Still writing for Powerboat magazine in 2011, I got a call one fine fall day from an avid and energetic reader named John Caparell. A lawyer and restaurant owner by trade, the San Diego-based high-performance powerboat enthusiast had a few hundred questions about one of my stories. I don’t remember how long we spoke, but I do recall being exhausted by the time I got off the phone.
Caparell—“Kap” to his friends—is as smart as he is relentless. He’s an excellent debater with a finely tuned B.S. meter. In fact, and I think I can say this now because in the interest of full disclosure we’ve become good friends, I believe he likes to argue. And why not? He’s damn good at it.
Anyway, near the end of that conversation, Caparell told me about a “secret project” he was working on, one that was going to “change everything.” In subsequent discussions with him, I learned that his secret project was a 32-foot Doug Wright open-cockpit catamaran with twin Mercury 300XS outboard engines.
“This is going to be the finest outboard pleasure boat on the planet,” Caparell told me in early 2012 for a speedonthewater.com article. “It’s completely fresh. Blower motor cats have become stale. Outboards are the future.”
That was it. An outboard-powered sport catamaran. That was the revolution. The next big thing in high-performance powerboating was going to be something that had been done before and long ago fallen out of fashion.
Polite guy that I am, I didn’t laugh in his face. Good thing, too, as the last laugh would have been on me. Skater can’t build its 318 sport cat fast enough. Same goes for DCB Performance Boats with its 28R and MTI with its 340X. And smart money says that the same will hold true—assuming the economy stays healthy—for the new Wright Performance Powerboats 360 catamaran offered by Performance Boat Center.
Without question, the booming outboard-powered sport catamaran market owes much of its current success to the Mercury Racing Verado 400R, a world-beating supercharged beast that comes with a solid warranty and the option for extended factory protection. But Caparell didn’t know that was coming. What he did know, however, was there would be move in the go-fast boating marketplace toward simplicity, reliability, ease of use and lower cost of ownership.
“In a nutshell, I knew from my own blower motor that most people couldn’t afford to continue with big gas engines with blowers,” he said during a recent telephone interview. “Gasoline prices were going up and the trend was that they were going to stay high. I knew that outboards were going to be the future. I said that not only would every major manufacturer eventually have an outboard-powered cat, but they’d also have an outboard-powered center console.”
OK, so the outboard-powered performance center console market hasn’t yet caught fire with West Coast powerboat builders and customers. But beyond that, Caparell was correct.
Kap called it.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.