owners are passionate about their boats, we learn during the launch of
the 33 Tournament Edition in the Bahamas.
Don’t back off!” yelled
World Cat Director of Marketing Pete Peterson.
Too late. A wad of water hit him in the chest, drenching his World Cat
whites. I’d done it again —succumbed to my natural inclination to slow
down when a particularly steep wave loomed ahead. Isn’t that what any
sane helmsman would do?
Not the group I was with —World Cat owners all, attending a Bahamas
rendezvous organized by the now-soggy Peterson. These guys speed up in
steep seas …but they don’t pay the usual price.
I was testing the new World Cat 33 Tournament Edition off Walker’s Cay,
the legendary fishing resort just over 100 miles due east of Stuart,
Fla. I had the boat pointed northeast into swells straight out of Africa
that were being undercut by the tidal flow off the Little Bahama Bank.
The result resembled the breakers at Oahu. Most men in monohulls reduce
speed in such conditions for fear of replacing water with air beneath
their hulls. But that’s exactly what you want to do in a World Cat
“Water doesn’t compress, but air does,” enthused World Cat President
Mike O ’Connell during a recent tour of the World Cat factory in
Tarboro, N.C. “It cushions the ride.” And when a World Cat reenters the
water, its sharply-veed twin hulls offer nothing flat for seas to slam
against —which renders the ride softer still.
I remember my first demo ride in a World Cat. The driver seemed hell
bent on compressing not air, but our knee joints and vertebrae as he
headed into a serious head sea at full speed. Up we went, and down we
came. I braced myself for the expected impact. But it wasn’t there.
Off Walker’s, what I’d been guilty of by slowing the 33 was causing the
bow to “sneeze.” That’s what happens when air trapped between the hulls
is forced out the front end of the tunnel, carrying water with it. At
trolling speed, you can trim the engines to achieve an attitude that
stifles the sneeze in a head sea. But sneezes happen. (I believe all
boats benefit from trim tabs, but World Cat claims they’re not needed.)
World Cat owners are experts on the dynamics of their craft —owners like
Jeff Eder of Boynton Beach, Fla., an ex-Viking captain. “I did a lot of
research before buying a boat of my own, because I needed something
suitable for running the Boynton inlet, one of the roughest on the East
Coast. The choice came down to two catamarans,” he told me at the
rendezvous. Eder settled on a cuddy cabin World Cat 266SF…and was soon
glad that he had. On a run out the inlet with his little boy, Jake, in
six-foot breaking seas, he inadvertently pulled the kill switch
lanyard“. The boat went sideways to the sea and I couldn’t restart the
engines [not realizing what he had done]. I thought I’d broach, but the
boat was amazingly stable. I’d have been in real trouble in a monohull.”
Like Eder, the other World Cat owners at Walker’s disparaged monohulls
as tantamount to bad memories. Seventy-year-old Dr. Richard Ehlers
wouldn’t even have a boat if a monohull were his only option. As it is,
he and his wife, Jean, trailered their 266SF across Florida from
Sarasota to join the rendezvous fleet led by Chuck Stillwell of Lentine
Marine, World Cat ’s dealership in Stuart, Fla.“ At my age, a monohull
is too hard on the body,” said “Doc ”Ehlers, who has cleverly customized
his 26, including adding an observation tower.
“World Cats appeal to veteran boaters who are sick of pounding,” said O
’Connell, who has been at the manufacturer’s helm for a year now. “It’s
a niche market, and our customers, who comprise something of a cult, are
our best salesmen. They’re veteran boat owners who are sick of
Orders are brisk for the new 330TE, the largest World Cat yet. These
power cats may look square, but they’re not for squares. New York’s
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently bought a 33 to use at his Bermuda
vacation residence; and football celeb Terry Bradshaw bought one in
The 33 incorporates the high-tech construction and components that O
’Connell believes make his boats among the best built in the industry.
