When I was 16 or 17 years old, I owned a 16-foot V-bottom that would run 75 to 80 mph. That boat was a handful, but I learned how to drive it. It took time and a careful progression to top end, for sure, but I learned it.
World champion offshore racer John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine ran this 38-foot Skater catamaran up to 197 mph during the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. Photo courtesy George Denny/LakeOzarkRacing.com.
Through TNT Custom Marine, the Miami-based business I co-own with Mike Thomas, I’ve had the opportunity to run some of the fastest powerboats on the planet. Working for Powerboat magazine, I had the chance to run many, many more with my colleagues Jason Johnson, Bob Teague and Matt Trulio alongside me. Together, we ran hundreds of boats at speeds well north of 100 mph, and dozens of boats—all catamarans—at speeds north of 150 mph.
In the right conditions, 150 mph feels like nothing in some of the bigger catamarans on the market. It feels beautiful until you encounter any sort of adverse situation. And then it feels not so beautiful. The difference between 150 mph and 170 mph is like another world, as is every 10 mph beyond 170 mph.