Aquasport's 161 Tournament Cat packs a lot into a small space.

Aquasport's 161 Tournament Cat packs a lot into a small space.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sometimes the perfect boat has a little bit of everything. That was my initial thought as I stepped aboard the Aquasport 161 Tournament Cat. We had rod holders, a small (8-gallon) livewell, storage space and enough room to cast and fight a fish around the compact center console.

The Cat was just one of more than a dozen boats docked at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Resort marina this fall, all 2002 Genmar models ready for testing by a group of boating writers. I somehow gravitated toward the cat, curious how the small sponsoned hull would handle a choppy bay.

After tucking my cameras in the forward console seat dry box, I took the helm of the 16-foot, 1-inch cat and idled it out of the marina.

Once out of the manatee zone, I nailed the throttles and was surprised at how quickly the cat popped up on plane and how eager it seemed to eat up the chop. I eased back to take a sharp turn, but found I could just as easily have made it at a higher speed.

I stood to feel the full effect of hitting my own wake, but there was very little disturbance. The cat drove right through it. The only discomfort was determining where to put my feet because the deck arches above the tunnel. I stood with one foot at normal deck level and the other several inches higher. Sitting in the cushioned pedestal seats was the better option.

Aquasport describes the 161 Cat as its "big little boat." And for a smaller vessel, it does feel decidedly roomy with its 7-foot beam. I would have loved the opportunity to drift some quiet bay and cast along the mangroves for snook. Or net a handful of finger mullet and find a productive inlet.

I could tell the platform would be stable. And with a 14.5-inch draft (engine up), I figured I could go just about anywhere.

Yep, a little bit of everything is sometimes all you need.

For more information about Aquasport's 161 Tournament Cat, contact Aquasport at (941) 751-7886 or visit


Draft14.5" (engine up)
Weight (w/ 115 OB)2,000 lbs.
Fuel capacity27 gal.
Max power115 hp
Top speed39.6 mph
Base retail price w/trailer$13,025