Kevlacat 2400 Offshore Boat Test

Kevlacat 2400 Offshore Boat Test

Kevlacat has an enviable reputation for manufacturing exceptional powered offshore fishing catamarans. The boats are proven performers in rough water, with smooth-riding hulls and excellent cockpit layouts for serious fishing. Jeff Webster takes a fresh look at recent refinements to one of the classic trailerable models, the 2400 Offshore Hardtop.

Kevlacat 2400 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Kevlacat 2400 Offshore: SMOOTH OPERATOR
Author and photography: Jeff Webster

This boat test ran in ISSUE 120 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2016

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Kevlacats have long been highly regarded by sport and gamefishermen. Ever since the company was founded in 1985 by die-hard anglers Fred and Jack Temminck, Kevlacats have been the go-to brand for powered catamarans for offshore fishing.

Part of the success of the Kevlacat brand is due to its excellent handling, ride and performance. The interior layouts have been and still are far better suited to fishing than other catamaran brands. Kevlacats have always had clean, uncluttered cockpits with ample freeboard and good ‘toe-under’foot support along the cockpit sides. They also offer easy fishing access over the transom and engines, as well as a range of standard fishing inclusions.

The wide-beam, non-trailerable 2800 and 3000 model Kevlacats have been particularly successful as recreational and charter fishing craft, while the smaller models, particularly the original 5.2m series Tournament models, continue to be highly regarded among trailerboat anglers.

New Sleeker Design

Another ripper trailerable model is the 2400 Offshore. Based on the original, but rather ungainly-looking 6.2m boat launched back in 1985, this improved model is the largest of the Kevlacat trailerboats and was the model tested for this review.

The Kevlacat 2400 first appeared back in 1998 as the SF2400 Offshore. With the 2400, the Kevlacat designers lengthened the hull, refined the topsides and added a much sleeker and more attractive cabin and deck.

Since its debut some years ago the 2400 Offshore has undergone a number of upgrades and the refinement process continues. For example, a new step or chine has been added to the stem of each sponson to provide more lift in the bow for improved following-sea performance. This was to counter the extra weight of a recently introduced model that features a full hardtop/enclosed saloon configuration.

Our test rig was the standard Offshore model with fibreglass hardtop and clears with zip-out sections for good ventilation. The clear curtains run on sail-tracks under the hardtop and are intended to remain in place most of the time, although they can be removed of course.

The Kevlacat 2400 is a wide-beam (2.5m), full-bodied, high-volume trailerboat. It stands tall on its dual axle trailer and weighs approximately 3000kg in highway trim. Accordingly, you will require a substantial towing vehicle to haul this boat about on its Sea-Link brand trailer with full break-away braking set-up.

The 2400 Offshore has a moulded hull length of 6.5m, although the overall length with bowsprit and rear boarding platform is close to 7.7m. Its substantial size is particularly evident when you stand alongside it on the roadway or launch ramp. However, despite its size, the Kevlacat is very easy to launch and retrieve on the supplied drive-on, skid-pad-equipped trailer.  

Lighter, Stronger Construction

Among the key selling points for the Kevlacat brand over the years has been the strength, weight reduction and durability achieved through the use of Kevlar cloth in the construction process. Kevlar is used as the core material between layers of fibreglass to achieve superior strength, rigidity and safety. For added strength, internal bulkheads stretch the full width of the boat from hull to hull.

For added safety, each hull has five fully sealed air chambers, as well as the fuel tank cavities. Foam flotation to Level Standard is available as an option but is generally only fitted to craft built for commercial applications. Above decks the cockpit floor is self-draining and fully sealed. As no timber is used during the construction process, this virtually eliminates any chance of rot.

Creature Comforts

The Offshore version of the Kevlacat 2400 is the fishing model in the range (as opposed to the Weekender model), so there are not too many concessions to family comfort. That said, the forward cabin area, while difficult to climb into, is deceptively spacious inside with reasonable headroom above the 2 x 2m-long berths.

The cabin berths stretch fore and aft above each of the sponsons. They are wide for the most part, narrowing to around 400mm in the forepeak. The best part about the berths is that you can option the boat with a centre infill cushion to convert the two individual berths into one massive double bed that takes up the entire cabin floor area.

Storage space is limited to a single – albeit large – safety gear locker under the starboard berth. Opposite, under the port-side berth is a deep recess that contains the optional electric flush-out toilet.

Remarkably, there is more than enough space within the recess to actually use the toilet and have ample headroom above it. A holding tank can be optioned for the toilet, or you might choose to fit a Porta Pottie-style removable chemical toilet.

