If you have the need for speed, then you can’t beat the power of the “go-fast” boat. These high-performance vessels are the “race cars” of the oceans, allowing for incredibly high speeds on the water that are often triple the speed of the average speedboat with an outboard motor.
High-performance boats are available in many styles, from recreational models to professional racing boats. Getting out onto the open water and dropping the throttle to open the engines is a thrilling experience as they roar to life and surge the vessel forward.
Once you experience the adrenaline rush of speed, you’ll never go back – it’s a truly life-changing experience, and you’ll find it somewhat addicting to get out on the water with your new go-fast boat.
These models are ideal for taking distance trips between islands, cruising the coastline, or even entering professional or amateur racing competitions. With so many models, styles, engines, and accessories to choose from for your boat, you get a customizable setup that suits your needs.
This post unpacks everything you need to know about high-performance boats.
- What Is a High-Performance Boat?
- Engines for High-Performance Boats
- High-Performance Boat Lengths
- Benefits of High-Performance Boats
- Disadvantages of High-Performance Boats
- Top High-Performance Boat Brands and Models
- Wrapping Up
What Is a High-Performance Boat?
The high-performance boat model comes with several designs to suit your boating experience. When assessing high-performance models, you have two options for hulls.
The V-Bottom (Mono-Hull Design)
The first option is the deep V-hull. You’ll find these hulls on the fastest models, like “cigarette boats.” The deep single-hull allows for exceptional stability on the water at high speeds, ensuring you get a clean cut through the roughest waters without compromising the handling or maneuverability of the watercraft.
The Catamaran (Dual-Hull Design)
These boats have two hulls, similar to a pontoon boat but designed for performance. The double catamaran hull allows for exceptional stability at high speeds on the water, giving you more control and stability than the V-hull. It’s for this reason that professional racing watercraft use this hull configuration.
Center Consoles and Go-Fast Catamarans
The most popular version of the go-fast boat is the “center console” design. This driver configuration places the driver position in the center of the boat, with the seating being closer towards the aft of the watercraft.
You have options for open or closed cockpits, lounge chairs, and booster seats, and some models may feature a v-berth in the bow allowing for sleeping accommodations or a small seating arrangement. These boats feature single or twin motor setups capable of reaching speeds of 60 to 85-mph.
The catamaran go-fast models range in length from 28 to 52-feet, and the longer the boat, the better the performance and speed. Most models feature twin motor setups offering you up to 1,750-HP, with top speeds of up to 180-mph, thanks to the exceptional stability provided by the catamaran hull system.
Go-fast catamarans often include the use of carbon fiber materials around the boat, decreasing weight while increasing performance and handling. The material also adds exceptional strength and stability to the hulls, preventing hull distortion under high-speed conditions.
The sports catamaran is gaining in popularity in the recreational go-fast market. These models vary between 28 to 38-feet in length, with outboard motors capable of reaching up to 130-mph on open, calm waters.
Engines for High-Performance Boats
Most v-hull models feature inboard stern-drive engines, and there are a few models with outboards. All boats come with exceptionally high power outputs, with some models relying on twin, triple, or quad engine setups, depending on the length and weight of the boat.
High-Performance Boat Lengths
High-performance boats come in a range of sizes and power outputs to suit your activities on the water. Most models range between 20 to 50-feet in length. The longer the boat, the more stability it has on the water, giving you more control at high speed.
Since some of these models can reach speeds of up to 150-mph on flat calm waters, they need the length to ensure the boat doesn’t flip when it catches an updraft on the surface of the water.
Benefits of High-Performance Boats
High-performance boats offer you several advantages for sports recreational and professional racing. If you love going fast on the water or want to give it a try, these boats come with the following benefits for your boating experience.
Speed and Handling
Typically, any boat capable of speeds over 70-mph on the waterfall into the category of high-performance models. With the advances in engine technology over the last few decades, you have boats capable of hitting speeds of anywhere from 120 to 180-mph.
The handling of a high-performance boat isn’t as good as a cabin cruiser or bowrider. The long length gives you a wider turning circle that’s not ideal for watersports. The design of the high-performance boat means that it’s a “point-and-shoot” model designed for use in a straight line.
When you consider the high speeds involved in operating these watercraft, the go-fast will suit captains with boating experience under their belt.
If you’re planning on making a go-fast your first boat, make sure you take an instructional course to show you how to handle the power and performance of the vessel before taking to the water yourself.
The go-fast offers a powerful performance that’s ideal for cruising at high speeds. Hit the throttle and race between islands in the Caribbean, or take a day trip up the coastline.
The go-fast comes with performance engines designed for speed and power. They are like the Ferrari’s of the waterworld, offering exceptional performance that you can’t find with any other model. Sports catamaran models in 28 to 36-foot lengths are popular, featuring twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboard motors that rip through the water at high speed.
The Mercury Marine Verado 350 outboard offers you a better warranty and a better choice for your sports cat model. The 400R features a standard SportMaster gearcase in the engine, making it unsuitable for use in sports cars.
