Pontoon Boat Speeds: How Fast Can a Pontoon Boat Go?

If you are interested in purchasing a pontoon boat, one of the most important factors in your decision is how fast the boat can actually go. This is because pontoon boat speeds and RPM are an important factor in which water sports activities you will be able to participate in. For example, tubing and skiing require a faster speed and higher RPM, so you will need to make sure that your boat has an engine that is able to accommodate that.

You may be wondering how fast pontoon boats can actually go? Here is everything that you need to know about pontoon boats, how fast they can actually go, and everything in between!

How Fast Can Pontoons Go?

how fast can a pontoon boat go

One of the most commonly asked questions about these boats is ‘how fast can a pontoon boat go?’ While the answer to this question will depend upon the brand and model of pontoon, the engine size, maximum hp, and what the engine RPM level is that you are looking at, it really is something that just varies.

For example, even with a decent 175hp engine, 1,000 pounds is still a lot of weight to move. This means you may want to get something that has a larger-sized engine in order to keep everything moving as quickly as you would like.

Here is a list of the top ten pontoons and their top speeds.

Now keep in mind that the speeds mentioned below have been verified with the use of GPS and have been taken with a medium-sized load or lighter (this means that if you are planning on packing your pontoon with a heavier load or more people on board, you should also expect your max speed to be slower as well.)

1. G3 Suncatcher 22 V22RF

The Suncatcher 22 is 22 feet long and comes in either a 90hp or 115hp engine. The 90 horsepower model reaches a top speed of 22 mph, while the 115 horsepower version tops out at about 31 mph (with a very light load).

2. Bass Buggy

The Bass Buggy comes equipped with a 60hp engine that reaches a top speed of about 18 mph with a medium load.

3. Suntracker 22

The Suntracker 22 is a 22-foot pontoon that has a 70hp engine. With a light load, you can expect to reach around 21 mph.

4. Party Barge 18

The Party Barge is an 18-foot boat that has a 75hp engine. The max speed is right around 25 miles per hour with a medium load.

5. Starcraft 20

This 20-foot pontoon has a 75 hp motor that includes a top speed of 23 mph with a very light load.

6. Gigantic 30

The Gigantic 30 pontoon is 30 feet long and comes with a powerful 115hp engine. Since this pontoon is so large, it has a top speed of about 15 mph.

7. Crest III 26

The Crest III is a 26-foot boat that has a 90hp motor and reaches a max speed of about 28 mph when packed with a medium-sized load.

8. Tritoon 26

This Tritoon is 26 feet long and has a very powerful motor boasting 175hp. With a medium to heavy sized load, the powerful engine can the pontoon up to speeds of 35 mph.

9. Tritoon 21

This 21 foot Tritoon has a 90hp engine that reaches a max speed of 27 mph when loaded with just two people.

10. Lifting Strakes 24

A 24-foot pontoon, the lifting strakes has a 90hp motor that reaches speeds up to 36 mph when packed with a medium load or less.

How Fast Does Your Pontoon Boat Really Need to be?

tubing with a pontoon boat

Now that you are somewhat familiar with some of the more popular brands of pontoon boats and how fast you can expect them to go, you may be wondering how fast you really need them to be?

Initially, you may think that the faster they can go, the better. But what you may not be aware of, is that you actually don’t really need to go as fast as you may think you do. 

While the amount of speed you prefer your pontoon boat to have is going to be subjective and really depend upon your individual needs, here are some of the average speeds that will be required of your boat for some of the more common water sports and activities.

Wakeboarding

The average speeds for wakeboarding are between 13 mph and 18 mph. Just keep in mind that this particular water activity does not require as much speed as some of the others, as the faster you go the more dangerous it will become. Since both of your feet are strapped to one solid board, the potential for danger at higher speeds is much greater than most other water sports.

