Wow – isn’t this nice? Imagine if you could wake up one morning and find this magnificent craft in your driveway – where would you go first? To find out, Darren Shiel Volunteered for the task of testing the new rig (took him about 2 milliseconds to put his hand up) and came back smitten .. and took off to buy himself a handful of Powerball tickets. S’all perfectly understandable, really!
I have to admit first up here that I am a devoted cat fan. Driving rescue boats for almost ten years, I have operated various versions of them for countless hours, in both aluminium and fibreglass, and have driven them in places they should never have been.
When PW gave me the choice of testing the new 2100 Offshore Kevlacat or the new Stacer 565 Centre Console, I jumped at the opportunity of taking the 2100 for a run. I am also a fan of trailer boats, so I had very high expectations of this rig, and looked forward to putting it through its paces on the Gold Coast Seaway.
The 2100 here is an evolution of the original 5.2m Kevlacat, launched in 1989, a boat that won the Boat of the Year award in the same year. The 5.2 was a huge success, and continued in production for 11 years. The new 2100 certainly has a high standard to live up to, with the original 5.2m long regarded as a favorite by many fishermen.
The success of the original 5.2m was due mainly to the fact that the boat had the all round balance of small size and ease of use, it was easy to tow, moderately powered and most of all, it was remarkably seaworthy for a vessel of its size.
Having a completely new hull and deck design, the only thing the new 2100 Offshore carries forward from its predecessor, is the advantages of size and function. The boat has been increased in size slightly, and is now 5.8m long. Featuring more aesthetically-pleasing rounded looks, and a number of other refined features, such as full fibreglass tooling both inside and out, new moulded pods and a glass windscreen, it has certainly modernised the original 5.2m concept.
The engine ‘pods’ this time are fully integrated into the hull and deck mouldings although they do not carry on from the keel line, still retaining a ‘step’ up underwater near the old pod position. They are clean mouldings too, and no longer look like extras bolted onto the back of the boat.
Looking at this new hull design, my first impressions were that it was slightly longer than the 5.2, and that it had been made with a wider beam. A study of the two side by side however, reveals that the beam is the same, but the new boat has a wider tunnel section, and therefore slightly narrower hulls. The stems on the new design have also been made a lot sharper, so there are fewer overhangs of the bows over the waterline.
The 2100 Offshore is designed specifically for the offshore fisherman market, aimed at both bottom and pelagic fisherman. Designed to have deep freeboard, and inherent safety features for offshore fishing and operation, this boat is top class.
With an overall length of 5.8 metres, and a beam of 2.41 metres, the boat is right in the extremely popular 18-footer size. It is a classic twin hulled catamaran, made of Kevlar and fibreglass.
Continuing with their unique method of boat building, the 2100 Offshore is built using Kevlar materials for its construction. Kevlar’s light weight and strength, has some benefits and also some negatives. The light weight of the hull due to its Kevlar construction, allows the boat to be moderately powered, in this case by two 70hp 4-stroke Suzuki engines. The downside to this, is that the boat is then pushed around a little bit more by the prevailing sea conditions, as it doesn’t have the weight of a similar sized fibreglass rig.
The Kevlacat construction technique also incorporates bulkheads hull to hull, creating internal strength. All these bulkheads and bearers are made from GRP with waterproof structural ply reinforcing and laminated to the hull with stiffeners. Kevlacat offer a 5-year hull warranty for private use, or 1-year warranty for commercial use, one of the longest warranties offered by power catamaran manufacturers.
Cats have long been regarded as having a second rate standard of finish. Keeping with the long-term thoughts of Kevlacat however, this boat is excellent.
The GRP mouldings are superb.
The stainless steel is well thought out, providing great handholds, and adding to the attractive look of the boat. All fittings are world standard.
Once again, Kevlacat has done an exceptional job here, and the other manufacturers should take a look at the functionality of this boat.
The GRP cockpit moulding makes cleaning easy. An hour on the hose using a bucket and broom after a big session offshore, and this boat will remain as attractive in five years as it is today.
The only negative I could find with the finish of this boat, was the poor quality of the seats. I found the seats to be flimsy, uncomfortable, and basically, poorly designed. The seats rubbed on the sides of the boat, and could not be spun around to face backwards. Hopefully, Kevlacat will fix this problem very soon.
Apart from the aforementioned poor seats, the helm set-up is great. Using a surround style dash set up, the helmsman is provided with all necessary gauges for twin engines, along with the usual waterproof six-gauge switch panel, and a neat through dash mounted compass. The dash also has a very large central mounting for a sounder of GPS, in this boat home to a Navnet Furuno Sounder/GPS combination. The lower dash is also home to the twin trim system for the outboards.
Driving is best done from a seated position, as standing is not comfortable due to the extruding footrests. Seated, the recessed twin throttles fall to hand very nicely, and they don’t bulk out too far as sometimes happens in some catamaran configurations.
