What's that? A boat, a helicopter, some type of seaplane? It's the Helicat 22. This unique watercraft won't take off into the air, but it uses a helicopter-influenced catamaran design for a fast, stable ride over choppy water.
When we first saw the Helicat, we wondered aloud: "Why would anybody put a helicopter-styled body on a boat, outside of trying to get attention?".
The answer is really that obvious. Washington-based Helicat LLC tells us that the idea behind the boat is combining the fast, stable, lightweight properties of catamaran hulls with the eye-catching heli design. The manufacturer also claims that the boat is particularly good for rough water, with the enclosed cockpit providing the advantage of not collecting water like a traditional catamaran.
The Helicat 22 is equipped with a dual-engine powertrain, and buyers can choose between dual 60-hp and 90-hp engines. The 90-hp engines power a top speed of 43 mph (69 km/h), and the Helicat is made to shine in rough water, shooting through whitecap waves at up to 30 mph (48 km/h).
The Helicat measures just under its 22-ft namesake at 21.5 ft (6.5 m). At 3,300 lb (1,500 kg) with trailer and fuel, it's designed to be towed by mid-sized cars and SUVs. It's built at Helicat's shop from components made at local Pacific Northwest outfits, including fiberglass from Sunbacker. The cabs shown in Helicat photos have tandem or 1+2 seating, but the boat can be designed for up to seven people. Optional vinyl side doors keep occupants from getting wet, and the boat can also be driven without them for "open air feel and thrill like a motorcycle."
The tail on the back of the Helicat 22 is more than just a nod to the vessel's helicopter influence; it serves as a wakeboard/waterski tower. Helicat even mentions trying "extreme wake boarding" by leveraging the craft's superior rough-water speed to ride through waves. Helicat imagines the boat being used as a fishing boat with available swivel seats, a water taxi/tour boat, an offshore scuba platform and more.
The Helicat 22 hit the market last year. The usual base price with 60-hp Mercury engines and trailer is US$74,900, but Helicat is also advertising a demo unit for $64,900 and a prototype for $29,900. Shipping costs about $5,000 in the US and $6,000 in other parts of the world. The boat has been making appearances at major US boat shows since last year.
Those that aren't enthusiastic about the helicopter design have another option. Helicat says that its craft is a modular platform that could be used to plant an actual sports coupe or convertible body on top. So you could take your old Corvette onto the water, on purpose, without a full-blown amphibious conversion.
The 30 mph quote may not sound especially fast on paper, but when you see the Helicat bouncing like a skipped stone off of choppy water, it certainly looks like a thrill. Have a look in the video below.