EXPERIENCE AN OCEAN EXPRESS CATAMARAN AND MAKE BOATING GREAT AGAIN! Published in Great Lakes Scuttlebutt, May/June 2017
IN THE BEGINNING, Ross Focht helped a friend find a used 27' "go fast boat" called Super Banana he rigged for racing. But, after this modest entry in powerboat racing, decided they needed a bigger, better, faster boat. Ross knew they could only afford the boat they needed if he designed and built it himself.
That was the first boat Ross Focht built; a deep-V hull in 1975 called Active8Er. It lacked nothing! Ross laughs, "The only way you could have put more money into Active8Er would be to tape it to the deck!
They raced Active8Er for two years and earned a reputation as one of the boats to beat. However, Team KAAMA, a National Champion from California, entered the 1979 Spirit of Detroit Race on the Detroit River. KAAMA was highly respected and well known throughout the powerboat community. Ross expected KAAMA to bring their championship V-hull for the race, instead they brought a new, strange looking wooden boat built by the English company Cougar. When Ross saw that boat he laughed. Remember, back then hi-performance offshore race boats were fiberglass deep V-hulls. Nobody built hi-performance race boats out of wood anymore.
Something else was strange about Cougar's boat; it was a catamaran. Nobody in Michigan had ever seen such a strange boat. It was huge and looked like it couldn't make it to the starting line. However, KAAMA smoked everyone on the water, including Active8Er! Ross remembers, "I had Active8Er running strong at full throttle. Behind me I could see a distant rooster tail approaching. Next thing I knew, this huge wooden catamaran flew by! I could not believe my eyes!"
That day Ross made himself two promises: first, he would never build another V-hull; second, he needed to build a composite catamaran!
In Europe, Cougar was known for building fast wooden catamarans. Ross saw firsthand just how fast a catamaran could run, but the wooden catamarans had a reputation for coming apart in heavy seas. Ross was innovative; using materials and methods never before used in the construction of power catamarans. The result was the first catamaran ever built using composite material technology.
The first composite catamaran Ross built was a 33'. It was light, strong, and fast! When Butch Ryan, a Michigan racing enthusiast, had great success racing with his 33' in regional competition, Ross went to work and created a sleek new 37' cat that could win World Championships. He called it EXPRESS.
In 1982 they took EXPRESS to the Powerboat Championship Race in Key West. With Butch Ryan at the throttle and Larry Focht at the wheel, EXPRESS won the World Championship running the fastest race ever in Sport Class and setting the World Kilo Speed Record for the fastest run at 114! EXPRESS then went on to win the APBA High Point Championship for that year. With this new 37' EXPRESS, Butch Ryan entered the top ranks of the elite National Powerboat Circuit.
Other teams described Ross' cats as "hard to catch and tough to beat". When Baja Boats wanted to introduce a new high performance catamaran, Ross created a 33' Sport Cat called Baja N-Forcer sold by Baja dealers throughout the United States.
Ross' client list from the 80's looks like a "who's who" list of elite Powerboat Racing Teams including Bud Light, Benihana, Miss Gallo Wine, Team Chrysler, Wolverine, Frostway Express, and many others. Their catamarans were designed and built by Ross Focht, Founder of Ocean Express Powerboats. Enthusiasts of powerboat racing still remember the excitement they created setting speed records and winning World Championships. These Cats are more than a mere footnote in the Golden Era of Offshore Powerboat Racing. They are the story about a man who followed his passion and, now 40 years later, continues with that same passion to build strong, fast, center console World Class catamarans.
A lot has happened since Super Banana. Ross Focht, Founder of Ocean Express Powerboats, has built a strong reputation for building World Class catamarans for fishing, sport, and poker runs. Every Cat he builds displays his World Championship Design logo!
Ocean Express 32 CCFS - Ocean Express Introduces First of a New Line of Hybrid Performance/Sport Fishing Catamarans
Algonac, MI, July 21, 2007
Ocean Express Powerboats, Inc. has introduced the first of a new series of hybrid performance/sport fishing catamarans! A 32' tournament custom Center Console/Forward Seating sport fisherman designated as their 32' CCFS. Utilizing advanced technology materials and competition-proven design features, the 32' CCFS delivers an unprecedented combination of performance along with outstanding fuel economy, stability, comfort, and 20" shallow water capabilities.
Using a pair of 300HP Suzuki 4-cycle outboards and carrying two passengers, the 32' CCFS offers a range of 650 to 800 miles at a conservative cruising speed from its 300 gallon fuel supply boasting 2 1/2 - 3 MPG. This performance is accomplished by using a variety of well-proven racing technologies including strong lightweight structural composites, multiple stepped hulls, and surface piercing propellers.
Designed by noted racing catamaran developer and offshore racing champion Ross Edward Focht, the OE 32 CCFS is the result of more than 30 years of experience specializing in custom built, multiple step, high speed, composite catamarans that feature world class engineering, extreme fuel efficiency, low wake, excellent sea-keeping ability, and easy maintenance. Yet, even though the OE 32 CCFS is a custom boat, it is competitvely priced against the offerings of larger companies producing standard products.
"Through careful design and the use of high-tech materials including premium resins and fabrics, we are able to reduce hull weight by 20-30% compared to conventional boats, while delivering equal or better panel strength," Focht explained. "Combine that with our efficient and highly evolved catamaran hulls and you get a boat that will run at higher speeds with less fuel and also pound less in heavy seas for a smoother ride with less wear and tear on both the boat and the crew. It's a win-win all the way around."
Although the OE 32 CCFS uses race-developed performance technology, it is designed to meet the needs of serious fishermen. Seating up to 14 passengers with the forward seating and optional rear jumpseats, the OE 32 CCFS offers one 50-gallon and two 16-gallon live wells; four in-floor storage boxes for fish/ice/etc.; four gunnel-wall rod lockers; and two large, watertight storage areas in each sponson.
The center console incorporates an enclosed marine head with vanity and mirror, and has sufficient space in the cockpit area for two 10-inch display screens for optional navigation electronics and/or fish-finders. The cockpit is also self-bailing, and is covered by a "Monster" T-Top measuring approximately 9'6" x 7'.
Other Specifications Include:
- Hi-tech, 24 step sponsons utilizing double bias materials, special blend resin and core construction (Offshore lay-up).
- Inside of both sponsons finished and fully gel-coated in chemical resistant epoxy.
- Hull and Deck - double laminate utilizing double bias unidirectional materials.
- Offshore rigging throughout.
- Dual bilge pumps - 1,100 GPH automatics.
- Stainless steel deck hardware.
- Six flush mount stainless steel pull-up cleats.
- Twin 300 hp 4-liter Suzuki outboards with 25" shafts, right and left rotation
- Custom lower units with bottom water pick-ups allowing surface piercing application and proper water pressure.
- Offshore hydraulic steering system.
- Heavy duty stainless steel tie bar (dual engine application) or hydraulic tie bar.
- Wash down system (optional).
- Custom 4-blade stainless steel wheels, right and left.
- Power assist hydraulic steering (optional).
The OE 32 CCFS is the first of a new series of hybrid performance/sport boats scheduled for introduction in 2007/2008 by Ocean Express Powerboats. The innovative designs of these new catamarans incorporate the lessons of more than three decades of custom performance catamaran design and engineering by Ross Edward Focht. They continue the tradition of high quality, high technology composite catamarans that have set standards throughout the world and driven the Ocean Express Team to produce ever faster, stronger, and more efficient boats.