BOAT REVIEW Takacat Predator T640P

May 2022 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim, photography and video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Takacat Predator T640P
DESIGNER Stingray Marine
BUILDER Stingray Marine
CONSTRUCTION Solid GRP hull, Hypalon tubes
LOA 6.4M
BEAM 2.56M
ENGINE 2 x Suzuki 60hp four-stroke O/B
Weight on Trailer 750 kg
Max Horsepower 180hp
Passenger Capacity 12 people
  • Stable, rugged and seaworthy stepped-tunnel hull design
  • Lots of deck space for a RIB
  • Performs well with modest horsepower
  • Practical and fu

Takacat started in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore in 2007 supplying a range of inflatable catamaran dinghy-tenders that have since enjoyed international success. Under new management these days, Takacat is expanding into larger vessels, of which the Takacat Predator T640P is the largest to reach these shores so far.

Manufactured in South Africa for Takacat by Stingray Marine, the Predator T640P is a catamaran RIB with a rugged GRP hull and good quality Hypalon tubes. It’s a narrow, stepped-tunnel design with large volume wrap-around tubes divided into six separate compartments for safety.


Catamaran RIBs are not exactly a dime a dozen in New Zealand, so the Predator attracts quite a bit of attention on and off the water, as we found out when members of the Police Maritime Unit stopped by the boat ramp to give the RIBs a thorough once-over.
Ironically Stingray is an important vessel supplier for police, military and rescue services in South Africa, which is reflected by the Predator T640P’s heavy-duty construction and plain but serviceable layout.
Takacat brought along two nearly identical boats. The main subject of this review had an upgraded steering wheel, sheet foam decking and a Lowrance Elite 7-inch display (with a Cobra VHF and Fusion stereo to come). Both had nav lights, 6kg anchors and warp, lightweight folding canvas bimini tops and powder-coated transom arches with radically angled rocket launchers, but the second boat was otherwise a base model ready to be accessorised.

As Takacat directors Paul Powney (NZ) and Anna Leech (Aus and Asia) pointed out, these boats were deliberately pitched at attractive price points – Takacat offer Predators in a range of colours, layouts, engine and equipment options, including different seating and console arrangements. The Predator range also includes smaller 460E and 540P models, as well as the larger T750P.
“The new range of Predator hulls fit the Takacat ethos of stability and efficiency and offers a natural progression for existing Takacat customers who wish to transition into a larger boat,” said Leech.
The review boats were rigged at the factory in South Africa. With the engines in the fully up position, the steering control arm in both boats was in contact with the transom, which is not ideal. Subsequent boats will be rigged in New Zealand by Brett’s Marine on Auckland’s North Shore, depending on the engine choice. Takacat also fit the electronics and accessories here according to what the customer wants.

The Predator T640P is carried on a single-axle custom-built Hosking trailer. With the tubes fully inflated, it’s a wide boat on the trailer, and with seemingly acres of deck space and large diameter tubes, it looks a much bigger than its 6.4m length would suggest. Nonetheless, it weighs a modest 750kg on the trailer, so it’s easy enough to tow.
Apart from its size, the feature people most commented upon was the fore and aft side-seats, one each side of the boat, with a reversible backrest allowing passengers to sit facing inwards or outwards. Each seat easily accommodates three adults while the narrow helm console’s motorcycle-style straddle seat fits another two, one behind the other. The boat is factory rated for up to 12 passengers.
The seating layout was chosen to leave plenty of clear deck space down the vessel’s centreline, for easy access to the low transom – great for scuba diving or commercial applications such as ferrying resort guests. Engine cabling, hydraulic and fuel lines restrict transom access somewhat; a full-width transom locker would tidy things up, says Powney, though transom access would be more difficult.

