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A big cat with plenty of ponies

I had a chance this fall to test Seven Marine’s 557-hp outboards, and they were hanging on the transom of a cool new power cat — the Insetta 45 from American Marine Design, a small builder in St. Marys, Ga.

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Vice president Robert Presby worked for Boston Whaler in the design, R&D and construction departments, which explains the high standards that are evident on this center console.

The company, which employs seven people, builds the Insetta 45 using vacuum infusion, vinylester resin and PVC-coring.

Quad 300-hp Mercury Verados powered the first boat, and a pair of the 557s were on hull No. 2. “I am a believer in technology. The boat can take up to 1,400 hp,” Presby says. The third boat will have diesels.

The highest-horsepower outboard on the market, the 557 uses a marinized GM small-block V-8, with a displacement of 6.2 liters. Midrange acceleration was impressive, and the Insetta’s power steering worked flawlessly. She hit 60 mph with throttles pegged, but Presby thinks different props will get her to 65 mph. American Marine Design, founded in 2007, has designed the boat for offshore fishing and day cruising, with lots of deck space — beam is 11 feet, 8 inches — and a full berth and head in the console.

Performance with the four Verados is similar to the Seven Marine-powered boat. Both get about 0.85 mpg at 30 to 45 mph. With the prop adjustments, Presby thinks the boat can get 1 mpg.

A fully outfitted Insetta 45 with the Seven Marine 557s is, coincidentally, $557,000, about $50,000 more than the quad-Verado boat.

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January 2014 issue