Keep an eye on Commander Boats
because Sy Singhal, owner of the Perris, Calif. Company has big ambitions.
Singhal and his crew believe they can compete with any boat builder in the
West Coast custom market, and that kind of drive and ambition can lead to
To prove it, they sent their 2800 Cat with supercharges 800-hp engine from
Teague Custom Marine to our Performance Trials in Parker, Ariz. And though
the folks at Commander always will have their work cut out for them in the
ultra-competitive West Coast market, their easy-to-drive, well-built 28’
catamaran proved they’re not suffering from delusions of grandeur.
Introduced in 1998, the 2800 Cat rides on a modified tunnel hull with a
notched center pod and inline strakes in its two sponsons. Commander
outfitted the boat with the previously notes, 509-cubic-inch blown motor
and a TCM Platinum XR drive with a 1.5:1 gear reduction. It’s worth
nothing that the TCM engine-and-drive combo was responsible for $47,000 of
the catamaran’s $120,900 asking price.
The propulsion setup, which included a lab-finished Mercury Bravo One 15
¼” x 32” four-blade stainless-steel propeller, pushed the boat to a top
speed of 101.1 mph. that made the 2800 Cat the fastest Commander we’ve
It also was, far and way, the quickest. With its Dana LT-500 Trim tabs
down, it came on plane in 4.8 seconds, and in 20 seconds it reached 78
mph. (With the tabs down, the cat also stayed in plane at a lower speed
than it did with them in neutral or up.) delivering knockout punches in
midrange acceleration test, the boat darted from 30 to 50 mph in 3.6
seconds, 20 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and 40 to 70 in 7.1 seconds.
Before our tests, Singhal told us the 2800 Cat was easy to drive, “even
for beginners.” He wasn’t exaggerating, although any boat with 800 hp
should be approached with serious respect by all drivers, regardless of
experience. The catamaran, which was equipped with fully hydraulic
steering from IMCO, leaned into turns and exhibited no slop throughout
them, and it didn’t bite or catch on exit. Its handling manners were
genteel and forgiving.
“This boat never hops or skips, and it really is easy to drive,” said our
lead test driver. “It goes through bumps pretty well, too. We went across
a few boat wakes at 85 mph and it didn’t even bobble.”
Handlaid with multiple layers of quad-directional fiberglass and
vinylester resin, and cored with balsa, the 2800 Cat exhibited strong mold
work and the best in-gelcoat graphics we’ve seen from Commander. Colors
were vibrant and the delineation between them, except in the case if
intentional fades, was sharp. The boat’s black plastic rubrail with a
rubber insert was carefully installed and appeared up to the job of
A Dana step plate in the nose was a functional not to the time-honored
Colorado River custom of bow-in beaching. In a nod to the equally classic
river custom know as floating, where drivers shut down their motors and
simply drift with the current for hours, the port-side integrated swim
platform was equipped with a ladder. The catamaran also had more standard
hardware fare including stainless-steel handrails and Accon Pop-Up cleats.
Like the handrails, the cleats were mounted to in powder-painted bezels.
Hydraulic hinges from Dana raises the engine hatch. The big-block power
plant was held snugly in place with L-angles through-bolted to the
stringers. Diamond plate was installed in each side of the engine and
access to minor services was excellent. Rigging, which included perfectly
supported parallel wire looms, was top-shelf.
The seating layout for 2800 Cat consisted of a three-person bench seat and
two bucket seats with removable bottom cushions in the cockpit, and two
forward-facing lounges in the open bow. Welted snap-in carpet covered the
Under the bottom cushions for the bench, which were held in place by nylon
hook-and-loop fasteners, there was a carpeted stowage compartment. Gunwale
tray, too, in the cockpit were carpeted, and the trays were impressively
deep and wide. A lid in the sole revealed a draining cooler. Still another
stowage compartment, the largest one in the boat, was behind a vinyl snap
drape under the co-pilot’s console to port.
Relatively well supplied with amenities, the co-pilot’s station featured a
contoured grab handle, two recessed cup holders and a map pocket in the
port gunwale, all within easy reach from the bucket seat. A Pioneer CD
stereo was mounted in the dash.
None of the Gaffrig by Livorsi gauges, including a GPS speedometer with a
tattletale function, was obscured by the non-tilting steering wheel.
Lighting when activated, accessory switches were to the right of the
wheel. Farther to the right on the starboard gunwale were a Gaffrig
shifter and throttle, as well as mechanical indicators for the tabs and
Additional access to the locker in the co-pilot’s console was provided by
a snap drape in the walk-through to the open bow. Although the bow playpen
was relatively compact, the builder did a good job of providing depth for
the lounges, as well as the sole. Bottom cushions for the lounges were
removable for access to stowage areas. Also worth noting in the bow was
the thick padding on the gunwales.
Talk with Singhal for a few minutes and you’ll know he believes deeply in
his company. Though he respects the competition, he’s confident in his own
products. The foundation for that confidence can be found in the 2800 Cat,
the strongest offering we’ve seen from Commander.