Supercat 590 Multisport

[Original article appears in November 2021 issue of Ski-Boat magazine]

Reviewed by Erwin Bursik

ON the banks of the Kowie River, adjacent to the Eastern Cape’s hamlet of Port Alfred, Supercat’s walk-on mooring at the yacht club and marina displays a few of the craft this boatbuilding company manufactures. When I visited recently, in front of me floated their flagship — a 67ft super yacht — two 29ft Slivers and their latest redesigned Supercat 590 (the original of which I reviewed in SKI-BOAT magazine back in 1998). They are all magnificent.
This awesome view encapsulated the variety of incredible craft that are produced from start to finish at the Supercat factory which is situated on a small holding just inland of this town’s industrial area. Dennis Schultz, together with sons Neil and Clinton, have been building offshore ski-boats and yachts for many, many years. Initially they built the legendary Supercat 620, 520 and Witblitz, then they began specialising in their version of displacement craft. To date they have manufactured over 60 of the 29- and 38ft models. These are mostly based in the Indian Ocean islands, but also as far afield as the Bahamas.

The Supercat 590 Multisport has been largely redesigned to accommodate the needs of the resorts operating the 38ft Stiletto and 29ft Sliver outboard powered craft based on the islands off East Africa. In essence, the Supercat 590 I review in this issue is to be used as a “sports” craft for fishing, waterskiing and pleasure rides. It will also indirectly provide a backup for those owners who can utilise the outboard motor powering the Supercat 590 as a quick replacement for the motor of the bigger displacement craft should it be necessary.
For this reason, and due to the fact that the 38ft Stilleto and 29ft Sliver are traditionally powered by outboards ranging from 50hp to 140hp, a Suzuki 140hp ATL swinging a 21 pitch stainless steel three-blade propeller was used on the craft I reviewed on the Kowie River.
At the outset I must admit I was not able to take the Supercat 590 or the latest Sliver to sea. This was because the notorious bar between the two concrete piers at Port Alfred’s Kowie River entrance to the sea was totally impassable. Huge winter swells had been generated by gale force winds the preceding day, and an unusual sand bar had formed between the east and west piers; at low tide it was so shallow that surfers were walking over it on this spring tide. This sand build-up has never been experienced before at this launch site although, under normal offshore sea conditions, boats have only been able to go to sea on the high water.
On the day of the review the spring tide had just turned from spring low and the incoming tide was still meeting the outflowing Kowie River water, producing a horrible “graau” at the entrance over the sand bank. I admit I am Mr Chicken, and I had no wish to go swimming in that freezing, horrible water in mid-winter.
Neil and Clinton who are now running Supercat Marine grew up on the Kowie and arguably know the conditions of this launch site better than most; they strongly supported the decision not to tempt fate. We thus spent a lot of time “playing” on the upriver side of the sand bar, spinning the 590 into and around in front of the ugly churned up rollers that were coming over the bar into the river.
The excessive power and torque of the 140hp Suzuki initially frightened me a tad until I got its feel and was able to control the rate of throttle increase during tight turns. Her performance with a roller about to ride up her stern was electric; the Supercat 590 is very stable in the turn and out of the hole.
While assessing all the above, one must take into account the fact that this craft has a single engine installation that essentially allows one to turn extremely quickly, but does not provide the same stability within a tight turn that one would get from a dual engine rig.
Watching Clinton handle this craft as he ventured far closer to the washing machine than I would have dared, I witnessed the dexterity he displayed in the bumpy waves. Seeing him spin the craft to escape the blinders building up over the sand bank showed me not only what this craft was capable of handling, but also just how proficient Clinton is with the throttle of the 140 Suzuki, and how in tune he was with the speed and condition of the horrible sea in which he was playing.
All regular SKI-BOAT readers will be aware of my reserve regarding speed over water, but with Clinton at the helm—and me trying to ensure I didn’t have my glasses whisked off my head—we ran upriver at a top speed of 70 knots, yes 70 knots, with the Suzuki 140 revving at 6 500 rpm. Exhilarating yet frightening.

Needless to say, when I was behind the helm the throttle never went that wide open and I enjoyed her at speeds up to 40 knots, but mostly worked on the boat’s feel and performance in the 0- to 25 knot range. Nursery school stuff, maybe, but it’s the extent most if not all craft are run out at sea under offshore conditions.
Being a single engine craft designed for the applications already mentioned, the Supercat 590 is very stylishly presented to appeal to the “sunseekers” as well as inland boaters and offshore ski-boaters. She’s the proverbial boat for all seasons.
A review of the accompanying photographs will show the open aft transom area where the original Supercat 530 has been extended. This not only acts as an “outmount”, but also facilitates extremely easy access on and off the craft. For those operating on the beaches of the Moçambique islands, for example, when the craft is backed up onto the beach it’s a simple step off the transom for a “bathing beauty”. It’s equally as easy for a spearfisher or snorkeller to board the Supercat 590 in deeper water.
Clinton uses this model of craft extensively for fishing off his home venue of Port Alfred, and says he simply slides most of the fish he catches up onto the deck. If a longer fish is caught, once it’s gaffed alongside he manoeuvres it aft and again slides it over the transom and into the large fish holds which are designed to accommodate fish as well as waterskiing and diving equipment.
The Supercat 590 I reviewed was extremely well presented and has incredibly high quality finishes both on the hull and top deck.
At this juncture it’s necessary to mention the Supercat factory with its immense array of high tech equipment including CNC steel laser cutting and bending machines, computerised design facilities that ensure the factory’s capability to produce incredible craft completely inhouse, including the 67ft yacht shown on the opening page of this article.
In Neil’s words, “With major suppliers far away from Port Alfred, our capability to make everything — including the extremely efficient 25m high mast — is a big advantage.” All this is evident when one sees and appreciates the finished craft as I did during my recent visit to Supercat Marine.
While at the factory, I witnessed the bonding of the hull and topdeck of a Supercat 590 in production and saw for myself the under-deck configuration as well as the degree of composites used in the manufacturing process. Neil also showed me the total absence of wood with the build underway, and how their buoyancy is achieved.
It was a great experience for me to see this side of the boat rather than just be presented with a completed craft to launch and try out on the ocean.
The boat has a stylish centre console with a front opening, cone-shaped cover housing not only the fuel, but also the life jackets and safety equipment. There’s also easy access to the aft side of the electronics and instrumentation panel.


The helm station itself is unique. It’s very skipper friendly and has all the instrumentation required, offering the skipper good space to stand up and skipper during rough sea conditions, and sit down on a “bum” seat with pivoting backrest while casually boating and fishing in calmer conditions.
As I intimated, the two large longitudinal below-deck holds were installed mainly to house water skis and spearguns, but also hold fish when the craft is used for fishing.
The Supercat 590 is a beautifully presented craft that will appeal to the inshore sportfisherman and the entire family.


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