The sheltered bay leading from Little Torch Key in the Florida Keys to the Atlantic foamed with a nasty 1-foot washboard chop, making the 5-foot ocean swells outside the reef seem positively comfortable. Aquasport’s entry into the multi-hull world handled both situations with aplomb.
The Evinrude Ficht Ram Injection 135-hp engines hadn’t been run in several weeks, and the previous night’s 50-degree temperatures would surely have made regular outboards less cooperative than Christie Brinkley at a frat party. Thanks to direct injection, both engines kicked right over, humming like sewing machines, and with nary a whiff of smoke.
Canals cut through hard coral form narrow passageways, making close-quarters handling critical. The widely spaced engines afford such easy maneuvering that even neophytes can feel confident.
Winds blowing 25 to 30 mph out of the northeast provided an upwind/downwind average top speed of 48 mph at 5,300 rpm. I found 33 mph at 4,000 rpm to be a very comfortable cruising speed.
Whether in 1-foot chop or 5-foot rollers on the beam, the roll moment proved quite comfortable. Any catamaran will have a quicker-transition roll than a monohull since both of a cat’s twin hulls have buoyancy. Therefore, the boat doesn’t roll as far to each side before rolling back in the opposite direction.
The Aquasport Cat ran very flat no matter the engine trim angle (it sports no trim tabs). However, trimming the engines up does accomplish two desirable functions. First, it lifts the boat up out of the water, resulting in less wetted surface. Second, the water’s surface also meets the hull farther aft (where it’s flatter). These two factors contribute to better fuel economy from reduced drag.
This cat won’t get up on plane with one engine. A hard-over turn at cruising speed causes the Tournament Cat’s stern to slide around, eliminating any forces that might toss a passenger laterally. The 230 actually spins – almost on its axis – quicker with just one engine accelerating than it would if you had one engine in forward and the other in reverse.
This cat serves double-duty as both fishing platform and family runabout. Fishing appointments include a large, circular baitwell on centerline in the transom and fish boxes amidships to port and starboard as well as several more in bow. The well-padded cockpit coaming met my leg just above the knee, leaving plenty of room beneath for my feet to keep my center of gravity inboard. In fact, I found the entire cockpit to be very secure and easy to work.
Aquasport wisely didn’t put rocket launchers along the back of the leaning post, so you don’t need to duck each time you cross the cockpit. Putting some on the T-top (or hardtop in our case) boosts the amount of rod storage at your disposal. Our prototype boat sported a total of 14 rod holders, which seems adequate for any 23-footer. I especially liked the lockable rod storage in each midship bulwark.
Design and Construction
I’m particularly grateful to American engineers. Travel the world and you’ll find loads of catamarans plying rough ocean waters in the remotest places and exhibiting one common trait: They are all butt-ugly. One of the greatest challenges for American designers and engineers must be to fit superior catamaran technology into an attractive, desirable package. Comparing this cat to other multi-hulls out there, I can readily see that Aquasport more than meets this challenge.
Sweeping lines and loads of curves take away the boxy look of the Aquasport Tournament Cat’s ancestors. A big swim platform allows the 230 to double as a great dive platform, while the spacious transom provides easy access to pumps, tackle storage boxes and saltwater washdown. The transom, made of fiberglass composite material, offers a greater strength-to-weight ratio than wood, without the possibility of rotting, resulting in a five-year hull warranty.
The forward seat opens on pneumatic rams to reveal access to console wiring and storage. Thankfully, the ergonomics of the console work really well whether you’re standing or using the leaning post.
Either Little Torch Key hosts very friendly residents, or the Aquasport Tournament Cat is a particularly attractive boat. As I idled through the canals on my way out to open water, no fewer than six people shouted from backyards or other boats about wanting to swap their boat for mine.