Fast to the Fish Lanier Custom Boats combines a race-proven catamaran hull with Mercury Racing power.
The story goes that Errol Lanier, a legendary championship offshore throttleman, walked away from his first ride in a high-performance bass boat convinced that there was a better way to go fast and catch fish.
“I’ve been told that Errol cut that ride short,” said his grandson, Jake Lanier. “The idea of running that fast on just a few inches of pad and the prop felt way too risky. He understood that running a bass boat safely at very high speed required too much skill for the average owner, especially in rough water.”
Lanier retired from active racing in 1999, ending a career that included significant race wins and multiple championships with the likes of Preston Henn, Bernie Little, Rocky Aoki, and Bob Kaiser. Lanier and Kaiser raced the iconic black #7 Cougar Cat ACR Systems to the 1987 US-1 National Championships.
From his years racing offshore catamaran boats, Errol Lanier thought a better bass boat could be created by combining a fishing deck over a compact cat hull that would provide the stability of two points of contact with the water. Working with Clive Curtis, Lanier adapted the 38-foot Cougar Powerboats catamaran hull designed by Curtis and James Beard in the late 1970s to a small modern fishing platform that performed as well as a race boat at high speed in rough water and in tight turns. With a length of 20 feet 3 inches, the new boat could fit in an average garage and be rigged with unlimited outboard horsepower.
With partner Jerry Kilpatrick, Lanier founded Fast Cat in 1999 to build these custom boats. When Kilpartick left the partnership the company was re-named Lanier Custom Boats (LCB), and in 2008 Errol Lanier sold the company to his son, Troy, the current owner and uncle of Jake Lanier, who handles marketing for LCB. Since its founding LCB has sold about 150 boats, according to Jake Lanier, with either a sport deck or a fishing deck. Construction has evolved from hand-laid fiberglass to the company’s latest creation with an all-carbon fiber/epoxy hull.
Errol Lanier was most-often associated with Mercury Marine power in his racing days, and LCB has relied on Mercury Racing outboards from the beginning.
“To be legal for most bass tournaments we could not rig more than 250 horsepower, so we have built a lot of boats with the Mercury Racing 250XS and with the Pro Max 300X two-strokes,” said Jake Lanier. “Now we are rigging both the new Mercury Racing 300R and 450R motors, and these new 4.6-liter V8 motors are perfect for our hull. This hull really likes power with displacement, and the mid-range punch of the V8 motors really pushes this boat along. We are also seeing a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency, which is a game-changer in a cat limited to 75 gallons of capacity. Even fully rigged for fishing, a 450R will take an LCB over 100 mph.”
From its shop in Sebring, Fla., LCB builds only to order for direct-to-customer delivery, and that order can include just about any reasonable request, including complete angling gear from electric positioning motor to pole-type shallow-water anchors.
“Our special sauce is the time and care we put into building each boat,” said Jake Lanier. “We have the customer’s needs and desires in mind at all times when rigging.”
The first LCB with a carbon hull will also feature a new hybrid angling deck with the center helm moved forward to improve aerodynamics and to create room for a bench seat behind the helm, a design that combines the speed of a pleasure boat with the storage convenience of a fishing boat, according to Jake Lanier. LCB is planning to dial in the new boat soon at the Mercury Lake X test facility, where it will have access to Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver props for the Mercury Racing 450R outboard.