Reviewed by Erwin Bursik
CAPTIVATED is an understatement when searching for adjectives to describe my first impression on seeing the fully completed Invicta Cat 30 lying on her moorings in the Harbour Island Marina in Gordons Bay. I actually stopped in my tracks when she came into view. She’s stunning! I must admit to being quite moved at finally seeing the fully completed craft.
Whilst it is always a bit of a come down when I first have to board a photo boat rather than taking the helm of the craft to be reviewed, it gives me great insight when I’m able to observe the boat’s over-water performance from every conceivable angle. When I eventually do take control of the boat under review, these observations bring many aspects into perspective, giving me a far better understanding of her performance.
In the case of the Invicta Cat 30, my original introduction to her (see May/June 2022 issue of SKI-BOAT) was with the initial centre console configuration. This gave me an added advantage to work from when physically reviewing the full cabin version I had gone to Cape Town to check out.
My very positive experience of this original sleek craft was almost a race-horse-at-full-gallop outing during my first run with her in False Bay. That feeling came flooding back as I watched Henry Swanepoel putting the full cabin version through her paces for the camera.
Having preconceived ideas is almost unavoidable, and in this case I expected a less “cigar boat” performance than what I had experienced and viewed early last year, and a more staid, dignified craft when it came to the on-water experience. To my surprise, when I eventually got behind the helm, her hull-over-water performance was equally as exciting as that of the centre console boat except for one aspect — on the full cabin model I didn’t have the 30 knots of generated wind speed trying to rip my glasses and cap off my head.
Seriously, though, I did anticipate a much more staid performance due to the substantial cabin weight and increased wind resistance and aerodynamics. In fact, the cabin version still provided as exciting a ride, but with a lot more skipper and crew comfort.
Her hull-over-water stance was a tad more pronounced than I had expected, but her inherent hull design with the two transfer steps which allow passive air ventilation, still work to decrease the wetted surface of the hulls.
I noticed that with the generated power of the four Suzuki 140s only minimal bow-up trimming was required for optimal speed and comfort. Interestingly, and after much playing with trims, I discovered that virtually no lateral trimming was necessary, a factor I will discuss further down when I speak about the counter-rotating propellers used on the Invicta.
While we did not experience very rough sea conditions, there was enough bounce on the ocean’s surface to enable me to try and get her to throw water or pound coming over a crest. I tried very hard, to the extent that Henry promised me a couple of bottles of Captain Morgan if I got water on her substantial enclosed windscreen. I failed. Looking at the photographs, it’s obvious that the bow and chine spray developed is sent well aft and very low, and as such even wind-driven spray in a quartering sea did not cause concern.
It is imperative that I highlight the Invicta’s power source and the concept of using four lower rated horsepower motors as against two bigger motors, generating an equal performance overall. A large factor in Henry’s decision to use four motors was based on ensuring the crew’s safety if one of the motors failed out in the tuna grounds off Cape Town. When weighing up whether you want to return on three motors as opposed to one motor, it’s not even a question. Running the Invicta on three motors made virtually no difference to her normal cruising performance.
As a matter of interest, Henry and his team tried running the identical craft with a pair of 200hp Suzuki motors, and while her performance was virtually equal overall, there was an increase in fuel consumption. Henry has done extensive fuel flow charts and performance stats in a direct comparison between the four 140hp motors and the two 200hp motors. A pair of 300hp motors could also be used, but overall costs would be higher than the four 140hp motors, and they predict running costs would be higher too. The upside is if one motor died, one would still have an easy ride home on the other three, compared to running all that way on one 200hp motor.
The other mental gymnastics I had to do before seeing the craft concerned the configuration and setting of the counter-rotating props. A long and varied debate is ongoing, but in the end Henry fitted two counter-rotating props on each transom (see photo alongside). In effect, this produces equal thrust if the throttles are powered equally. This obviates the lateral torque one normally gets when one motor on each sponson is used.
Without exploring various other options, this large craft performed exceptionally well when I put her through numerous exacting manoeuvres. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get her to either drop a sponson or require lateral trimming; the only trimming I did was bow up or down.