The seating can be arranged in more conventional fore and aft rows, and as noted, several different console and helm seat options are available, as is a hardtop bimini. Fuel is carried in tote tanks inside the seat bins, which are big enough for two 26-litre tote tanks per side (or one tank plus dry storage). The fuel filter sight glasses are bolted to the outside of the seat bases aft, but Takacat is considering fixing them to the inside of the bin to help tidy up the transom area.
There’s additional storage under the straddle seat and in the moulded anchor locker/bow step, which is large enough for the stainless-steel anchor, chain and 100m of rode, with room left over.
The 640P’s deck is self-draining via ball scuppers, which is a good thing because backing up slops a bit of water over the transom. The teak-look PVC foam flooring was soft and secure underfoot; the other boat’s deck was plain moulded fibreglass.
One of the Predator T640P’s strengths is the amount of deck space it offers, which is particularly noticeable with this side-seat configuration. It’s a beamy boat anyway, but the tubes are mostly outboard, so they hardly encroach on the boat’s interior. They’re also comfortable to sit on and offer the usual ropes around the perimeter to hold onto, plus three moulded plastic handles per side. There’s a thick plastic pad with moulded grooves on the bow to protect the tube and guide the anchor warp, plus a moulded bollard with an integrated jam-cleat to secure the warp when the anchor’s deployed. Two more cleats can be found aft on the transom arch.

I was initially somewhat sceptical a pair of 60hp outboards would provide sufficient performance for such a big boat, but I was pleasantly surprised. The twin 60hp Suzukis are towards the lower end of the recommended power range, but they do a more than adequate job. The Predator T640P can accommodate twin outboards up to 90hp.
To be fair, we were only moderately loaded with three adults per boat and 50 litres of fuel, but the Predator cruised along at 4000rpm making a very comfortable 18 knots – 23 knots at 5000rpm. Once run in, a top speed approaching 30 knots should be achievable with these engines.

The vessel’s stepped-tunnel design has been perfected over 30 years of production. It’s clearly an efficient design that delivers speed and economy, along with an excellent ride. To quote the brochure: “At low speeds, the tunnel creates an air-cushion effect enabling the craft to rise quickly out of the water and to plane with ease. The twin hull construction increases stability and creates a more comfortable ride in choppy conditions.” All of which was borne out during our session with the boats in a building north-easterly.
The helm’s jetski-like seat is surprisingly comfortable and very secure in tight turns. All round vision from the helm is excellent. The low, narrow console with its minimal windscreen doesn’t provide a lot of protection from the slipstream, but the powder-coated wrap-around grab rail is useful. There’s enough dash space for basic engine gauges – analogue in this case – a few switches and a bracket-mounted MFD. Steering is hydraulic.
Throttle and shift controls are bolted to the starboard side of the console, arranged back-to-back. The controls are cable-operated with individual trim controls for each motor and no sychronisation of either engine rpm or trim settings, which must be adjusted manually. It’s a basic set-up but works just fine.

Although this is a catamaran, unlike most, it doesn’t lean outwards in turns. It doesn’t really heel inwards like a monohull either but instead turns very flat, which is when the straddle seat comes in handy: just brace your legs and grip with your thighs to combat the g-forces. With similar narrow tunnels, smaller Predators can be rigged with single outboards, which is unusual for catamaran designs.
The Predator T640P travels very comfortably, the hull smoothing out the chop and generally delivering a dry ride. Apparently, it is possible to break out the props if you turn the boat tightly enough, but I couldn’t make it happen – the Predator went where it was pointed and maintained engine revolutions in the sharpest of turns.

The sea built quite a bit while we were conducting our review, but the Predator seemed to come alive in the chop. I got the impression it would handle much rougher conditions with aplomb.
The Takacat Predator T640P RIB’s biggest strength is its capable, stable and rugged stepped-tunnel catamaran hull. As presented here with a few equipment upgrades, this RIB – while still a basic package – seems to offer fair value, especially in terms of performance and handling. The review boat’s layout is perhaps better suited to commercial or dive tender applications, but as Paul and Anna explained, depending on their budget, customers can pick and mix console and seating layouts, engines, equipment specification and colours across the range.

The smaller Takacat Predators are probably a better fit for recreational users, but don’t discount the fun factor and practicality of the bigger T640P. And adding horsepower would only ratchet up the fun.