The Powercat 525 has been around for a fair while now and while there have been plenty of developments behind the scenes, the basic boat has always remained faithful to its original form. Built to cope with the routinely ferocious Atlantic conditions of the Scilly Isles, it was designed to offer not just a soft ride in lumpy seas but also very secure and user-friendly seakeeping traits. It has developed quite a fan base over the years and that success is largely down to the simple effectiveness of the hull shape…
The trick behind the hulls
The 525 is the smallest of the five standard models in the Powercat range and although it is the entry-level craft, it enjoys a great many of the qualities that see the larger models perform so effectively in commercial and military roles. With a length-to-beam ratio of just over 2:1, this is a very wide and very stable boat with enormous load carrying ability. And yet it’s not just a blunt-headed plodder. On the contrary, the most recent (subtly revised) hull profile brings with it some important benefits - not least an even softer ride and even better swell-penetration, courtesy of the very tapered points of entry.
The hull also exhibits a significant reduction in outward heel when turning at pace. Though a natural trait of most fast cats, it is a handling quirk that can cause committed monohull fans some mild concern, so it’s good to see it tempered on the new Powercat. Another side-effect of the catamaran experience is often a little wetness, caused by air trapped between the hulls, which forces itself out through the bow space beneath the deck, flinging spray upwards and back over the boat (and its unsuspecting occupants). And yet here, this undesirable trait is also happily conspicuous by its absence.
The non-parallel forward lines of the two hulls no doubt play their part in generating these benefits, but with only the last third of the hulls running parallel, plus a slightly curved profile and an inconstant deadrise on either side, there are some extra qualities to be enjoyed. Not only is the 525 endowed with additional stability in the turn, but it also enjoys big buoyancy - sufficient in fact to enable the fully laden craft to draw just 30cm of water. Coupled with the stable twin keels and the option of protective metal bands, that makes this a very fine craft for shallow water running and perfect for explorative family beach landings.
Catamaran qualities intact
As we have seen on various other leisure catamarans, the appeal of a frugal, fast (semi) displacement boat is difficult to ignore. In this instance, you get compelling fuel efficiency, lots of internal space, great stability at rest, easy manoeuverability at close quarters and sublime softness of ride in a choppy sea. You also get the additional security of twin engines, the beaching ability of twin hulls and huge load carrying capacity. In short, with the possible exception of attractive aesthetics (which never seem to be at the top of a catamaran’s list of priorities), you get a very healthy dose of everything the sensible family powerboater ought to value - for more on the advantages of power multihulls, see Twin-Hulled Powerboats: the Advantages of Power Catamarans.
To help you get even more out of the little Powercat, you are also able to configure your 525 by selecting one of three standard layouts. You can have the Open Boat with a low freeboard for easy beaching, loading and recovery; you can have the Open Boat with high, lofty freeboards for added security at sea; or you can have the Cuddy Boat with a walkaround configuration and a small forward cabin for overnighting shelter. But whichever you choose, you can rest assured that the basic benefits of the Powercat 525 hull remain very much intact.
Rock solid at sea
Underway, the Powercat runs at low pace with great linear stability and accelerates onto the plane with no hump at all. However, the real bonus here is the comfort on offer. With the little Yamahas purring away serenely in the background and acres of space to enjoy on board, the ride over the swells feels so soft, you could almost be at the helm of a hovercraft. Certainly, it’s a level of lilting, mellifluous transit way more gentle and relaxing than any monohull of a similar length would be able to achieve.
And the ability of the 525 to make good use of minimal engine power is equally impressive. With a pair of 40hp Yams on the aft end, the progress is smooth, predictable and responsive at every point in the rev range. The rig feels thoroughly unstressed and unflappable - and whether you choose to travel at the top end of 26 knots, a more modest cruising pace of 15 knots or a pedestrian, harbour-friendly 4 knots, the 525 remains refined, composed and eminently controllable.
It’s a very reassuring boat to drive and this is a quality that should not be underestimated by a family boater. Not only does the efficient hull design and the twin engine rig enable the Powercat to run for long spells on just one engine without any problems, but the high-capacity self-draining decks are supplemented by enormous natural buoyancy. In fact, if you take a look at the Powercat website, you can watch a video of the boat being completely flooded and still running without undue concern. If that doesn’t make you feel more confident about taking your loved ones for a day of fun off the coast, nothing will.
The Powercat is a remarkably versatile boat, with the ability to be almost anything you want it to be. Not only is it easily trailered, but its robust stability, inboard space, soft ride and impressive frugality make it a very capable long-distance cruiser, a perfect platform for estuary exploration or an excellent inland fishing craft. It’s the smallest of the boats in the Powercat range but if you’ve never tried a quality leisure cat before, this little family platform might well prove something of a revelation.
For more details contact Powercats.