As transitions in the performance-boat world go, it’s hard to imagine a more radical change than going from a wide-open center console V-bottom to a canopied catamaran in the space of a few hours. You start with the wind in your hair and an unlimited field of vision and move to a gentle breeze from an electric fan/air conditioner and a view that most closely resembles what you’d expect to find in one of those vintage deep-sea diving suits. It’s not so much claustrophobic, at least in a ride on the scale of Brad Benson’s 52-foot Marine Technology Inc. cat, as it is cocooned.
The two boating experiences are so different that after indulging in both today during the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual Miami Boat Show Poker Run I’m having trouble “processing”—a Dr. Phil word, I know, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment—them. On one hand, I hate getting the skin blown off my face in an open-cockpit boat. On the other, I like the fresh air. On another hand, I appreciate the protection from the elements that a roof over my head affords. On another, a roof over my head kills the look and feel of the environment. And I love that look and feel.
There is no “right” answer here. There is only … preference. Where mine lies right now after today’s different boat-ride experiences, I do not know.
One thing’s for sure, I did dig the 52-foot cat’s acceleration and speed. During today’s run, we stayed respectfully within the Florida Powerboat Club’s 150-mph limit. Judging from the GPS recall of 185 mph, the twin Mercury Racing 1650-engine-powered boat had a lot more in it. Owner Brad Benson told me, over the cat’s wireless intercom headsets no less, that when they reached that number they were still 300 to 400 rpm shy of the engines’ peak operating range.
But I’ve always been an “acceleration over top speed” guy and the sustained punch coming from a combined 3,700 hp in an efficient true catamaran hull was delightful. From 100 to 150 mph, the cat pulled and pulled, and would have kept on pulling us past the FPC’s speed limit had Tom Healey, who throttles for Benson, not backed off the throttles.
So which experience is better? Either. Neither. Or both. (If I was of the means, I’d opt for both.) As I wrote earlier, I’m still working to process the experiences. But it’s great work if you can get it.