Trailerable alloy powercats are not common in New Zealand but they do have their followers. Last year when Barry Thompson reviewed the prototype for this boat he wrote “Wow, what a ride! Recently the magazine was given the opportunity to sample the production version. The test this time was no different, in fact it would be fair to say the ride and handling was even better.
The AirCat 625 ride is exemplary. Test conditions were a light to moderate breeze but with a 2- 3m swell. Just the conditions the Aircat was designed for. Extremely stable at speed and confidence inspiring. The AirCat slips on to the plane with no noticeable hump out of the hole and accelerates to top speed softly and effortlessly powered by the 200 Hp Honda. The AirCat turns flat and controllably with no lean out and no cavitation. It creates an air of confidence in the boat that is quite reassuring, making you think that no matter how hard you push it in rough water, it will remain controllable with a soft ride. Although the Aircat 625 incorporates a number of refinements above the waterline and the overall length has been increased 500 mm to 5.85 m, the hull shape is fundamentally the same.
THE DESIGN CONCEPT
The AirCat is an imposing boat that looks purposeful. Aiding the look are the carbon wrapped hull sides and console. The nice touch to the look is hard wood trimming on the hard top, console and trailer steps.
The hulls are semi asymmetric with a very deep 50-degree Vee forward section. The inside vee flattens to a flat planning section. The outer vee spirals down to a 12-degree Vee at the stern. According to designers Blair Mclay and Roger Tweddell, cat hulls present a minimal frontal projected area. i.e., they are inherently easier to push through waves and deliver a softer ride with very good stability.
The AirCat has very deep vee forward sections helping it to ride softly through chop and waves. The flat sections aft help keep the hulls trimmed correctly and lifts the hulls free of the water, lowering displacement at speed. The consequence of this says Tweddell, is not only a soft ride but it is more stability at speed and dryness.
In fact, even in very rough water very little, if any spray was felt by the crew. Critically being a single-engine cat, it does not cavitate on take- off or in hard turns and tunnel mist and spray off the outboard is practically zero. Hull noise is unusually quiet for an alloy boat.
Going out and presenting the proto-type to the market has given the AirCat team an opportunity to gain a lot of feed-back. Whilst they felt that the hull shape was already excellent, they wanted to hear what the target market might expect from their boat. Being conceived as a reasonably hard-core fishing platform with divers, hunters and other water- sports in the picture, they felt it was vital to ask questions. In many cases answers have been incorporated in the many detail changes that have been made and features that have been added. It is clear this boat is intended for the sport-fisherman and offers all that is needed in a very compact package.
The Aircat 625 is very spacious. It seems bigger than it is. Very noticeable is its incredible stability at rest. A consequence, of the asymmetric cat hull design pushing the buoyancy right out to the edges. Crew can all go to one side and lean over the gunwale without worry. The sole depth has been increased dramatically over the proto in line with feed-back. It is now 150 mm deeper and the internal rear coaming also sports a padded foam, bolsters.
The emphasis in this boat is on enhancements for its intended use. it is remarkable how many features have been put into this sub 6m boat. it offers a lot of usable space as shown by its 7.2 sqm of cockpit sole area.
Starting at the bow the Aircat incorporates a self-launching anchor bow sprit and leveller for the drum winch. Large lockers either side of the Maxwell drum winch locker provide excellent storage for life jackets and other gear. A detachable grab rail connects to the forward bulk head and Railblaza attachments can fitted for spearguns, rods, firearms and boat hooks.
It can be disassembled for stowed when not needed. On the front of the centre console are 2-fold away dickey seats that give a great seating area for crew at rest and underway. It is surprisingly sheltered from wind and spray and the hull copes well with the weight forward, giving effective seating for a crew of four. The side decks are wide and offer comfortable seating, with a raised coaming forward, to offer better protection from sea slop and spray.
The centre console has a number of clever little features. Side Inspection hatches allow easy access behind the dash. The 12” Garmin sounder/plotter combo is set in an angled binnacle for easy viewing. A fusion stereo sits below with speakers in the ceiling. There is a dash glove box and another large glove compartment incorporated into the ceiling above the helm. Below the dash are two hatches giving access to a large storage space. Next to them are fold away hard wood foot rests giving good support when sitting in the superb Hi-Tech Bolster Elite seats. The seats swivel and adjust with fold away bolsters. They are on an adjustable frame giving even more adjustment fore and aft. Coollie bin storage is beneath the helm seats.
Fishermen are well catered for. There are four rod holders in each side deck, six in the rocket launcher, two on the forward bulk head, two on the aft transom and four on the bait station making a total of 22. The Striker Marine bait station on the transom features tackle drawers and is modular enabling it to be easily removed or positioned fore and aft on tracks to suit. Kilwell telescopic outriggers mounted to the hard top complete the dedicated fishing boat picture. There are grab handles on the rocket launcher for standing crew.
The transom contains the dual battery locker, below the bait station with a wash down pump locker beneath that again. An innovative tuna tube set with integrated handles sits either side of the transom. With fishing in mind there is a long fish locker integrated into the centre hull pod. On one side of the bait station is the large live bait tank and the other side has another fish /dual purpose locker. The dual walk thru transom has drop in wash boards can be removed and stowed.
The cockpit sole and decks are covered in Nano Grip Steel Grey from U-Deck. The excellent LED lighting is provided by Narva with an extra powerful front spot light, rear flood lights, red console lighting and gunwale strip lights.
On the mechanical side the 200 Hp Honda is controlled by Fly by Wire and linked to a Garmin i20 display. It is swinging a 15” x 21”- pitch prop, giving it a top speed in the low to mid 40 knots with a comfortable and easy cruise between 22 and 30 knots. Fuel is 220 litres in two x 110 litre tanks, one in each hull. A highly reactive zinc anode is fitted to the hull for extra corrosion protection.
The tandem, braked, alloy trailer is custom designed and built by Tekam Marine for the AirCat. It features an electric winch and extendable drawbar for beach launching.
In conclusion, this boat sets the bar high for sub 6m boats. The 5.8m long Aircat 625 will appeal to dedicated fisherman and divers who want all the ride comfort, sea keeping qualities and features of a big boat in a compact and convenient package. This is the core of AirCat philosophy as explained by Brian Nicholls and Roger Tweddell, partners in Tekam Marine.
Model AirCat 625
Year Launched 2022
Priced from NZ$133,000 Construction 4 mm Alloy
LOA 5.85 m
Beam 2.25 m
Cockpit sole area 7.2 square metres Deadrise (Transom) 12 deg Test power 200 HP Honda Power Range 115 to 200 Hp Test Propeller 15” x 21” S/S Fuel 220 litres
MFD Garmin 12
Winch Maxwell Drum Winch
Tow weight (dry) 1800 kg
Trailer Tekam Marine