CACTUS, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, is an open-source code for the design and analysis of wind and hydrokinetic turbines. While it has undergone extensive validation for both vertical axis and horizontal axis wind turbines, and it has been demonstrated to accurately predict the performance of horizontal (axial-flow) hydrokinetic turbines, its ability to predict the performance of crossflow hydrokinetic turbines has yet to be tested. The present study addresses this problem by comparing the predicted performance curves derived from CACTUS simulations of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 1:6 scale reference model crossflow turbine to those derived by experimental measurements in a tow tank using the same model turbine at the University of New Hampshire. It shows that CACTUS cannot accurately predict the performance of this crossflow turbine, raising concerns on its application to crossflow hydrokinetic turbines generally. The lack of quality data on NACA 0021 foil aerodynamic (hydrodynamic) characteristics over the wide range of angles of attack (AoA) and Reynolds numbers is identified as the main cause for poor model prediction. A comparison of several different NACA 0021 foil data sources, derived using both physical and numerical modeling experiments, indicates significant discrepancies at the high AoA experienced by foils on crossflow turbines. Users of CACTUS for crossflow hydrokinetic turbines are, therefore, advised to limit its application to higher tip speed ratios (lower AoA), and to carefully verify the reliability and accuracy of their foil data. Accurate empirical data on the aerodynamic characteristics of the foil is the greatest limitation to predicting performance for crossflow turbines with semi-empirical models like CACTUS. Future improvements of CACTUS for crossflow turbine performance prediction will require the development of accurate foil aerodynamic characteristic data sets within the appropriate ranges of Reynolds numbers and AoA.