A power cat with pod drives

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South African boatbuilder Africat Marine has delivered its first Africat 420 with pod drives to the United States. It’s the only production power catamaran available with Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System, according to the company.

South African boatbuilder Africat Marine has delivered its first Africat 420 with pod drives to the United States. It’s the only production power catamaran available with Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System, according to the company.

“We will never go back,” says Stuart Hegerstrom, director of sales for Africat Marine USA of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In Africat’s experience, he says, the IPS drives deliver on Volvo Penta’s claims by improving acceleration, top speed, fuel efficiency and handling over conventional inboard shaft drives. IPS doesn’tincrease the boat’s draft, he says, and occupies less space in the engine room.

Before final commissioning in the United States, buyers are invited to Africat headquarters in Durban, on the eastern coast of South Africa, for sea trials. “The seas down there are particularly bad because you’re straight off the Southern Ocean with no protection,” says Hegerstrom, who hails from South Africa, explaining the preponderance of multihull builders in his home country. He tells of running sea trials with green water coming over the cat’s flybridge.

There’s another side to South Africa’s history of catamaran development, though. In South Africa the power cat design originated at StellenboschUniversity, in Western Cape, during the apartheid era. The country was forced to develop its own military patrol boats due to the arms embargoes imposed on it during what Hegerstrom refers to as the “bad old days.”

Sailing catamarans also are prolific in South Africa, he notes, but while some sailing cat builders have tried to adapt their hulls for power, Africat set out to design a power cat from the keel up. “We wanted to design a power catamaran that can handle severe bluewater conditions,” he says. “We’ve put it through its paces.”

The early Africats sported a semidisplacement catamaran hull form designed for inboard V-drives. The builder had to redesign the 420 into a planing hull to make it perform up to Volvo Penta’s standards, Hegerstrom says, and it enlisted New Zealand naval architect Angelo Lavranos to refine the hull. The 42-foot Africat, which has a 22-foot beam, is available with twin IPS diesels from 260 hp (IPS 350) to 435 hp (IPS 600). Regardless of engine size, Hegerstrom says, the boats seem to cruise best at 23 mph, consuming 1 gallon of fuel per mile.

The 420 is available in either a three- or four-stateroom layout. In the three-cabin configuration, the master stateroom is in the starboard hull, with a private head compartment, changing area and separate stall shower. The second and third staterooms are in the port hull and share a head compartment.

The saloon, galley and bar area are on the main deck level. The saloon is surrounded by windows for plenty of natural light, and includes a semicircular seating area with a dinette table. A second nav station is available for the saloon. The galley includes a three-burner stove, refrigerator and freezer, Corian counter tops and double stainless steel sink. The bar area comes standard with an icemaker.

There’s a large covered seating area on the aft deck and a molded table. “If you’re having a party, you could fit 15 people outside quite comfortably,” says Hegerstrom.

Molded stairs lead from the cockpit to the flybridge, where the helm is placed on centerline. There’s additional seating, including a companion seat to port of the helm, as well as a refrigerator and icemaker.

SPECS

LOA: 42 feet

BEAM: 22 feet

DRAFT: 3 feet

DISPLACEMENT: 26,450 pounds

HULL TYPE: planing catamaran

TANKAGE: 630 gallons fuel, 210 gallons water

POWER: twin Volvo Penta IPS to 870 hp

SPEED: 32 mph top, 23 mph cruise

PRICE: $800,000 CONTACT: Africat Marine USA, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Phone:(954) 571-9144.

www.africatmarine.com