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Super Cat Light Raceboat Coming Back As Offshore Endurance Machine

Gone almost 15 years now, offshore racing’s Super Cat Light class was popular in its day. Canopied catamarans in the 39- to 44-foot range powered by twin Mercury Racing 525 EFI engines comprised the category. But for any number reasons, including the end of 525 EFI production by the Fond du Lac, Wis., company, it didn’t survive the sport’s eventual consolidation to its current state.

Slated for endurance-event duty, Joe Malich’s 39-foot MTI catamaran will be at the Desert Storm Poker Run and Super Cat Fest West in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., next month.

Among the last Super Cat Light boats remaining in excellent shape is a 2007-model-year, 39-foot MTI catamaran powered by 525 EFI mills with No. 6 drives and 80 operating hours. Canadian owners Brian and Wilma Ross raced the cat as Learning The Ropes for a season before exiting the sport. After that, they used it for local poker runs mostly.

That’s about to change as the catamaran has been sold through Double R Performance, a full-service Nor-Tech dealer in the Toronto area that offers of multi-brand array of pre-owned powerboats, to Seattle-based Joe Malich, the owner of Motorboat USA in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. So recent is the purchase that Malich has yet to take delivery.

The cat’s 525 EFI engines with No. 6 drives have remarkably low operating hours given their age.

“The goal is to turn it into an endurance boat to take on the 700-mile Ketchikan (Alaska) to Seattle endurance run,” Malich explained. “The last two people to do it were Paul Whittier and Kurt Willows in 1999, and they did it in a Skater 28 catamaran.”

With first-generation Mercury Racing 300X outboards on the transom of the 28-footer, Whittier and Willows set the still-standing record for the run at 11 hours and 42 minutes.

The view from the cockpit.

“It was way different from what it would be like in the same boat now,” said Whittier, who also lives in the Pacific Northwest and plans to join Malich for the record attempt when it happens. “For navigation, we had a Furuno GP 30. The American Power Boat Association gave us a week in August to make it happen. We could only wait so long so we ran in low fog for the first couple hundred miles.”

Whittier and Willows stopped three times for fuel during run. During their stop at the Port Hardy at the northern end of Vancouver Island, they replaced the lower units—as planned—on their drives. Time of year helped minimize “deadheads”—meaning floating trees in the water washed down by winter rains from the Northwest’s expansive timber operations—along the way. But they still had to contend with rough water at times.

The four-seat canopied catamaran has canopy and tunnel escape hatches for front and rear passengers.

“We got lucky with conditions,” Whittier said. “We had some rough water right before Vancouver Island and some in the San Juans, which we passed in the dark. We were able to hold 90 mph for two hours or so in a couple of sections.

“I am 100-percent in with Joe when he attempts it,” he added. “The record I set with Kurt is easily beatable, especially if we add fuel capacity so we only have to make one stop.”

Malich currently is weighing power options for the cat. The relatively low hours on its 525-hp Mercury Racing engines make them a viable choice, but he’s also considering repowering the boat with either Mercury Racing V-10 400R outboard engines or diesel mills from Cummins Marine.

Whatever power move he makes, he’ll be working closely with Dan McNamara, who currently holds San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Francisco to Long Beach records, at Team Archer Marine in Huntington Beach, Calif.

“I would say diesel is the best bet for reliability and fuel consumption,” McNamara said. “The new 6.7-liter Cummins diesels can rev to 3,300 rpm, so if we go that route we would keep the No. 6 drives and go with a 1:1 gear ratio.

“It’s already set up as an endurance boat as it has four seats and a canopy,” he added. “That way, the team could exchange driving duties.”

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The former Super Cat Light raceboat is in excellent shape from bow to stern.

The 39-footer will be delivered directly on its MYCO trailer to Malich’s second home in Lake Havasu City, where he plans to run it in the upcoming Desert Storm Poker Run and Super Cat Fest West events next month. From there, he’ll bring it back to Seattle.

Before he attempts the Ketchikan-to-Seattle trek, Malich plans to compete in the 2023 Around Catalina Island event in the growing Ocean Cup Series of offshore endurance events.

“We definitely want to do the Around Catalina run and we easily could keep the 525s in it for that,” he said.

Editor’s note: Speedonthewater.com will follow this project as it progresses.

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