Each of the three dedicated high-performance boats we ran with offshore powerboat racing veteran Billy Moore, who works for the Fountain Powerboats, Donzi Marine and Baja Marine brands, earlier this month in Washington, N.C., delivered a different thrill. The Fountain 47 Lightning was equal parts showpiece and rocket-ship. The Donzi 38 ZRC was as spirited and sexy as it was elegant and timeless.
Even sitting still, the Fountain 34 Thunder Cat looks like the hot rod it is (click image to enlarge). Photos by Mark Spencer courtesy/copyright Iconic Marine Group.
Some of that, of course, had to do with scale. The Pamlico River presented zero challenge for the 47-foot Fountain and 38-foot Donzi, and as we expected they easily dominated the six- to 12-inch chop on the windblown waterway. For the 34-foot Fountain cat, those conditions were ideal for speed runs and handling drills. And while the ride was smooth—far smoother than what we’d experience in the company’s previous sport catamarans—we could feel the waterway a lot more than we did in the two substantial V-bottoms.
Fountain powered the 34 Thunder Cat with twin Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines. With that power, Moore had no trouble running the boat to 125 mph—with a full tank of fuel—but chose not to push it any harder in the gusty crosswinds. The GPS recall showed a top speed of 133.3 mph.
Although we’re saving the other performance numbers we gathered for our complete feature on the boat in the upcoming November/December issue of our digital magazine, standing start and mid-range and acceleration, as well as time to plane were stout and impressive. The 450-hp supercharged V-8 outboards reportedly produce 40 percent more torque than their six-cylinder 400-hp counterparts, and that really shows in acceleration drills. (The V-8 roar is a delightful added bonus.) That plus tight handling manners made the 34 Thunder Cat feel like a sportscar.
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images of the Fountain 34 Thunder Cat.
Also worth noting? While the 32-foot Thunder Cat prototype we ran in 2017 at the Miami International Boat Show and a subsequent model we tested in our 2018 Sport Catamaran roundup on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri were a bit rough around the edges, the 34 Thunder Cat was a far more-finished and well-detailed-and-equipped product. We also appreciated the cat’s four-bucket-seat cockpit, which included a three-position bench seat and gauge-free helm station with a Garmin GPS unit supplying all the necessary information to the driver.
“It’s just a really, really fun boat all around,” said Moore after out test session as we idled through the short channel leading to Fountain headquarters. “It’s a blast.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Editor’s note: Look for a complete feature on the Fountain 34 Thunder Cat in the November/December issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.