The wide beam 7.2m Kevlacat has an excellent record as an offshore sportfisherman with outboards or sterndrive power units. Now it’s available with diesel inboards, opening up a whole new range of possibilities for the sportfisherman.
First conceived as the Magnum series, powered by big V-6 outboard motors, the 2800 or 7.2 metre series Kevlacats have enjoyed mixed sales success here and overseas, probably because it falls into the category that makes it too big to be a trailerboat and for a long time, because it was not available with diesel inboards, the choice of many of Australia’s top fishermen, it was passed over in many fisho’s selection process.
As well, this model has always gone head to head with the Noosa Cat 7.0m series which offers the advantage of ‘normal’ 24 hour trailering ability with its 2.5 metre beam, as distinct from this big craft’s wide 2.77 metre beam which requires a special permit for towing, and in daylight hours only.
Given the Cougar Cat also produce a model in this price range, it’s obviously a highly competitive market sector, and as most readers are aware, it is a buyer’s market in just about every category, let alone outboard powered, 7 metre high performance powered catamarans.
Kevlacat are amongst the first manufacturers to grasp the potential of the new technology, light weight high performance diesel engines now coming on to the market, with the Yanmar 170 hp 4 cylinder engine (the 4LHDTE) being one of the most significant.
These extraordinary engines only weigh 406 kg including the gear box, a truly remarkable figure considering that only a decade or more ago, to get such horsepower, one had to buy a 6 cylinder diesel that weighed as much as 650 kg or more. Go back two decades, and you’d need something akin to a 1300 kg tractor engine to get 170 hp at the flywheel.
Kevlacat’s Fred Temminck saw the potential of the new light weight Yanmars, and ordered two for the factory’s own demonstration rig.
It was a good decision. Not only is there considerable interest in the 7.2 Kevlacat with its flush mounted under-floor engines, there’s obviously significant interest in the Yanmar diesels too.
Last month, we travelled up to Kevlacat’s factory at Warana on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, where we joined Fred, Michelle and Will, for an extremely interesting double test (we tested the 5.2 m Kevlacat too for a report later on) off Mooloolaba and Point Cartwright, in conditions that were positively superb and enough to make a shivering southerner’s heart green with envy.
The 7.2 metre Kevlacat is an extremely well developed craft. Many of them have been built now, both in the company’s most recent life, and in its much publicised earlier life when its demise and placement into the hands of a Receiver back in 1994, was the subject of considerable adverse publicity and scuttlebutt throughout the Australian boating industry.
But those painful days are slowly falling behind them, and today’s proprietors, Harry Carter and Fred Temminck, are rebuilding their company’s somewhat tarnished image with a concentration on quality control and boat building skill that is very heartening. Following an extensive inspection of their Warana facility, we concluded that the current Kevlacat build standard is the equal of any in Australia, and we were particularly taken with the standard of engineering and electrical fit-out. This was considerably above the average found in boats of similar size from years gone by.
If you want a good reason why you should always first consider buying new instead of second hand, may I suggest five minutes behind the dash of this Kevlacat 7.2 would provide more that a subtle hint at the advantages of today’s much higher boat building standards.
Much of this has come about because of Kevlacat’s growing international sales involvement. Shunned by the local market for several years in the wake of the ’94 financial disaster, the new Kevlacat operation turned its attention overseas, where it has enjoyed renewed success, and has now built up extensive contacts in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and America. Interestingly, Kevlacat are now manufacturing several of their boats in America with Harry Carter taking care of business in that part of the world. But back to the 7.2m diesel cat.
Measuring 7.8m overall, with a moulded hull length of 7.2 m, this model has a moulded beam of 2.77metres, an internal freeboard of 0.75 m (average) around the cockpit, and it draws 0.60 metres in most configurations. It’s available with an excellent variety of power systems including outboards, sterndrives, jets and inboard diesel or petrol engines. Fuel capacity for the inset tanks is 2 x 450 litres each, with a 1 x 113 litre (25 gal) water tank.
It’s a big boat, and there’s plenty of room for most in-line 4 cylinder engines in the sponsons, and it’s been very carefully designed with this in mind.
Likewise, there are quite a few different variations in layout as far as the cockpit is concerned. It’s available with a dinette to port and various ice chests and tables to starboard, and any number of seat combinations.
Like a number of these specialist power cat manufacturers, Kevlacat are moving to the increasing use of “modular” furniture components, so the customer is given a much greater choice with the layout and fittings – without any major alteration to the cost. As long as they have the moulding in stock (the “part”) they will fit in.
Most fishermen have it the way it is in the photographs – this is very close to perfect for most fishes. For them, a dinette is not much more that a waste of space, and greater interest is shown in the live bait tank than in the placement of (say) a galley unit.
And what a cockpit the 7.2 has with the underfloor Yanmar diesels. It measures no less that 4.95 metres long from the principle bulkhead back to the transom by 2.42 (inside) m wide – that’s a vast 11.97 square metres of useable self draining, cockpit space that is going to keep the most ardent mackerel fisherman happy. It also has heaps of space for fishermen who like to install a gamefishing chair to work with the bigger fish species.
The 7.2 Kevlacat is available with a hard top or without, and given today’s availability of excellent waterproof clears, a snug wheel house arrangement is easy to configure. Similarly, Kevlacat has built several half towers and a full tower for sportfishermen keen to have the vision advantage from above. If necessary, Kevlacat can install a full second station, high up in the tower.
Down below, the cabin is quite a useful size, and comprises the toilet directly ahead of the companion way down into the cabin. From there, a big triple berth spreads right across to the starboard side utilising the space very well for two people and probably three.
But make no mistake, this Kevlacat’s not set-up as a family cruiser, and nor is it really designed with cruising in mind despite its undoubted capability in this area. 99.9% of its buyers are into fishing and when you’ve spent a couple of hours at sea in this boat you can see why.
