Generally speaking, the annual late-August Super Cat Fest event based out of the Camden On The Lake Resort in Lake Ozark, Mo., showcases the biggest and baddest custom high-performance catamarans on the planet. Organizer Alvin Heathman has created a sensational happening that consistently attracts the best hardware on the planet from the likes of DCB Performance Boats, Marine Technology, Inc., Mystic Powerboats and Skater Powerboats. The ninth annual event Aug. 23-25 will be no exception.
But outboard engine-powered sport catamarans from 28 to 36 feet have been few and far between at Super Cat Fest. That’s no fault of the organizer as the sport cat market only has exploded, thanks in large part to the introduction of the Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard, in the past few years.
That will change this year with inaugural Speedonthewater.com/Mercury Racing Verado 400R Sport Catamaran Roundup based out of the Camden On The Lake Resort in Lake Ozarks, Mo., on Thursday, Aug. 23, the day many of the big cats also will begin rolling into town for Super Cat Fest. While the roundup officially is a speedonthewater.com event, at least by proxy it will become an early part of the amazing show Heathman has created.
We recruited a dream team of test drivers for this roundup. Our former Powerboat magazine and current speedonthewater.com columnists colleagues Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine and John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine are all in, as is our new speedonthewater.com contributor Grant Bruggemann of Grant’s Signature Racing. Offshoreonly.com columnist/speedonthewater.com co-publisher Jason Johnson and I will be riding shotgun with two of the three drivers—we’re still working on our third co-pilot.
Of course, we’ll record top speeds for each entry—all powered by twin stock Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards—and we already have commitments from DCB, Mystic, Pilini, Skater and Wright Performance Powerboats. But while we can’t stop readers from fixating on that metric, this roundup will not be a top-speed contest. (Top speed is far from everything.) We’ll also look at performance measures such as time to plane, standing start and midrange acceleration, handling and stability.
Our goal isn’t to select a “winner” based on all those criteria and more. It’s simply to present side-by-side comparisons—including manufacturer’s suggested retail price—of today’s hottest sport cats, all run by the same test teams on the same day on the same waterway. Each team will run each boat and gather its own data.
All of the results will be published in the September/October issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.
Pete Boden, our chief photographer, will capture the action, and not just for our digital magazine. We’ll be using images from the Thursday morning photo shoot for our 2018 Year In Review print magazine.
Most important: We’ll also have a professional safety crew on hand during our time on the water. Outboard-powered sport catamarans don’t post the gaudy speeds of their larger inboard engine/stern-drive counterparts, but they’re more than fast enough to warrant taking all precautions.
The boats we test will be coming to and from the Camden On The Lake docks for most of the day, which means anyone interested can come down and enjoy the show. Come Friday, the biggest and baddest cats on the planet will take their place and Super Cat Fest will begin in earnest.
So if you want to see most of today’s hottest sport cats in one place, here’s your chance—the first such opportunity since the sport cat market caught fire a few years. We hope to see you there. We’ll be busy, for sure, but we always have time to say hello.
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.