Without question, performance-oriented center-consoles have carried the go-fast powerboat market for the past five years. Sales of traditional fast catamarans and V-bottoms have declined, while their center-console counterparts from the same builders, who once produced nothing but fast cats and V-bottoms, have skyrocketed. And that’s a good thing, for without the addition of center-consoles the go-fast powerboat market might be dead, or at least facing imminent extinction.
To be fair, while iconic companies like Cigarette Racing Team and Skater Powerboats are still building traditional go-fast boats, that segment of the marketplace has been declining since the late 1990s. The recession of 2008 just accelerated the drop-off.
So what can you expect from the high-performance segment this year? More of the same, meaning more center-consoles and fewer pure go-fast catamarans and V-bottoms? Yes—and no. Here’s an overview of some of the more significant models coming online in 2016.
Skater 318 Catamaran
It’s fair to say that without the Mercury Racing 400R outboard engine introduced at the 2015 Miami International Boat Show, there would be not a Skater 318 cat. Peter Hledin, the owner and founder of the famed custom go-fast catamaran company in Douglas, Mich., knew the 400-hp four-stroke outboard—another home run from the engineers at the Fond du Lac, Wis., engine company—was too heavy his original 30-footer. So he added a little length to its running surface and widened the tunnel between its sponsons. (As an ancillary benefit, widening the boat also created a cockpit with the same interior space as Skater’s 36-footer.) The Skater 318 was born, and the first model was finished in the fall of 2015. With a pair of Verado 400R outboards on its transom, the boat reached 114 mph.
Nor-Tech 450 Sport CC
With five Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards—get used to reading about them because they’ve taken the high-performance powerboat world by storm—Nor-Tech’s new 45-foot-long center-console was the talk of the 2016 Miami International Boat Show among go-fast boat enthusiasts. Right out of the gate, minus its T-top (because the Fort Myers, Fla., boatbuilder finished the boat just in time for the show) the 450 Sport CC ran 88 mph. Given what Nor-Tech did with its quad 400R outboard-powered Sport 390 CC —mounting the engines on hydraulic transom jacks to help the boat top 100 mph—it’s a lock that the builder will get the 450 Sport CC to top out in the low- to mid-90-mph range.
MTI 34 Catamaran and 57 Center-Console
Marine Technology, Inc. is going in different directions for its catamaran and center-console offerings in 2016. On the catamaran side, the Wentzville, Mo., company is working on a 34-footer that will join a family of high-performance cats from 36 to 52 feet long. The tooling on the smallest cat offered by MTI is complete, and the first model should be on the water this summer. On the center-console front, MTI is going big with a 57-footer that will share the spotlight with the company’s stunning 42V model. The first MTI 57 has been completed—the company had a brief video of the hefty center-console in action at its exhibit during the 2016 Miami show—and will make its official debut at the Dubai International Marine Club in the near future.
Cigarette Racing Team-Mercedes-AMG 41 SD GT3
OK, so it’s a total one-off. But it is for sale—think seven figures—and more than a few industry observers and go-fast boat lovers see the latest marketing collaboration between Cigarette Racing Team and Mercedes-AMG as the most noteworthy, and frankly stunning, product of the partnership between the two companies since it began six years ago. Why? First and foremost, the Cigarette-Mercedes-AMG 41 SD GTE is a center console, which makes it both on-point with current buying trends and practical. (Past Cigarette-AMG collaborations have centered on Cigarette’s epic 50 Marauder sportboat.) But this beauty is powered by two 1,100-hp engines from Mercury Racing, which also makes it a true performance boat, and one that’s still practical. To his credit, Cigarette principal Skip Braver and his team at the Opa-Locka, Fla., company propeller-limited the top speed of boat to 100 mph and built it heavy at more than 15,000 pounds.
Others Worth Noting
Of course, there’s a lot more going on in the go-fast powerboat segment this year. Of particular note and in keeping with the twin Verado 400R outboard-powered sport catamaran trend, Doug Wright Designs is finishing up its new open-cockpit 32 “RT” model. The 32-foot cat is now at Grant’s Signature Racing in Bradenton, Fla., for rigging and interior installation—the latter will be handled by Fineline Interiors at the rigging shop. Another company to watch, Outerlimits Powerboats in Bristol, R.I., is working on its first-ever outboard-powered sportboat, an SL 41 model with triple Verado 400R outboards on its transom.