A capable family fishing boat with walk-through versatility and surprising performance
POWER CATAMARANS MAKE UP ONLY A FRACTION OF THE OUTBOARD FISHING-BOAT MARKET, BUT THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF WORLD CAT’S RECENT MODELS IS SUCCESSFULLY BRINGING THEM INTO THE MAINSTREAM.
On the heels of last year’s introduction of the 280CC-X comes the builder’s latest broadside, the 296DC, a smartly designed dual- console model with the features to serve as both a great family boat and well-equipped fishing platform. The 296DC is based on a cutting- edge twin-hull design introduced in 2015, but with a new look courtesy of the molded-in accent lines and racier sheer. The fiberglass stringer system is bonded and glassed into the hulls while still in the mold, a process that creates a strong, rigid structure ready for the inner liner, which is secured using bonding agents and mechanical fasteners. The lower, raked hardtop has rounded surfboard edges and is mounted on an overbuilt, powder- coated frame that further enhances the boat’s overall structural integrity. This time- intensive construction process translates into the boat’s quiet, surefooted performance even when running at speed and in rough water.
The bow features a Lewmar Pro-Fish windlass, a Delta plow anchor, chain and davit. Dual bow hatches open to a compartment that holds more anchor rode than you’ll ever need. The docking and anchoring cleats are heavy-duty stainless-steel pop-ups, and the grab rail runs below gunwale level. Cats carry their beam from stern to bow, which makes the bow seating area almost as large as the cockpit.
The 296’s features wraparound seating with a removable table and ample drink holders and stowage, but leave the table and seat cushions home and there’s room for two or three people casting, drifting baits, or bottomfishing. The insulated storage compartment under the starboard seat doubles as a fish box, and a rod locker under the portside hatch can also be accessed through a cabinet door on the head compartment forward bulkhead. The curved windscreen and bi-fold door open for wide walk-through access to the bow between a pair of custom Llebroc helm chairs with lift-up bolsters and drop-down armrests. Forward of the port chair, the comfy head compartment includes an electric freshwater toilet, sink with counter, and storage. The factory package comes with a Garmin 7612sxv 12-inch chart plotter/ sounder and Yamaha CL-7 engine data center that also displays GPS/chart and depth-finder data, but the helm can be configured in several ways to accommodate different electronics. Our test boat was also equipped with Optimus EPS electric power steering with programmable feedback pressure and active helm controls and gauge, which make for a positive driving experience at any speed and sea conditions. A pair of aft-facing seats in the Cockpit back up to the helm chairs. The one to starboard hides stowage underneath; the other has a 25-gallon livewell with light-blue finish. Twin fold-up jump seats on the transom bulkhead provide extra seating, while a transom door allows access to the outboards and a swim-ladder system that drops at an angle for easy boarding.
Fishing amenities include four combination cup/rod holders, two standard gunwale rod holders in the cockpit and two more in the bow; four under-gunwale rod racks in the stern, an optional five rod rocket launcher across the rear of the hardtop, plus optional Taco 380XL outrigger bases with 16-foot carbon fiber or 18-foot aluminum poles.
After leaving Bristol Marina in Charleston and idling down the Ashley River to the last no-wake buoy, we throttled up to a brisk 35 mph to get a feel for the boat’s handling. Like most cats, this one barely responds to shifts in weight as people move around the deck, but a 20-knot wind from the south combined with a chop to lean the boat slightly to port. On a mono hull, trim tabs would do the leveling. But World Cats have no tabs, so I slightly trimmed up the engine on the high side, in this case the starboard hull, to get back on an even keel. Running out of the harbor mouth, into the teeth of a strong wind, the hull showed surprising seakeeping ability. Taking waves head on at 25 mph, the World Cat rose on each before dropping into the trough softly. Regardless of direction, the 296DC cut quietly through the chop, and the more throttle I gave it, the more it got on top, topping out at 52 mph. Attacking the sea quartering and abeam, the hulls maintained tracking and remained level at speed, with minimum spray over the gunwales. With the introduction of the new 296DC, World Cat adds to its lineup a bigger platform capable of taking on many roles. Hop aboard and enjoy the ride.