Custom powerboats are designed to suit your desires. But what do you desire? A relaxing day out on the water to your favorite fishing getaway? Some much-needed alone time away from work, family, and the stressors of modern life? How about a wave shredding powerboat that lets you race across the water?
Yes, one of the most exciting parts of owning a custom powerboat is opening up the throttle to see what kind of damage you can do. Whether you’re looking for a boat that can smoke everyone else’s on the lake or a serious vessel for high-speed runs (or the ever-popular Poker Runs!) here’s a review of custom powerboat options.
Start With Hull Design
A good starting point for custom powerboat selection is taking stock of boat design features. Let’s begin with one of the biggest: the hull.
You’ll have plenty of powerboat hull options to choose from, each of which has different applications on the water. Pontoon hulls, round bottom hulls, and displacement hulls are typically found on cruising-oriented vessels, such as sailboats or center consoles. These hulls create lift and flotation for smoother, more comfortable rides.
But to hit those high speeds, you’ll want something different: a planing hull, or “V-shaped” hull. This is a common hull choice for powerboats, designed to glide smoothly on the water’s surface as your custom powerboat picks up speed. Many smaller, speedier boats will have variations on this type of hull, including runabout hulls and hydroplane hulls – both designed to rise up and skim the surface as your speed increases.
While round bottom hulls are versatile, you won’t get much mileage out of them for high-speed events. Stick with the V-shaped hulls and even consider investing in a runabout design that sacrifices luxury for agility.
When it comes to speed, it’s all about horsepower. But obviously, you can’t simply go out and pick the biggest behemoth that fits in your budget. Your engine needs to be aligned with your custom powerboat’s size and style, as well as your own experience level.
To begin, note that there are three primary types of engine designs for custom powerboats: outboard, inboard, and stern drive.
- Outboard engines are mounted on your boat’s transom and steered with a drive unit (either a hand tiller or wheel).
- Inboard engines are located within the hull and connected to a drivetrain system/propeller.
- Stern drive engines are a combination of the two, featuring an interior mount and a drive unit.
This is where things get tricky for high-speed applications. If you’re looking to race, you should know that boat races are typically split up into categories across boat types and engine styles. (Think Inboard, Stock Outboard, Modified Outboard, etc.) As such, you’ll need to consider what type of races you’ll be participating in before committing.
But if you’re simply looking for something high speed that lets you shred on the water, many engine styles can do the job. In this case, it’s better to find a style you’re comfortable with.
Now, in terms of raw horsepower, it’s worth noting that the sky’s the limit in terms of options. Engine horsepower ranges anywhere from 100hp to 1,000hp, 4,000hp, or even higher – not that you’d ever need such a monster. But high powered engines are out there, so it comes down to what type of experience you’re looking for. Keep these criteria in mind as you work through your options:
- Boat design/manufacturer capacity limits
- Horsepower-to-weight ratio
- Fuel efficiency
- Any passengers you may carry
Bear in mind that your engine should be run around the three-quarter throttle mark for optimal fuel efficiency and long-term performance. Though you might be tempted to overpower your boat (or conversely, underpower it for the sake of safety), running your throttle too low or too high will lead to sub-optimal fuel efficiency and potential maintenance issues down the line. Your boat vendor will go over these details with you.
Another important aspect to consider is your propeller. Aside from being the complement to your engine, propellers boost the efficiency of your travel by reducing underwater vibrations. Typically coming in 2-4 blade varieties, the biggest point to make re: propeller choice is to strike a balance between propeller thickness and horsepower. The thinner the propeller, the more efficient it is – but the more likely it is to crack under the excessive force of high horsepower engines.
Like the other boating elements, there’s a lot of science involved in selecting the perfect propeller for your needs, so your boat dealer will work with you to find a good option.
Keep Safety in Mind
High-speed boating applications can be dangerous, and as such, it pays to keep a few basic safety tips in mind. As noted above, you’re not doing yourself any favors by overpowering your vessel with a souped-up engine. Make sure your equipment choices synergize with one another to give you maximum performance without the risk.
Of course, some risk is inherent to any type of high-speed application, so make sure you’re properly geared up. Your boat may come with features such as emergency kill switches, which can be life-saving in a pinch. Bear in mind that you may need other safety gear as well, including helmets, neck restraints, and other tools (lights, life jackets, etc.) that should be on your boat anyway.
Finding a Custom Powerboat Suited to Your Speed
Let’s be clear – there’s a lot that goes into designing a custom powerboat for high-speed uses, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. That’s why we always recommend that boat buyers consult with an experienced dealer who can walk them through the details. This is the easiest way to find the right combination of equipment to meet your goals while ensuring that you get the high-octane performance you want for your time on the water.