The helmsman seats are mounted on fibreglass moulded seat box bases, with dickie seats to the rear, so the storage issue has been addressed well in this boat. The boxes are huge, and utilise all available space in this region.
The rear dickie seats/access hatches, do however need some form of clip system to hold them up, as they simply close unless you physically hold them open. The driver side box is also provided with one recess for the fire extinguisher, and another for the essential EPIRB. Both of these boxes can be set up as ice boxes, as provided on the test boat.
The passenger is provided with a radio box mounted into the dashboard facis, and also an upper storage compartment, for the small items like keys and glasses.
The curved glass windscreen is impressive, and together with the clears set-up, provides a dry, clean area to operate for the skipper and crew. I did, however, have a lot of reflective glare coming off the dash to the driver’s position, and found it hard, sometimes impossible to have good vision from the seated helm position.
I would suggest to Kevlacat or any prospective owners, to treat this area with a black urethane finish, as is well utised on most Haines Signature boats.
The hardtop set up on this boat is very well done. The actual hardtop is a fibreglass moulding, supported by a series of stainless steel supports. The stainless set-up is superb, using the rails to also act as grab rails for the driver and passenger, both above the windscreen, and on the dash, but not getting in anyone’s way, or losing vision for the driver.
The hardtop base is also home to deck lights, as well as the roof having storage for six fishing rods, and also being the base for the two radio aerials, and anchor light.
The carpet-lined cabin is also a very nice feature, being very roomy for a boat of this size. The area is treated with two 5’8 single bunks running bow to stern, with large storage lockers beneath. Between this is the GRP moulding for the walkway to access the bow through the main hatch, so you no longer need to stand on bunk cushions to operate the anchor.
The main hatch is a large size, tinted perspex, and treated with four (yes, four!) locks. Along with the neat side windows, it allows the cabin to be very bright. A bi-fold door provides plenty of privacy, and also security for the rods when used as storage. An enclosed compartment hides all behind dash electronics, and is provided with an access door for servicing the area, all very neatly done.
Access to the bow is limited to using the front hatch through the cabin, as the deck does not encourage walking around the side. The front hatch set-up is a good one however, and deploying the anchor is easy from here. The hatch is huge in size, and is at a workable height, giving both support to the anchor person and not getting in the way.
The bow roller is easily reached from inside the hatch, and the split stainless steel bow rails provide plenty of handholds. The anchor locker itself is huge, and has plenty of depth for a decent anchoring set-up, and the anchoring hardware is also up to the task of offshore operation.PERFORMANCE
Fitted with a pair of 70hp Suzuki 4-stroke engines (25″ legs) this 2100 felt perfectly matched. Utilizing a pair of standard 15″ aluminium propeller, the boat still pulled 38.5 knots at WOT, more than enough for the average fisherman. During the test, I also had Greg Haines (Australian Distributor for Suzuki engines), and Rod Frost (Engine Fit-Up) alongside, both of whom thought the boat may have been a little underpowered. I strongly disagreed with this comment, and don’t believe there is any need for more power, especially if you were powering with 2-stroke engines.
Here is the argument:
To go up in power will just cost more money initially through capital purchase, and give you power you will never need. The fuel expense will be considerably more, and the 2100’s range will drop exponentially; these are all issues any serious offshore fisherman will not want to hear.
When comparing this boat to the old 5.2m “Krazy Kate”, as used by PW in the late 1980’s, it becomes an interesting comparison. A smaller boat powered by twin 60hp.
2-stroke, 105.5kg engines, “KK” at WOT only pulled a maximum of 29.4 knots.
Here we have a larger, heavier boat; powered by twin 70hp, 162kg 4-strokes, pulling almost ten knots more. Quite a remarkable feat I believe, and certainly saying something for these engines, and their suitability to this craft.
Having said that, I would not opt to go down in power either, especially in the 4-stroke range, and believe you would lose the great handling of the cat.
The performance figures of this boat prove the combination is well matched. A cruise speed inshore of 4,200 rpm produced 26.2 knots, and the WOT speed of 38.5 knots is rarely matched by most other manufacturers.
Like all good cats, the 2100 is very trim sensitive, and having the ability to trim athwartships using the rim system of two engines is great. Using this system, the helmsman has complete control over everything happening.
The hydraulic steering on the boat, felt smooth and comfortable, and demanded no effort when working the boat hard in the rough.
The 2100 is provided with twin separate stainless steel fuel tanks, with separate lines to run each engine – and two excellent moulded filling ports. Having twin fuel systems is a safety feature of cats many people underestimate, and should be given more consideration, especially in monohull twin-engines rigs. If you find yourself with
contaminated fuel in one tank, you can be certain the other engine will get you home fairly easily. The twin 180-litre fuel tanks provide a decent range for this rig. Expect these engines to run at around 13.5 litres per hour each at 4,000rpm, suggesting an unusually good cruising range in the order of 300 n. miles – and that’s going to keep a lot of wide-ranging fisho’s very happy. If you intend running this boat with 2-stroke engines and need to travel long distances, I would be investigating the fuel/range factor very closely, as it may drop your range considerably.
