Is one hull better than two? That’s the monohull versus catamaran conundrum. Early catamaran designs certainly handled differently than monohulls: They were typically slower and tended to generate a lot of hull noise when running.
Those characteristics turned off some potential buyers. But the all-new World Cat 280CC-X is a game changer. It offers fishing amenities and creature comforts with a redesigned hull and a new construction schedule that could sway even the most ardent monohull devotees. Case in point: me.
Yes, I fall firmly into the opposition camp. I’ve tested several power catamarans and fished a lot more over the years with mixed feelings. So, would the opportunity to spend a day thrashing this new World Cat just reaffirm my preference for single-hull deep-V boats?
After running the 280CC-X in extremely windy and rough conditions and fishing it at drift and at anchor, I can honestly report this is one cat that is going to win a lot of converts.
Rain poured down as I left my house on a cool November morning for the 90-minute drive to Pier 47 Marina in Wildwood, New Jersey. Forecasters said the rain would stop around 9 a.m. and the wind would pick up rapidly after the front passed — all in all a perfect day to trial a new boat.
I planned to meet Rick Traber from the marina, Wyatt Lane, director of sales and marketing for World Cat, and local charter captain Bob Cope, who was coming along to put us on some of his nearshore blackfish (tautog) spots.
The rain stopped on cue, and by the time we had donned warm clothes and loaded on food, rods, rigs, sinkers and a bucket of green crabs for bait, the wind was already honking at 15 to 20 knots from the west. Traber ran the boat to Cape May Inlet, where the wind against the tide created substantial turbulence. He throttled up and the cat did its thing. No problem!
Next stop: an artificial reef 12 miles to the north through choppy seas. I was immediately impressed with the way the twin hulls handled the conditions. The ride was soft, with no hint of slap or pounding, and the hull was dead quiet.
The three-sided glass enclosure crowning the center console and the carbon-fiber-reinforced standard hardtop protected the helm area from sun, wind and rain, making the boat a pleasure to run. The twin Llebroc high-backed helm chairs added to the comfort factor whether sitting or leaning against the lifted bolster. World Cat flush-mounted twin Garmin multi-function displays into the black face of the console, which made the screens stand out even in bright sunlight.
Over the reef site, we jockeyed for position to drop anchor using the windlass, which was located inside the anchor-locker access hatch on the bow. After a couple of near misses, the boat finally settled back on the rode directly over a prime rock pile.
The wind cranked and the waves grew, but the cat provided a surprisingly stable platform with loads of room to fish. Catamarans carry their beam width to the bow, and the result is an inordinate amount of deck space for fishing or lounging.
We dropped our baits. Before long, rods were swinging and anglers were cursing missed bites — it’s a blackfish thing — but soon fish started coming over the side and into one of the two massive, 89-gallon in-deck fish boxes.
Lane was fishing near me, so I asked him to explain World Cat’s construction methods. The 280CC-X is built on a refined planing hull with pads on the aft portion of the running surfaces so it lifts on top of a sea while retaining the soft, stable ride twin hulls provide.
“It’s also faster out of the hole and at top end,” he said with a sly smile.
The boat is surprisingly fast, with twin Yamaha F200 outboards providing the motivation. It jumped on plane quickly (Yamaha testing shows the boat can hit 30 mph in just over 8 seconds). We settled into a 32 mph cruise at 4,000 rpm with lots more speed to spare.
According to Yamaha testing, the boat tops out just a hair over 50. I also found the 280 noticeably more nimble and responsive to the helm than expected.
Lane explained that this is the first three-piece-construction boat for World Cat and that all major components, including the liner, deck, console and hardtop, have been vacuum-bagged and resin-infused for reduced weight plus increased strength. The stringer grid is a foam-filled composite structure glassed into place, stiffening and fusing the twin hulls and the arched tunnel area, and connecting them into a single rigid assembly before the inner liner is installed. Those factors combine to give the boat a solid, quiet, shudder-free ride and also enhance its tracking ability.
I mentioned to Lane that I really liked the placement of the battery switches and breaker panel under the helm seats facing the console. He explained that with the 280CC-X, World Cat had done away with mechanical switches and breakers in favor of the new Mastervolt CZone intelligent digital-switching system. It integrates all the electrical systems on the boat, and allows their operation from the two touchscreen Garmin units aboard without the need for engine gauges and separate switch panels.
The wind was pushing 30 knots when Cope suggested we run to a wreck closer to shore. The seas had grown even steeper, with the wind whipping up white caps and blowing spray across the surface. I attacked them quartering, the gusts buffeting us from the starboard side. The cat ate it up, running straight as an arrow without a hint of pounding.
Point of fact: The boat never pounded once all day, no matter the speed or sea direction. Like most cats, the 280 does not require trim tabs. To adjust running attitude, I simply tweaked the engine trim.
The spacious deck layout of the 280CC-X features a wide bow housing twin hatches, with the anchor locker to starboard and storage with a raw-water washdown to port. The wraparound bow seating comes with an insulated drink cooler and two large dry-storage compartments underneath.
Plush coaming pads extend around the perimeter of the boat. Forward-facing seating for two is integrated into the front access door of the console, which opens easily on heavy-duty hinges. Within, a step-down leads to a spacious enclosure with a Corian counter, toiletries storage compartment, standard electric head, and access panels for the CZone control box and helm electronics.
The two in-deck fish boxes on either side of the console are equipped with diaphragm pumps and drain overboard. Twin aft deck hatches provide access to two 1,500 gph bilge pumps, hydraulic steering components, fuel filters, hoses and more.
The fiberglass leaning post includes a 30-gallon insulated livewell fed by an 1,100 gph magnetic drive pump, and a tool-and-tackle storage cabinet with cutting board. Freshwater and raw-water washdowns are located astern, along with eight flush-mounted rod holders — four in the gunwales and four in the transom. Five more rod holders are found on the trailing edge of the hardtop; the large fish boxes can be used as lockable rod storage.
The fold-down aft seats were not only convenient, but they also were easy to deploy and comfortable when underway. A walk-through transom door gives access to the swim platform between the engines, and my test boat was equipped with the standard heavy-duty aluminum swim/dive ladder.
By early afternoon, the winds forced us back to the dock, where I took a long, hard look at the whole package. This is one eye-catching boat that from the side could fool you into thinking it was a monohull.
The sharp entry, graceful sheer and aft tumblehome sloping into the swim platform, along with the raked hardtop supports, create the illusion of speed, even when the boat’s tied to the dock. The wide stance of the twin Yamaha engines adds to the vessel’s overall stability and makes docking maneuvers a breeze. It simply goes straight as an arrow in whatever direction you point the outboards.
All the hardware is heavy-duty, top-quality stainless steel. The six pull-up cleats are big and beefy, and the hatch and door latches are impressively overbuilt.
With the introduction of the World Cat 280CC-X, gone are the days of the underperforming, boxy power cat. This boat is ushering in a whole new era by raising the bar for appearance, performance and technology.