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Helicopter-inspired catamaran "flies" over rough water


April 11, 2014

The Helicat 22 "takes off"

The Helicat 22 "takes off"

Image Gallery (12 images)

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.

Source: Helicat

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

So the whole "helicopter" thing is an irrelevant stylistic gimmick...

Keith Reeder

A gimmick indeed. And a dangerous one too if anyone tried using it to tow a skier or boarder without a rear-facing observer.

Oh yes - it looks plain silly too!


With a footprint that big I would expect to be able to do a lot more than take two passengers with me. Though, with that 1 + 2 seating arrangement, a man could take both his wife and his mistress out with him and get nagged at in each ear.

If they had put an autogiro rotor-blade set up on top and developed a way of keeping the craft only high enough to clear the waves without letting the props leave the water, they might have had something interesting. But there again, one could get the same pleasure from a ground effect craft.

Mel Tisdale

At the risk of repeating myself here from previous, similar postings about watercraft like those: Yet another one of those "gadgets" that help to have noise at even the remotest of locations, one cannot go to any lake or sea shore any more without multiple of those things making noise and disturbing the serenity. Everything sacrificed for a few jobs, every week almost another announcement of one of those things, not only the ever-present noise but it's getting more and more dangerous to just go into the water for a swim... I'd much rather not have those things everywhere, always.


Not impressed. Want to avoid wave action, use foils d'-)


I like the pontoon ride. The rest is just stupid! I'm am sorry I wasted 3 minutes on this gimmick design.


A good friend of mine forwarded this article to me today... What no one has pointed out yet is that this design is a rip from the now defunct KKG (Katamaran Konstruction Group) of Vienna Austria... the original design was thought up and built by Dr. Mai's group- sadly both my friend and I worked on this project- he as a designer and myself as project manager- before leaving the company we were able to get hull # 1 in the water... Dr. Mai continued on with the project and I heard he was able to sell 25 units thru Dubai before he fell off the face of the earth... KKG's design was much more ergonomic and fluid than this rip and carried a wider beam but in the end- just another water toy... go to you tube and search kkg nano speed needle

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