While on the subject of power generation, the power to speed curve she has with four motors meant she got onto the plane very quickly at 2 700rpm and settled at 13 knots at 3 000rpm, 20 knots at 3 800rpm and maxed out at 6 000, producing 44 knots.
I have come to the conclusion that my initial reserve about skippering a craft with four motors was merely a mind over matter issue. Once I ignored the four motors versus two story while going through complex manoeuvres, and treated it like a normal exercise —just observing and feeling the craft’s performance — everything was simplified and I enjoyed the ride. In essence, the power was in the two throttle levers in my hand and not my head, which was befuddled by the four motors and the array of console gauges. This mindset change enabled me to really appreciate the Invicta’s hull over water performance.
One crucial aspect I needed to experience was the Invicta’s performance while going into tight turns, pulling out of them, digging out of the hole and getting back onto the plane, as would be experienced when taking a craft this size through the surf at a destination such as Sodwana Bay. Her torque was electric, and pulling into and out of such a manoeuvre was easy.
Thinking in terms of marlin fishing with the Invicta Cat, I ran her through all the scenarios we would do when trolling for billfish, observing her wake from 5 knots to 8 knots. Initially, I presumed that the four props would produce a lot more white water than two would have, and therefore spread the wake a lot more. Wrong. The wake created was very acceptable and really only started to spread out at over 8 knots.
The next test was backing up on an imaginary dancing billfish. With the motors trimmed out a tad and some active throwing of the throttles, she responded with minimal wash over the transom. With outriggers and a fighting chair fitted, the Invicta would be ready, willing and able to take on the billfish found off South Africa’s coast.
In this same vein, Henry told me he is busy designing a flybridge option of the existing full cabin craft. Judging by what he has achieved with the version I just tested, I look forward to seeing what ideas he comes up with in this regard.
Finally I tested her fishability. I reduced the four motors to one and tried a dead slow troll which was 700rpm RPM at just over one knot, which is acceptable for livebait trolling for gamefish, while holding direction stably in the prevailing sea conditions on autopilot.
As I have so often said about the boat reviews I do, I primarily discuss the aspects of the craft with regard to its performance on the water; the photographs convey most of what you need to know about her looks, accessories and boat layout.
To be blunt, to properly appreciate and assess any craft, talk and splurb has to be overridden by one’s personal look, touch and feel — it’s a case of getting to the craft and personally doing your own inspection of it. In saying that, it behoves me to give a general rundown on my opinion of the design implementation and the quality of finishes of the craft being reviewed. In the case of the full cabin version of the Invicta Cat 30, I was astonished at Henry’s attention to detail and the thought and practicalities of the design, especially the innovation and finishes he has achieved.
In line with what I said in my original article last year, Henry’s individualistic thinking and design is remarkable — certainly no cut and paste of other boats. This shows itself in the design and fabrication of the full cabin and its eventual completion. As an example, the exterior facade glass work frame of anodised aluminium, the comfortable helm station and setting of the instrumentation, the finesse of the seating, the exceptional electrical wiring and the accessibility thereto is all outstanding.
Understandably, with their easy access to South Africa’s incredible big tuna fishery and Henry’s passion for catching them, this has strongly influenced the deck layout and various accessories. The aft console tackle and bait station, as well as the large tuna fish hatch with washdown facility and macerating flushing system is but a taste of what thought, experience and design ingenuity has been incorporated. For further information on the full array of the extensive onboard facilities e-mail Henry <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
With a second Invicta Cat 30 in the mould as I write, I am of the opinion that Maiden Voyage Industries, under the direction of Henry Swanepoel and the watchful eyes of his father, Hendrick Swanepoel senior, will do incredibly well.
Discerning boat owners should take serious note of this extremely well designed and constructed craft that will make its mark here in South Africa and also in the international boating world. Already South African-designed and manufactured craft are recognised worldwide as being tried and tested in some of the most challenging offshore sport fishing conditions on the planet, and are respected because of it. The Invicta Cat 30 will help uphold this reputation.