Cobra Cat 800

(SKI-BOAT March/April 2008)

Length – 8m
Beam – 2.8m
Min hp — 150hp
Max hp — 200hp
Construction — GRP
Buoyancy — Foam-filled
Power as tested — 2 x 200hp Optimax Mercury motors

IN 2004 the new Cobra Cat 800 was tested off Durban harbour by Erwin Bursik. Since then Mallards Marine have produced a number of these boats for serious big game fishermen wanting style and comfort off our coastline.

Few changes have been made to the 800 since then, aside from some customised cosmetics and removing the original flybridge. A bonus for me was that I’d driven this particular craft before, but on that occasion she was fitted with 150hp Optimax Mercury motors. She has subsequently been refitted with two new 200hp Optimax Mercs. As a result, it would interesting to compare the boat’s performance on that aspect.

The team for the test consisted of Geoff Barnes and Nick Lanzanakis from Mallards Marine, and Peter Lapersonne, the proud owner of the Angler 210 — the other boat we were testing that day.

On the water the Cobra 800 really stands out. Like all of their models, it is not difficult to identify these craft from a distance as they have a particularly distinct look. The 800 boasts a sporty appearance and, with a good length and beam, you immediately get the impression that she’s a very comfortable craft.

As in the Angler 210’s test, it was a genuine summer’s day test with the dreaded north-easter blowing off Durban at around 25 knots early in the morning. Nonetheless, it was sunny and I had the 800’s cabin to hide in for the first part of the test.

As the craft is permanently moored there was no real launching and trailering to be done. Geoff just manoeuvred the 800 out and back into her mooring with ease. However, I have seen 800s being launched off the beach at Sodwana Bay on a regular basis. Most of the time the owners have serious 4x4s or tractors for towing, as well as reversible trailers for forward launching, and this obviously makes life much easier for the beach launches.

As previously mentioned I had the benefit of testing the Cobra Cat 800 with 150hp and 200hp Optimax Mercury motors. The 150s were sufficient for surf launching and were well matched for the 800, but personally I think the 200s are a much better match. The extra 100hp just gives you the extra edge for launching and maintaining better speeds at lower revs.

The craft had a hydraulic steering system and comfortably positioned binnacle-mount control boxes.

Firstly, my personal opinion of T-tops and fly-bridges is that they definitely do affect the ride of any sized boat in a variety of ways. This test was on the standard 800 without fly-bridge and T-top, and if you want to find out that difference, compare this test to the original test which appears on the SKI-BOAT magazine website 

The 200hp Optimax motors really gave the edge on the power side. Out of the hole there was a remarkable difference in acceleration; getting up onto the plane was far quicker, and when full locking into turns, cavitation was low. For her size, the Cobra Cat 800 has quite a tight turning circle which is important for surf launching on our coastline. 

To start we headed into the northeaster which, by then, had created one serious mess of the ocean. Lucky for me I had a comfortable cabin to hide and drive in. In these conditions I could maintain a constant speed of between 12 and 16 knots at relatively low revs. Considering how wild the ocean was, I thought this was a good average speed while still maintaining a comfortable and stable ride. 

Running the 800 side-on and with the swell and chop, I was able to increase the speed to 18-25 knots and still maintain a comfortable, stable ride. As with most boats, you need to change the trim settings to suit the conditions, and my preference on the 800 was to lift the bow a fair amount to get the most comfort ride out of her. 

Coming off the throttles I settled her into a series of high and low troll speeds. Heading directly into, side-on and with the rough seas, the 800 maintained good comfort and handling all round. Then again, when you have the luxury of a decent cabin to hide in, noticing deteriorating conditions could be difficult. 

On the drift there was no major roll to complain about considering the conditions. 

The last test for me was simulating backing up, and even in the torrid conditions I found manoeuvrability to be relatively simple, once you got the hang of using the power accordingly.

Obviously there was no need to change the layout of the 800, with everything being the same as before, except for Geoff’s personal choice of additions which included the outriggers, marlin chair and electrics to suit big gamefishing. Aside from that, the 800 comes standard with everything any sportfishing craft of this size may need . She has a comfortable cabin area for the skipper and crew, a step down fore-cabin where there is a flush toilet and bed/seating area, and plenty of hatch/stowage space. Indeed, everything you need to make a day at sea very comfortable.

The Cobra Cat 800 has been built with a particular purpose in mind — to be a well-suited sportfishing boat for South African waters. For her size, I found handling the 800 at different troll speeds fairly simple. As the skipper you have the comfort of the cabin to operate in with maximum protection from the sun and water, while the crew have a wide-open space to work in when fishing. 

A craft like the Cobra Cat 800 will give you more time on the water due to her level of comfort and her handling capabilities. 

Cobra Cats of all sizes are a common sight throughout the country. The Cobra Cat 800 is yet another one of their fleet that has stylish finishes to complement her look and ride. 

Once you’ve been on a craft of this type and size, it’s really difficult to get back onto the smaller boats. You really do get spoilt. 

If you are tired of being battered around on a small boat in rough seas and are looking to upgrade yourself and family to more comfortable levels, then the Cobra Cat 800 should definitely be on your test list.

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