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October 02, 2008

World Cat 290 Express Cabin

A boat with all the advantages of a multihull and none of the disadvantages makes for surefire popularity.

I have the reputation for being a huge fan of power multihulls. And I agree with the laws of physics that dictate a catamaran will ride much more smoothly in rough seas than a monohull. In fact, if you travel around the world to those places with some of the roughest sea conditions, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, you'll find a preponderance of cats. And those of you who bemoan the aesthetic shortcomings of power cats, take heart: Sheer lines, radius curves and other pleasing features have moved power cats away from the "brick through the water" category into the realm of "pleasing to the eye."

A spring day in Beaufort, North Carolina, provided calm waters offshore, with seas only two to three feet at their worst. Unfortunately, that represents flat-calm to the World Cat 290 EC.

My speed runs showed an optimum cruise, at 4,500 rpm, of 29 mph, getting 1.8 mpg. Wide-open throttle moved us along at just a hair better than 40 mph at 5,800 rpm while still getting 1.3 mpg. Thanks to the reduced drag of a catamaran hull form, you can expect all-around better fuel economy compared to a monohull of the same size.

Another aspect of cats some people find difficult to adjust to is the way most turn - by heeling over to the outside of the arc. Not World Cat. In fact, all World Cats turn on a dime, dropping the inside corner and spinning almost as fast as a PWC. With the combo of performance and silky power-assist steering, precious few monohulls can claim such responsiveness without tossing a passenger overboard in the process.

You'll also appreciate that with a catamaran - especially one powered with the high-torque Suzuki 250 four-strokes -- you experience no bow rise when climbing onto plane, so you never lose sight of the horizon nor those boats in front of you.

And finally, those pesky laws of physics again step into the fray when trolling or drifting in a beam sea. You won't find any monohull with the same beam that rides nearly as stable.

World Cat takes advantage of catamaran technology on all its boats but makes considerable distinctions between its cruising and fishing models. In addition to a virtually clear wake at trolling speeds, the 290 EC features a walkthrough transom, allowing you to release or boat a fish with far greater ease than leaning over a gunwale.

Again, stability makes the World Cat a terrific platform for fishing with an extremely short roll moment. But one of my particular favorite fishing features comes from the squared-off bow and four bow cleats. When bottomfishing, you can move the boat laterally across structure by simply moving the anchor line from one cleat to another.

Other fishing-friendly features include a 40-gallon insulated, lighted livewell with a 1,100 gph magnetic drive pump behind the centerline helm. World Cat also engineers a comfortable, aft-facing seat atop the livewell along with a footrest to make watching your trolling spread less onerous. In addition to full-column water input, clear gasketed lid and baby-blue interior, the livewell provides a rigging station with cutting board and tool storage. Find built-in lure and tackle drawers in the bridge-deck bulwarks.