As the Kevlacat comes standard with a choice of Maxwell or Stressfree brand electric anchor winches, there is no need to go forward to the bow to drop anchor. That being said, there is a glass hatch in the forward cabin ceiling to provide foredeck access, although it is probably easier to climb around the cabin sides.

The anchor ground tackle can be serviced from inside the cabin via an internal hatch in the forepeak. There is also a neat and secure hatch covering the wiring behind the helm. Like the cabin ceiling and surrounds, the hatch is carpet-lined.

A full bulkhead separates the cabin from the cockpit and the centre-opening bi-fold door is lockable – which makes it great for stowing a few of your expensive rod/reel outfits while your boat is on the trailer at a boat ramp or in a caravan park.

Dash And Helm

The helm area in the 2400 Offshore has remained largely unchanged for many years, although the dash has an enlarged fascia to cater for flush-fitting large electronics displays – such as the big Furuno TZ NavNet Touch2 fitted to the test boat. There is also ample space for marine and stereo units, switch panels, compass and engine instruments.

The steering wheel and binnacle-mount dual throttle are ideally placed to drive the boat while standing. From the helm you have excellent 360-degree visibility, and the windscreen is effective in shielding the skipper from wind and spray whenever you have the clears folded up.

The seated helm set-up can be adjusted to individual preference. While the test boat had the comfortable bucket helm chairs mounted too high up for my liking, the pedestal mount can be easily cut down as required. The position of the chair on a fore and aft basis is also easily adjusted as it has a sliding base.

The helm and passenger chairs are mounted on pedestals above fully moulded fibreglass storage boxes. Each is foam insulated so you could use one as an icebox and the other as a fishbox or for general storage. Although there are no seats in the rear cockpit, aft-facing cushions on each of the storage boxes provide much needed extra seating.

Other features worth mentioning in and around the helm area include moulded foot rests, EPIRB and fire-extinguisher recesses, built-in terminal tackle drawers (next to the passenger seat), access hatches to service the included water-separating filters, and a useful stainless-steel hand rail on the port side of the dash.

Cockpit And Fishing Features

As I mentioned earlier, Kevlacats have always had well-designed fishing cockpits and the 2400 Offshore is no exception. For sport and gamefishing the cockpit is very well sorted, with the rear deck layout in this boat having been refined and improved over a number of years. The large cockpit measures 3.4m from the cabin bulkhead back to the transom wall and a full 2m aft of the moulded helm-seat boxes.

At 2.3m, the cockpit is also wide and uncluttered. In fact, there is so much open space that I would be tempted to fit a small game chair to the centre of the cockpit – or perhaps a work station/storage box with a game chair on top of it. This was a standard and welcome inclusion on the old Kevlacat Tournament models of the late 1980s.

Of course, good cockpit design is not all about space – but then the Kevlacat has most of the other important bases covered too. For example, at 650mm the side coamings are just the right height above the deck. Measuring 210mm in width, they are also ideal for fitting extra rodholders, outriggers or a downrigger.

You can stand in the transom corners and fish over the top of the outboard engines or walk and fish out between them on the extended boarding platform, which is caged off for security. The cockpit floor is sealed and fully self-draining, with scuppers in the centre and cockpit corners. The large centre scupper also has a flange/backing plate behind the opening to stop seawater from rushing into the cockpit under pressure when you are reversing down on a gamefish. Clever thinking.

The dual batteries are tucked out of the away and protected on elevated platforms behind So-Pac hatches on each side of the rear cockpit, while the stern cleats are recessed to prevent them catching on the leader while locked-up tracing a big fish.

The short side storage pockets are elevated well above the floor, while the sidedeck and transom wall moulding is designed so you can brace your feet under it for security in rough weather. In fact, there is excellent foot-well bracing all the way around the cockpit, including the open section under the drop-in rear transom door.

For livebait fishing there is a large, semi-circular livebait tank built into the deck of each transom corner. The starboard side tank is plumbed ready go but plumbing for its opposite number is optional.

The test boat was also fitted with an optional and removable bait board, four standard stainless-steel rodholders, hardtop stainless-steel rocket launcher rod rack, optional deck wash, freshwater shower and optional blue-coloured LED cockpit lighting. It should also be noted that the quality of the fittings and fixtures, hatch covers, and railing was first class throughout the boat.