Two-stroke motors are on the way out, with most sports models shifting to 4-stroke engines for improved fuel efficiency and smoother power curves when accelerating. They also reduce noise and emissions, making them the suitable choice for your high-performance boat.
Multiple Sizing Options
The go-fast boats come in a range of lengths to suit your needs and experience. Typically, the recreational “beginner” high-performance boats come in sizes from 28 to 36-feet, with professional models extending anywhere up to 50-feet, with a few catamaran models being longer.
Suitable for Offshore Use
These boats offer excellent performance, and they are suitable for offshore use. Professional racing models allow for an extended range for the longest races.
Disadvantages of High-Performance Boats
Expensive Price Tags
The high-performance boat can set you back a considerable chunk of change. Most models start at $100,000, even for entry-level sports cats. Depending on the boat design, manufacturing brand, Customization options, and length, you could end up paying more than a million dollars for a pro racing boat.
Expensive to Maintain and Dock
The high-performance boat is like owning a Porsche. Sure, it’s great driving it, but you’ll choke when you see the servicing bill. The high-capacity motors and stern configurations on most models mean they have higher servicing costs. You’ll also need to consider that these models are unsuitable for trailering, so you’ll need a dedicated slot at the marina, adding to your ownership and running costs.
Large Engines and More Fuel Consumption
Since these boats have the largest motors and several engines in their configuration, you’ll be spending more money on fuel. Think about it like a fancy sports car; you get way less economy with a Lamborghini than you do with a Toyota Camry.
Your smaller high-performance boats offer you more passenger capacity than the larger racing models. These boats are not known for their passenger capability – they focus on performance. More people on the boat adds to the overall weight, reducing the speed and maneuverability of the boat.
While larger models may offer v-berths and under-seat storage, they are not the best choice if you’re looking for ample storage space. You might get a built-in cooler and a small cuddy, but don’t expect to pack your fishing and dive gear into this boat.
Not the Best Choice for Fishing or Watersports
These boats don’t offer crossover capability for watersports and fishing. While you can fish from them, that is not the design intention for these models. They are for speed and racing, not sports and fishing.
Most Models are Not Trailerable
The length and weight of these boats mean most of the models over 40-feet are not trailerable. You’ll need to store them in a slip at the marina.
Top High-Performance Boat Brands and Models
There are dozens of manufacturing brands and hundreds of high-performance boat models. Here are our top choices for some of the best go-fast boats available.
Fountain 34 Thundercat
The Fountain 34 Thundercat is an incredibly fast boat for its size, offering plenty of performance out on the open water.
This 34-foot model offers max speeds of up to 130-mph, featuring a 10′ 2″ beam and enough passenger capacity for four to six people. It’s a great choice for an entry-level boat into the world of go-fast vessels.
You get twin outboard motors, with plenty of performance, and under-seat storage, with a center console driver configuration for stability and control over the boat at speed. It’s a great choice for your first high-performance boat, and it comes with an affordable price tag compared to other go-fast models offering the same level of accessories, design quality, and engine performance.
Stealth Yachts 540 FLY
The Stealth Yachts 540 Fly looks like it belongs in a Navy stealth boat program, with flat sides and boxy looks. It’s an incredibly fast boat for its size, offering plenty of performance out on the open water. This 34-foot model offers max speeds of up to 130-mph, featuring an 18-foot beam and multi-hull setup.
This model has plenty of passenger capacity offering you bow and aft seating, two captain’s chairs, and a center console configuration. It’s a visually impressive boat offering you excellent perf5romance from its in-stern engine setup, reaching speeds of 50-knots thanks to the 800hp MAN Common Rail diesel engines and the Integrated Surface Drives (ISD).
The 70-foot monohull design gives you plenty of stability at high speed, and there are three staterooms, a 12-person flybridge, spacious side decks, and a central walk-through linking the aft and bow of the boat.
This boat is long and narrow, designed for straight-line speed, reducing drag from the hull on the water. The 38-foot length of the boat makes it a mid-range model, capable of speeds up to 120-mph on open water.
You get a lightweight design with carbon fiber options and powerful 450-HP motors, giving you plenty of acceleration and top-end speed for racing. It’s not a professional model, but it offers the recreational driver the time of their life on the water.
Mercedes AMG Cigarette Racing Boat
If you drive a Mercedes on land, why not own one for the water? This AMG series “cigarette boat” from Mercedes gives you everything you would expect from the AMG brand, including six powerful high-performance AMG Mercedes motors giving it a top-end of 180-mph.
The 59-foot length of the boat provides exceptional stability at speed, cutting through the water with its monohull design and generous use of carbon fiber. It’s a real racing boat and suitable for a professional competition.
The world of high-performance boating isn’t for the faint of heart. However, if you have the need for speed, then you can’t go wrong with the go-fast model. Choose between double or single hull configurations, a wide variety of build materials, including carbon fiber, and your choice of engine configuration and seating arrangements.
However, due to the high price tags of these models, make sure you have a budget in mind when selecting your boat. It’s easy to add 20% to 40% to the purchase price when customizing your boat.