Now owned by Chuck Sprague, the original 28-foot Mannerfelt “bat boat” was introduced in the United States in 1994. (All photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey.)Now owned by Chuck Sprague, the original 28-foot Mannerfelt “bat boat” was introduced in the United States in 1994. (All photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey.)

In the showy world of high-performance powerboats, getting noticed—regardless of how amazing your ride might be—isn’t easy. After all, the go-fast boat world places a premium on looks, attitude, and swagger. More often than not, the boats involved are a reflection of their owners. Let’s be honest, you don’t buy—to use an example—a four-seat, 40-foot catamaran that tops 150 mph and is painted with every color under the sun in order to fade into the crowd.

That could be part of the reason Volvo Penta elected to showcase its high-performance DPX drive on a Mannerfelt stepped V-bottom, dubbed the “bat boat” by the media for its aerodynamic wings. Named for its Swedish designer Ocke Mannerfelt, the unique 28-footer was the prototype for the twin-propeller, counter-rotating DPX unit that was introduced in 1994—and it was hard to miss.

But the visually striking boat was more than that. The narrow-nosed, winged creation truly ran like a bat out of hell. It was fast enough to earn a five-year ban from American Power Boat Association offshore racing (the politics of that sport are another long and, frankly, tired story for another time) and innovative enough to make the cover of every major high-performance boating magazine.

Three years later, the original Mannerfelt 28-footer that provided such a fine showcase for the DPX drive was shelved. And while a 24-foot version of the boat was being manufactured for a rental racing program by Reindl, the original was essentially gathering dust in a Volvo Penta warehouse.

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