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How Fast Do Speed Boats Go? – Updated in 2023

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how fast do speed boats go

When people ask me, “How fast do speed boats go?”, I often resist the urge to just give them a general figure. Still, there are quite a handful of different types of speed boats already so to say that 50 mph won’t do them justice.

If we’re going to look at the average speed of most “regular” speed boats that figure is, in fact, the minimum. Plenty can achieve 70 mph.

More specialized speed boats can achieve 3x or 4x that in top speed, though. The three quickest in the world have a range of 261 to 317 mph.

Different Types of Boats and Their Speed Averages

It’s worth noting the various average speeds of the main types of boats in mph or km/h, so you can easily compare speed boats to other vessels. I’ve compiled them all here for your easy reference with mph as the main metric:

  • A V-hull or a boat with a planing hull runs at 47 mph.
  • A center console achieves 65 mph.
  • An average sailboat or yacht can go for 8 mph, but racing varieties can manage close to double that.
  • A pontoon boat rests somewhere around 30 mph.
  • A kayak moves at 3 mph.
  • A houseboat, regardless of size, cruises at 11.5 mph.

As you can see, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact average speed of a boat, considering the general nature of that question. What kind of vessel are we talking about exactly?

You have to be more precise like, “What is the average speed of outboard speed boats?” or “What is the typical speed boat max speed?” All the while, you also have to account for the different manufacturers and how they design their vessels, which can have a bearing on speed.

Get all the complete, verifiable answers to these questions in the next section.

Average and Maximum Speed of Performance-Based Boats


In most cases, speed boat top speed also factors in power boats. That’s all well and good since they’re generally accepted as synonymous with each other.

I’ve already mentioned the average speed above. The maximum speed of speed boats as a whole is 100 mph.

But does that ring true for all brands? Let’s find out by checking out their performance in calm waters.

  • A standard Cigarette boat can run at 92 mph.
  • Go Fast boats, notoriously preferred by smugglers, can achieve the same
  • Apache speed boats reach 100 mph, although they’re categorized as racing boats.
  • Nor-Tech sport boats hover at around 80 mph. Their catamarans have a top speed of over 200 mph, though.
  • Most recent Outlerlimits boats nowadays can break the 100-mph limit.

As you can see, a closer inspection of the most well-recognized already gives us both slightly and vastly different figures. What more if we include every speed boat and power boat manufacturer in the picture?

There’s no use doing that, though, the ones mentioned above, more or less, already serve as a reliable sample group.

Is 50 mph fast for a boat? Yes, but if we’re going to compare these “normal” vessels to the best racing boats top speed, they’re quickly overtaken.

For example, the Spirit of Australia, which was built way back in 1978, still holds the title of fastest boat in the world. No other vessel in existence has beaten its top speed of a whopping 317 mph.

If there ever was a competition crowing the fastest small boat, it will undoubtedly earn that title with quick ease.

The Bluebird K7 and the Problem Child come at a not-so-close second and third with top speeds of 276 mph and 262 mph, respectively.

If you’ve always wondered, “How fast do racing boats go?” take all of the brands and unique boats we featured here to get a crystal-clear idea.

How to Calculate Speed

There are two ways I normally go about this. The easiest route for me is to just rely on the onboard speedometer. If it’s in knots and you prefer to get it in mph, just multiply the figure by 1.151.

If you want to get technical and double-check, you can start by measuring the distance traveled in a specific amount of time. Measure in meters per second first.

Then, divide that distance by the time that elapsed to cover it. For example, 77 meters divided by 7 seconds = 11 meters per second.

11 m/s = 24.6 mph

Comparison Table of Casual, Fishing, and Top Racing Speed Boats

Boat Year Created Top Speed
Apache Star (Racing) 2015 100+ mph
Nor-Tech 392 (Fishing) 2022 81.9 mph
Wally 48 Wallytender X (Casual) 2020 43.7 mph
Problem Child (Racing) 2o13 262 mph
Bluebird K7 (Racing) 1955 276 mph
Spirit of Australia (Racing) 1978 317 mph

Factors Affecting the Speed of Speed Boats


  • Boat’s length – Longer boats tend to go faster thanks to their greater waterline length.
  • Hull design – Semi-displacement hulls tend to be faster than displacement hulls, while it’s difficult to match the top speed of planing hulls at relatively higher speeds. At best, it’s all thanks to their ability to raise a portion of the bow (i.e. planning) that decreases drag.

The same rings true for V-shaped hulls.

  • Engine and propellers – Naturally, a powerful engine propels a boat faster compared to weaker varieties. Short-pitched propellers take the load off the engine as well.
  • Wind and water conditions – If you’re going opposite the current, waves, and wind, expect your speed to be halved or cut even more drasticall Of course, you can expect the reverse if they’re working in your favor.
  • Water depth – Shallower water typically decreases a boat’s speed and may even pose a great risk to the propellers. In deeper waters, it’s the exact opposite as they can work optimally.

Frequently Asked Questions


Tips to get involved in high-performance boating

Go slow first and don’t rush to higher speeds until you’re ready. Ideally, you need to increase speeds gradually until you get the hang of them.

Find time to master your steering. I also can’t stress enough the importance of learning how to plane your boat and avoiding porpoising.

This takes practice session after practice session. If you want a visual tutorial to get you started, here’s one that helped me a lot: 

Finally, get to know your vessel more, particularly its limitations.

Tips to learn to drive (and safely handle) a go-fast boat

I only have one answer to this: Always take the time to get the right training through official courses. Doing so already allows you to tick important checkboxes like safety, handling, trimming, docking, and other essentials.

This isn’t really something that you can rush, especially as past trends have shown that most people struggle with simple maneuvering and docking/parking.


Have my inputs given you a clear and complete answer to the main question, “How fast do speed boats go?” To sum up how we arrived at the figures:

  • I looked at the average and top speeds of most of the popular speed boat brands.
  • I shared the three fastest production boats above, which are unlikely to be topped by any mass-produced boat any time soon.
  • I outlined the possible factors that may affect speed.
  • I also shared guidelines on how to effectively handle certain types of speed boats.
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