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October 26, 2001

Grady-White F-26 Tigercat

Watch the cats and the market take off.

Anglers in remote parts of the world have been using power catamarans for many years, but cats have been slow to gain acceptance in the United States. This incredible offshore technology has really needed a big, mainstream company with unimpeachable credibility to step up to the plate, to give the catamaran concept validity in the eyes of the masses. That's exactly what Grady-White has done.

Although it's always more pleasant to fish on a calm day, our Tigercat test fell on an ideal day to evaluate a catamaran - the first planing-hull cat we've ever tested, as well. We faced 4- to 6-foot waves in the wind-against-tide Morehead City harbor channel and 3- to 4-foot seas straight on the nose heading all the 30 miles out to the fishing grounds.

Our test boat, Hull No. 1, was powered by twin 150-hp Yamaha Saltwater Series II V-6 engines rather than the maximum-rated 200s. With the 200s, expect the Tigercat to be a 50-mph boat. With the 150s, the Magellan 3000 GPS registered a top speed of 43 mph. At 40 mph, the fuel-flow meter measured exactly 1 mpg, which translated into a range of about 180 miles (assuming 10 percent fuel hold-back).

In slow-troll mode, the F-26 trails a stern wake about 3 feet long - virtually nonexistent - and no white water to speak of. At speeds above 7 mph, you'll find two distinct prop-wash lines and a single line of white water on centerline from the outboards and tunnel.

Having the engines mounted on 60-inch centers (compared to the mono-hull Grady 263 Chase's 28-inch centers) means when you put one engine in forward and the other in reverse, you can pivot like a dog chasing its tail.

Breaking with Grady-White's constantly variable vee (no two points along the hull have the same deadrise) tradition, the Tigercat's deadrise angle remains constant from the transom up to about the helm seat, at which point it starts to vary to a larger angle deep vee. That makes this F-26 Tigercat hull a deep-vee, planing hull. A displacement cat hull will be slower but will have a more fluid motion through the seas than a planing cat hull. A planing hull, like the Tigercat's, is considerably faster but still provides some of the landing-off-a-wave thud we are all used to as the chines and flat surface hit the water. But make no mistake, this boat will take much more weather than any 26-foot mono-hull and do it in greater comfort.