It is a fairly gloomy way of looking at things, but sitting in Kevlacat’s yard at the time of writing is one of their big 10 m commercial crabbing boats, locked away pending a coronial inquiry.
It seems the big LFB’s lone skipper was lost at sea off Mooloolaba recently, and the Kevlacat, running at trolling speed on the autopilot, steamed itself back home. It bumped its way right through the surf, before running straight up the beach, where it sat, its twin diesels grinding away until an alert surfer had the nous to climb aboard, shut down the engines, and alert the authorities.
Apart from one seriously damaged prop and a bent shaft, the rig incurred no structural damage whatsoever, and could go back to sea tomorrow. In another incident the writer is aware of a 6.0 m Kevlacat hit a retaining wall at the bottom of a waterfront home’s garden up the Lane Cove River a few years back, at full speed, and bounced off! Apart from a serious bump ‘on the nose’ the Kevlacat was quite okay, although the crew were injured by the severity of the impact.
The moral here is simple – these boats are very strongly built, and they do genuinely utilise 2 layers of unidirectional Kevlar cloth in the hull’s construction. They are not, nor are they claimed to be, fully moulded in Kevlar. Apart from costing the earth, such extravagance would be a total wasted of time and money – well, unless you were a Columbian drug lord, perhaps, with the US Navy on your trail!
In fact, they are built with a fairly traditional lay-up, using good quality isothalic resin and chopped strand glass, the two Kevlar layers combining to provide an extremely powerful, long lasting total laminate. Much of the superstructure is of divinycell core construction, whilst the tunnel entrance is carefully reinforced with balsa core laminate.
The writer studied their construction schedules and procedures in some detail, and was impressed by their thoroughness and further, the attitude of the guys working in the shop. It’s good to see blokes so obviously taking pride in their work – and all commented that “management” was more concerned about doing it right the first time, than saving a few bob here and there, or knocking back their hourly rate.
Serious fishing. Either on a commercial basis, or in recreational mode. Or as a charter boat for mixed light and heavy tackle fishing with two man crews.
From a private viewpoint, it is a superb rig. Things I particularly liked included
The Yanmars were too new and had not been finally serviced for us to conduct all our usual trials, and Fred Temminck was still a bit unhappy with the vibration coming from the port engine. This was suspected to be the result of a slightly out of alignment prop shaft, so until that was cleared up, we were understandably reluctant to hammer the Yanmars to the max to discover what the ultimate performance of this 7.2 Kevlacat could achieve.
Nevertheless, we were able to put away 35-36 knots with disarming ease, suggesting that fully tuned and run-in (this boat still had only 20 hours on the clock) the Yanmars were more than capable of pushing this big rig to mid 30’s performance with a load of blokes onboard plus ice and fishing gear.
This may seem a bit hard to believe for some mono-hull skippers, but the Kevlacat 7.2 is easily capable of cruising offshore for hours and hours at speeds of up to 26-27 knots and in quite choppy conditions at that.
Throttled back into the low 20 knot range, quite rough seas can be taken with ease, and a good cruising attitude and ride is achieved that will simply blow most mono-hulled skippers’ minds clean off their shoulders.
Fishing guys who have worked (say) good old boats like the Bertie 28 or sportfishing rigs like the OMC Haines Hunter 680 SF along the Eastern Seaboard, should really get into these new cats to check them out. Considering this boat is only 24 feet long overall, its performance, ride, handling in a seaway is just simply magnificent, and light years ahead of the traditional monos of this length – especially the traditional big plate boats around this 23-25 ft length.
And no, I’m not just saying that because Peter Webster is a ‘cat enthusiast’. I like cats to be sure, but I’ve also spent a great deal of time recently with the Black Watch people, testing the B.W. 26 and 40, and F&B owns and operates almost daily the superb Signature 702 hull, so I am in a position to make the comment about this Kevlacat’s ride and handling relative to some of the best mono’s around.
The Black Watch and Signature people too, have upgraded modern design standards to an extent that makes them almost unrecognisable from fishing boat standards of quite recent years.
How come? Well, a lot of it’s to do with these new technology diesels – not only are we getting big, grunty horsepower outputs from these reliable, economical diesel engines – we’re also getting them now in incredibly light packages. So the boats are running lighter, (the Black Watch 40 is only 10 tonnes) and they’re working more easily in the seaway. They’re not dragging their bums through the water like they’ve done in year’s past, partly because they no longer have to carry such big loads of fuel nor great big hunks of engine iron in the bilge anymore.
This is quite a revolution in the whole philosophy of modern boat design – and the Kevlacat 7.2 is right on the forefront of this technology. By applying modern, light weight engine know-how to very sophisticated high tunnel cat design, the result is truly outstanding.
Don’t believe me? Well, get yourself into gear, get up to the Sunshine Coast and go fishing with Fred and Michelle. Apart from having a fantastic day with a top crew in an exciting boat, it will reshape your thinking about power boat design, and you’ll probably get yourself onto a billfish as well.
Go there to enjoy one of the best 7.2’s in the business. The wide beam Kevlacat 7.2 has rock solid stability, a genuinely soft, dry ride, inboard diesel fuel economy and range, a huge self draining fishing cockpit – and comfortable overnight accommodation for two. Throw in seaworthiness to handle the worst conditions you’ll ever fish, and it is not hard to see why the Kevlacat 7.2 has such a strong future in mid-sized game fishing circles.
It is the perfect “bridge” from the big trailer boats across to a full size, 10 m game boat, although I suspect for many of today’s more financially conscious fishermen, this is in itself, the ‘perfect’ game fishing boat.
Article taken from Fisherman & Boatowner