Performance

The 2400 Offshore is rated to carry dual extra-longshaft, counter-rotating outboards to a combined maximum of 300hp. Our test boat was rigged to this maximum with a pair of Mercury 150hp 4-stroke outboards bolted to the transom.

Another popular option is a pair of Suzuki 140hp 4-strokes. In fact, most 2400s over the years have been fitted with the smooth-running Suzuki motors as they are lighter in weight than the competition. For this reason, it was quite interesting to see how the 2400 Offshore would perform with the slightly heavier – if more powerful – Mercury outboard combination. However, we needn’t have worried about the added weight as the difference proved imperceptible. The test rig felt well balanced with the Mercury 150s and slid onto the plane at less than 2500rpm.

Through the mid-range the Mercury-powered test boat felt strong with ample power. The Mercs felt really punchy and from around 4000rpm onwards they launched the boat out of the water, pushing the test rig to a maximum speed of 42.5 knots.

Best cruise in the relatively calm offshore test conditions was a comfortable 26.8 knots at 4000rpm. However, the most economical cruising speed was lower at 3000rpm, with the boat/engine combination yielding a maximum range on the combined 450-litre fuel capacity (less 5% for line losses) of 295.25 nautical miles.

Handling And Ride

Inherently safe, stable, soft riding and quick, powered catamarans are excellent sea boats and the Kevlacat 2400 Offshore is all of these things and more.

Stepping aboard the 2400, what strikes you the most is its incredible stability. At rest it barely moves when you walk from one side to the other and will easily handle the weight of three or four anglers fishing over on one side.

Although we had calm seas for our test, there was enough swell and wind chop offshore to confirm the 2400 is as soft riding as previous boat tests. The addition of the new chine flats to the stem of each sponson does not seem to have altered the boat’s ultra-soft headsea ride, although we can’t say this with any surety without a direct comparison with an older-model boat. That being said, the test rig rode very comfortably throughout and felt safe, secure and stable in a following sea.

Arguably the best trait of the Kevlacat 2400 is that you can set it up at a comfortable and economical cruise speed of 3000 to 3500rpm. Once this is set, then it’s just a matter of sitting back and relaxing on the long run out to the fishing grounds. The hull tracks so straight and rides so comfortably that you barely have to touch the steering wheel.

A First-Class Gamefisher

The Kevlacat 2400 has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1998 and we can see why. The interior layout is ideal for trailerboat gamefishing and the hull offers a level of ride and performance that few other powered cats can match, let alone other monohulls.

The slight change to the sponsons at the bow has improved what was already an excellent hull, while the tweaks to the interior have taken the Kevlacat 2400 to a new level of quality and refinement. Make no mistake, the Kevlacat 2400 is a first-class Aussie product and an excellent offshore fishing boat.

Highlights

  • Very soft ride.
  • Excellent stability.
  • Wide, uncluttered fishing cockpit.
  • Solid, secure hardtop with clears.
  • No timber in construction, so rot-free.
  • Approaching classic status.

Capacities

  • Maximum power: 300hp
  • Fuel capacity: 450 litres
  • Freshwater: 60 litres

General

  • Type: Powered catamaran/cuddy cabin
  • Material: Fibreglass/kevlar composite
  • Overall length: 7.68m
  • Length: 6.5m
  • Beam: 2.5m
  • Hull weight: 1450kg (approx.)
  • Weight on trailer: 3000kg (approx.)
  • Height on trailer: 3.3m
  • Overall length on trailer: 8.4m

Engines

  • Make/model: 2 x Mercury 150hp
  • Type: in-line 4-cylinder, 8-valve SOHC EFI 4-stroke outboard
  • Rated hp: 150hp
  • Displacement: 3 litres
  • No. cylinders: 4
  • Weight: 206kg (lightest model)
  • Shaft length: 25” extra-longshaft
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.92:1

SPECIFICATIONS: Kevlacat 2400 Offshore
Options fitted: Twin Mercury 150hp extra-longshaft (25”) counter-rotating 4-stroke outboards, hardtop rocketlauncher rod rack and LED spotlights, hydraulic steering, Furuno NavNet TZ Touch2 12”multi-function display, Icom VHF radio, Fusion MP3 player with speakers, electric toilet, Maxwell HR8 electric anchor winch (with rope and chain), shower with 60L water tank, baitboard with S/S posts,lift-out transom door and dual battery systems, among others. 

Kevlacat 2400 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Kevlacat 2400 Offshore: SMOOTH OPERATOR
Author and photography: Jeff Webster
Supplied by: Wyld About Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 120 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2016

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here