The bottom is all glass, and Klegecel foam coring stiffens the
hull-sides. Penske fiber-reinforced urethane is encapsulated in the
transom and at other high-stress areas. All rails are welded and
through-bolted. PVC tubes protect hoses and wiring. Easily accessed
polyethylene fuel tanks are firmly strapped into trays adhered with
Plexus to the hull. In short, O ’Connell’s pride in World Cat quality is
While World Cats are designed with offshore fishing in mind, their soft
ride also recommends them as excellent long-range cruisers. Anglers will
appreciate the twin 35-gallon, lighted and insulated live wells and the
three big fish boxes in the 33. Molded-in toerails; excellent rod
storage in the cockpit and cabin (which is mainly for storage, but can
sleep one); abundant tackle trays; ample room for a full electronics
array, and a fast draining cockpit (six scuppers) are just some of the
other features that make the 33 a superb platform for bluewater fishing.
The boat can also stalk prey in the shallows, because it can run in only
15 inches of water (draft is a flats boat-like eight inches with the
engines up). The gunwale height (mid-thigh aft and waist-high forward)
makes the 33 extremely safe. And, of course, the stability is excellent.
One drawback to the 33 is common to most catamarans —its height off the
water. Because of the tunnel, the deck is several inches above the
waterline. This makes reaching the water from inside the boat
impossible. So, while the 33 is ideal for fishing for most offshore
species, bill fishing presents a problem. A sail fish’s bill can be
reached by raising the fish out of the water with the leader, but with a
marlin of any size this would be difficult. Thus, when releasing bill
fish from a cat, you often have to leave the hook in the fish.
Some people dislike the somewhat disjointed action cats have in
quartering, beam or confused seas. There is less of a predictable
“rhythm” to which you can become attuned than there is in a monohull. In
other words, the pitch and roll of the boat is more unexpected. Another
complaint is that they don’t “bank” in a turn and centrifugal force can
throw passengers in the opposite direction from that in which the boat
is turning. A sudden, common, sharp swerve by a helmsman to avoid
something in the water while at high speed could potentially present a
danger. I found these characteristics to be more pronounced in smaller
World Cats than in the 33, however. And there are “tricks to driving
cats that minimize these traits. The World Cat owners at Walkers assured
me that you soon get used to how the boats behave, and unanimously
proclaimed the breed’s virtues to far outweigh any vices.
Over and over, I heard the same thing: “you have a bad back ….If you
have bad knees ….”
“I ’m getting old,” said Brian Boss of Lake Worth, Fla. (he’s 45). “I
was looking for trailerable boat that could go anywhere, but I didn’t
want to beat myself to death and come back with a sore back.” His choice
was a World Cat 266SC with 130-hp Hondas. “I ’m real happy with the ride
and with the Hondas. I’ve never had a problem with them, but I wish I
had 200s, especially when the boat is fully loaded,” he said.
Alkis Kourkoulos, a mechanical engineer, accompanied Boss. They met on
the World Cat Forum Web site. Said Kourkoulos, “From an engineering
standpoint, it makes perfect sense. The two hulls are like two knives
that slice through the water.” Kourkoulos fishes the Middle Grounds, 100
miles northwest of Clearwater, Fla., in a 266SC. “I give three-to
four-foot seas no thought. What else is there at this length?” he asked.
If he were asking that question about the 33, the answer would be the
Glacier Bay 3470, with twin cabins, head and galley and Honda 225s for
$229,000 (see “Baja or Bust, ”October). ProSports has a 3660 Sport Cuddy
with Yamaha 300 HPDIs for $188,000.
The 33 topped out at over 40 mph with Yamaha 250s. “Expect 50 with the
new 300s,” said Peterson. (I’m skeptical.) Yamaha or Honda 225s are the
most popular engines in World Cats sold so far. Peterson said they do
the same job as the 250s, except for the hole shot.
Brand loyalty aside, I’ve never met so many people so enthusiastic about
their boats. World Cat’s “air compressors” are addictive. When the fleet
of World Cats left Walker’s, it was rough. The wind was blowing the
wrong way —from the west, and they faced over 100 miles of steep head
seas. But no one seemed concerned. That kind of evidence is convincing.
©Motor Boating Magazine, December 2003