Firstly, I have to say I had very high expectations for this boat. Having operated cats for many years, I have learnt how to get the most out of them, and this one is as good as most. Every cat is great, but some are just better than that!
Running out of Runaway Bay Marina on the Gold Coast, I had the opportunity to run this boat in both calm and rough water. The boat did everything as normal in the calm water. It had excellent stability; both at rest and underway, and turned very well (leaning out as most cats do).
Once you get a boat like this offshore though, that’s where it sorts the good from the bad. Upon entering the Gold Coast Seaway, on the outgoing tide, I found a little white-water and messy areas. The day produced 10 knot SE winds, 0.50-0.75 metre SE swell, and 0.50 metre of messy sea on top of that, so when it all met the outgoing tide and the various banks currently offshore here, it produced some very interesting water.
The boat felt very comfortable and safe in all directions. As the skipper, you always felt in control and ready to have some fun! I managed to find some one-metre waves on the outer banks and was very pleased with the way the boat handled the conditions. It surprised me, and felt as though it was very solid, and was barely worried by the steeper than average wave, about to break. The size and weight of the boat was a godsend in this situation.
Bow on, quarter on, beam on, whichever way you wanted to travel, the boat felt good. It had a definite sweet spot at 4,200rpm offshore, producing 19-20 knots across the ground.
The 2100 however did disappoint me a little, as it felt a little bit hard riding if you were too square onto the waves (for a catamaran). This is being very critical, however, and judging it on all the other cats I have
operated in this size range. It doesn’t feel as soft head on as the Noosa Cat 5.5 (we have at VMR Southport) but outperforms it in every other way.
Compared to any other monohull however, this boat wins hands down. There is simply no comparison. All those doubters out there who still say ‘cats can’t be that good’ – I urge you to go and do some hours in them in rough water.
They are fantastic in the blue water offshore – but nevertheless, they do have their down sides when their running costs and higher purchase price is taken into account.
This boat is most suited to offshore fishermen. It will appeal to those that do a lot of hours at sea, and travel long distances. For sports fishermen, it is simply superb. There will be few other boats in this size range more comfortable to do hours of trolling offshore, or provide a more stable platform to spend hours ‘on the pick’ fishing.
This boat is very well equipped with gear for sport fishing. From the tackle box in the passenger seat box, to the huge storage lockers under both driver and passenger seats, the area is not likely to get cluttered with fishing gear.
The side pockets are both deep and wide. They are also home to the battery shutoff on the starboard side, and the deck wash to port side, however there is no rod storage here.
This is addressed by four side deck mounted rod holders, and six above the hardtop. The side decks are wide, and the standard rod holders are mounted perfectly for sport fishing.
The transom is home to two large tanks, one either side, with the port tank plumbed to operate as a live bait tank. Both tanks are a good size, and perfect for offshore sport fishing. Under these tanks is more storage, and also where the fuel/water separating filters and batteries are located.
The transom also has a deck door, which is very functional and easy to use, and is provided with a stainless steel ladder for good access in and out of the water.
The heavy-duty outriggers also complement the whole set up.
The cockpit is extremely stable, due to the catamaran configuration and is totally finished with fibreglass surfaces, and therefore is easy to clean, and best of all, due to it being self-draining, it can be washed down at sea with the deck wash. The cockpit has perfect depth to provide support for the fisherman.
This is a large boat, and special consideration needs to be made about its storage. A large shed will be needed, or it must be left out in the elements.
Provided with an aluminium, dual axle teflon skid trailer made by the Kevlacat factory, the rig is quite a good set-up. Using a Sens-A-Brake power braking system, this trailer, made completely of aluminium, will not rust, and provided a bit of maintenance is carried out on the undercarriage (the brakes, springs, etc) regularly, will give many years of trouble free service.
Driving this boat onto its trailer is an easy job, and two handed at best. It really is a superb set-up.
As tested, the rig weighs in at around 2.25 tonne, fully fuelled. As well as the weight, this boat would have quite a bit of windage to it, so a large tow vehicle will need to be used for hauling the rig, something along the lines of a big Nissan Patrol Diesel, or Toyota Landcruiser equivalent.
With such a set-up, I could envisage this boat being used on the tournament fishing scene, towed from competition to competition, and being an easy to handle, but highly competitive rig.
The 2100 Offshore will be well accepted by serious tournament fishermen and recreational reef fishermen.
As a seaworthy “small” boat to trail from city to city, this rig is superb. It would be hard to find a better trailer boat. The tooling on the boat is superb, too. Interestingly, even Greg Haines of Haines Signature fame, was very impressed by the quality of the Kevlacat mouldings.
If you can afford to own a cat, and the respective expenses that go with it, this is a perfect medium sized boat that is sure to please the most discerning buyer.
It wins hands down over any monohull, ever bigger in size, and would be very well looked after in my garage!
Article taken from Australian Fisherman & Boatowner, February 2004.