A gladiator returns to the sportfish arena. Meet the new Cabo 41.

Cabo 41

Stoked by the forces of consumer research, market share analysis, dealer input and a near-universal appeal, Cabo is back.

Cabo Yachts 41

Cabo Yachts 41

Nostalgia is a funny thing. When we think of the past, usually it’s rendered in a rosy tint too illustrious to ever have been true. And yet we pine, and reminisce, and stare into the prop wash. We imagine an impossibly large fish that got away, or that unblemished little boat we had to sell. Like such cherished memories, the return of Cabo Yachts owes a debt to nostalgia. Stoked by the forces of consumer research, market share analysis and dealer input, the new 41, which debuted early this year, is the builder’s first new model in over six years.

In reviving the ineffectual brand, Hatteras Yachts is betting on familiarity and brand loyalty. When the company bought Cabo in 2006, they did so with the goal of continuing the populist appeal and legacy of the California-based builder famous for its line of express-style sportfishermen in the 36- to 52-foot range. And they did, for a time. But after production was moved to New Bern, North Carolina (where then-Brunswick-owned Hatteras Yachts was located), it didn’t take long for it to grind to a halt thanks to the recession and a prioritizing the introduction of new Hatteras models.

Pre-recession, most anglers can remember being impressed after owning or seeing a Cabo in action when the brand was white hot, throughout the late ‘90s and early aughts. After its lengthy hiatus, Hatteras conducted discussions with Cabo customers and dealers. They were surprised by what they learned: all these years later, the brand ranked second overall in brand reputation, quality and construction when compared to the competition. In 2017, such feedback led Hatteras Yachts CEO Kelly Grindle to announce “the market conditions are right to bring back the proven Cabo line of hardcore fishing boats.” Shortly thereafter, the design process on the 41 began.

The 41 has been built with the Cabo 40 of old in mind, and the Michael Peters deep-V offshore hull harkens back while also looking forward. Feedback from focus groups centered on wanting a small inboard diesel sportfish with the same dry ride and amenities of a much bigger boat: i.e., air-conditioning, a galley, a large stateroom and full-size head. The lower arrangement layout, helm deck and cockpit were also tweaked, with slight improvements to the riding surface. What has been retained is the small but mighty bluewater ethos and a lift-up helm deck that provides access to the engines: twin 626-hp Volvo Penta D11s that come standard, with upgrades for 670-hp and 725-hp engines, as well as various horsepower options with Cummins QSM11s. The design also includes room for a Seakeeper 6, full custom tower and outriggers.

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“The Cabo buyer is someone that wants an overall better fishing experience, but still maintains the versatility and flexibility to take family out in for the day in comfort,” said Hatteras Director of Marketing Joe Cacopardo. “And unlike many competitors in this size range, the salon, galley and stateroom offer more comfort and the cockpit arrangement is well-suited for big game fishing.”

When I first came across Hull No. 1 at the Miami boat show, she had been cruised south by Capt. Scott Nault, an independent captain out of Florida. I asked Nault to describe what the ride had been like. He told me that during the first leg, from Beaufort, North Carolina to Charleston he “was trying to vary the rpm because the engines were so new. So I’d open it up for a little bit and saw 37 knots and some change. Then we’d alter our rpm again.” In other words, the perfect conditions for a sea trial. According to Nault, the ocean was flat; 2200 rpm was close to wide open, and gave them a 33-knot cruise, burning around 55 gph. The second leg from Charleston to St. Augustine, Florida was rougher, with some occasional 8-footers thrown in. “We had to slow down significantly. I brought her back down to 27 knots and she continued to run phenomenal, very dry and solid boat.”

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Also overseeing the 41 was Hatteras Yachts’ Director of Sportfishing Capt. Jeff Donahue. When I asked him about the 41, and how it fit into Hatteras’ stable of sportfishing boats, he gestured over to where she was tied up in an attention-grabbing slip. “That’s a boat that was designed and built for a good purpose,” said Donahue.

He waved off a question about what the next size in the lineup will be. “I don’t like nostalgia unless it’s mine,” said Donahue. Actually, I lied. He didn’t say that—that was Lou Reed. But Donahue’s answer might as well have been the same. “We’ll see what comes after that,” he said, hinting at the future, which, of course, might be found somewhere in the past.

Cabo 41 Specifications:

LOA: 42'10"
Beam: 15'9"
Draft: 3'5"
Displ. (light): 31,000 lbs.
Fuel: 550 gal.
Water: 95 gal.
Standard Power: 2/625-hp Volvo Penta D11s
Price: Upon Request

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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