they will tell you their 2400 works nicely without boards as small as twin 90s – both two and four-stroke.
So why did our good friend Mr Wieckmann have twin V-four 130hp outboards hanging off the tail?
The answer became obvious, yet not painfully, the moment we headed out for the photo shoot. He knows only two speeds – flat out and stationary. But the Kevlacat is made for rough treatment and will bounce back, he’ll tell you, like a bulletproof vest hit by a pea-shooter.
Counter-rotating props, hydraulic steering and a padded wheel made the 2400 simply a gorgeous boat to drive. It slipped onto the plan almost imperceptibly at about 2500rpm and can be held up there at as low as 2300rpm.
At 4100rpm, we cruised out to sea with a stiff breeze at out backs at a fast clip of 27kt. At 5800-5900rpm into the teeth of the wind, we managed 43kt and at no time was it a jarring ride.
Of course, power catamarans have long been the first choice of water police and various other rescue services. All of them have traditionally placed great confidence in this boat design and on some of the wildest river bars in the country.
Indeed, our very own Kevlacats are a highly refined breed of cat with better bloodlines than anything new-fashioned hitting the US market. Like Heyerdahl discovered on Kon-Tiki, you only need to cast adrift on the Pacific to find out which way the current flows.
|Material||Kevlar and GRP|
|Type||Catamaran with wave-breaker in tunnel|
|Deadrise at transom||n/a|
|Length||6.5m (7.68m LOA)|
|Weight (hull only)||1400kg|
|Make/model||Twin Yamaha Saltwater Series outboards|
|Type||Loop-charged two-stroke 90° V-four|
|Rated hp (ea)||130hp|
Article taken from Blue Water Boats & Sportsfishing.