How Fast is a Pontoon Boat?

Manitou X-Plode Tritoon

A typical pontoon boat will travel at a rate of about 18 to 25 miles per hour. It may surprise you that these speeds are more than fast enough for a pontoon to be used for most water sports, like waterskiing and tubing. How fast a specific pontoon can go depends on the number of tubes beneath the deck, the size of the engine, and the load the boat is carrying. Pontoons aren’t usually known for their speed, but we’re doing what we can to change that.

How does a pontoon compare to a fiberglass boat?

Pontoon boats have a multi-hull aluminum structure and float through the water’s surface with a shallow draft. Pontoons can climb above the water and get to plane almost immediately when taking off, and they don’t experience as much horizon loss as speedboats and other fiberglass boats do when accelerating. Pontoons are designed to have maximum deck space and options for seating and entertaining, making them ideal for taking large groups out on the water. Accommodating these features means the average pontoon will be slower than the average fiberglass boat.

V-shaped hulls are the most common shape for fiberglass boats. These hulls have a deeper draft and are designed to displace water at lower speeds and lift the boat to plane at higher speeds. Boats designed to reach higher speeds have to sacrifice deck space, seating capacity, and other features to be more aerodynamic.

Fast pontoon boat design

Even if pontoons aren’t as fast as the average fiberglass boat, that doesn’t mean they have to be slow. Traditional two-tube pontoons are great for slower cruising speeds and a leisurely day on the lake. We’ve found that adding a third tube will not only make a pontoon more stable and buoyant, but with the right design, it can make a pontoon faster.

Here’s how we do it: Our tritoons are built with Manitou’s patented V-TOON hull technology. A larger center tube sits lower in the water, creating an optimal differential from the outer tubes to simulate a v-shaped hull. This means our tritoon boat mimics the physics of a v-hull boat. The tritoon will lift above the water and plane just like a fiberglass boat – only it will get to planing speed more quickly than a fiberglass boat. The V-TOON design also allows our pontoons to bank while turning, like v-hull boats do. Positive angle lifting strakes, available on the center tube on VP models, or all three tubes on SHP models, help our tritoons achieve a smooth plane. The results of these heavily-researched designs are improved acceleration and higher speeds than a typical pontoon boat can reach.

Manitou pontoons also have underskinning to reduce drag from water splashing up beneath the boat. The thick barracuda nosecones on our SHP models make the tubes strong enough to withstand higher speeds and rougher water.

What does all this mean for the tritoon’s speed? Well, with an average horsepower of about 165, our boats reach speeds of around 35 to 40 mph on average. And our 27 X-Plode XT SHP, a new length for 2018, recently reached 71 mph when equipped with two Mercury Racing 400R engines.

So yes, pontoons are generally slower than other powerboats…but they certainly don’t have to be boring! Check out our buyer’s guide to compare our pontoons and see what’s possible.

How to increase the speed and performance of a pontoon

Want a faster pontoon? In addition to the optimal experience a V-TOON hull gives, here are some ways you can maximize your pontoon’s speed and performance:

  • Add a second engine.
  • Add more horsepower.
  • Add underskinning.
  • Lighten the boat’s load.
  • Ensure the pontoons are clean below the waterline.
  • Lower the bimini cover.

 

If you’re interested in our performance pontoons, contact a Manitou dealer near you to start a discussion!

 

This article was originally posted on January 22, 2012 to celebrate the release of our X-Plode model. It has been updated to reflect the recent top speed of our X-Plode XT model.