The production power cat craze started several years ago, an offshoot of high-speed offshore racers. The first production endeavors were mostly fishing-oriented craft with bulky, chopped-off lines. Gradually, cats became more acceptable, the ride benefits became apparent and the lines evolved into flashy-looking craft poised to zip around the water.
Today, walking down the docks at any boat show, you're apt to find several manufacturers displaying power cats, including much larger cruising catamarans. Some builders, such as Manta Ray, only offer cats in their product range.
The Manta Ray 26 is the newest model from the Florida builder. She is constructed to keep weight low and speeds high. Aircraft-grade core materials are sandwiched with biaxial, handlaid fiberglass using high-tech resins. This lightweight construction, combined with the stepped hull design and tracking concave skis on each hull's bottom aft, provides lightning-like speeds. According to Manta Ray, the 26 can achieve a top speed of 65 mph.
The hull form is derived from offshore racing designs. In addition to increasing planing ability and speed, it provides a cushion effect at speed.
An integrated 40-gallon live well, two 5-foot-long fishboxes, rod lockers, a full-length coaming pad and a rocket launcher will turn this boat into a fishing machine.
Manta Ray Catamarans, (954) 295-5263; www.mantaraycats.com.