Slalom Skiing

Depending upon how experienced you are at slalom skiing with pontoons will determine how fast you should be going, but this typically ranges between 14 mph and can get much faster at up to 36 mph (which is very dangerous). The average speed, however, is right around the 22 mph range.

Waterskiing with Two Skis

The average speed for this activity will typically average between 15 and 25 mph. This of course depends on how experienced the rider is, but most will start on two skis 15 miles per hour until they have some experience. 

Kneeboarding

Kneeboarding is an activity that most enjoy between speeds of 13 and 20 mph. As with all of the other water sports mentioned, this too depends on how experienced the rider is.

Barefoot Skiing

This is an activity that is completely dependent upon the rider and not recommended for those with little experience.  A good rule of thumb to get what your miles per hour should be, however, is to take the total weight (in pounds) of the rider and then divide that by 10. Once you have done this, add 20 to that number. 

For example, if you weighed 200 pounds, divide that by 10 and you would have 20 miles per hour. Now add 20 to this number and you get a speed of 40 miles per hour.

Tubing

With Younger Kids

Most younger kids under 8 years old will be more than happy with tubes going between 5 and 10 miles per hour. However, you may find that there are some younger kids who like to go faster, those reaching speeds of up to 17 mph.

Kids 8-12 Years Old

This is something that will vary with each kid, but the average speed of boats for this age range will typically range in the 20 mph to 23 mph area.

Teens and Adults

The older crowd may be more likely to get into the 25 mph and up range, but these speeds can be very dangerous unless you are simply going straight. If you are going to be taking tight turns or riding with more than one rider, 20 - 24 mph will still give most riding pontoons an exciting ride.

If you are not familiar with boating, you may be thinking that these speeds are not very fast at all. But now that you are aware of the different speeds of some of the more popular water activities (as was just outlined above), you must know that 22 mph is considered to be an optimal speed for just about every water sport (the exception being little kids).

As for pontoon boats, you will be happy to know that almost any one of them and a 90 horsepower motor should be able to reach this speed as long as it is not overloaded with people. With the larger 115hp motor, you should be able to achieve these even with a boat full of people. Just know that getting your boat to the magical speed of 22 mph will turn your cruising/fishing pontoon boat into a family favorite watersports boat too.

Various Factors Affecting Your Speed

As with any type of boat, it is how your boat is set up that will have the largest impact on the speed it can go. In fact, it is roughly estimated that for every additional thousand pounds that you add, you should expect to lose around 15% of your max speed.  So making sure you reduce your weight capacity a little will definitely help in the long run.

The obvious things like the bimini top, changing rooms and portable toilets, anchors, and all the other possible accessories, play a role in adding to the overall weight of your pontoon and can affect the speed.

Here are some of the main factors you need to take into account in regard to your pontoon’s speed.

The Bimini

Your boat’s bimini (which is the sunshade for your boat), can potentially increase the amount of wind resistance you experience. However, unless it is an extremely windy day, this will normally not have little effect on how fast you can go when your bimini is up.

The Prop

Most pontoon boats normally come with a prop that is considered to be ‘safe’. Most people buying a pontoon boat will usually switch this prop out for one that is much smaller. The smaller prop will then allow for a faster speed, as well as increase the RPMs.

Your Pontoon is Dirty

If your pontoon boat is covered in barnacles, algae and other types of crud, it can slow down your boat up to 6 mph. So if you leave your pontoon boat in the water regularly, this is definitely something you need to take into consideration. You may consider giving your boat a wash & wax once in a while.

Increasing Pontoon Boat Speed

fast pontoon boat

When you are ready to have your pontoon go faster, there are several different things that you can do. Here are the top 10 little things you need to go do in order to increase how fast your average pontoon boat can go.

  1. Trim Your Engine for Better Performance
  2. Make Sure Your Tubes are Clean
  3. Adjust the Thrust by Tuning the Motor
  4. Change the Lift by Switching to Planing Pontoon Tubes
  5. Reduce how Much Weight the Boat is Carrying
  6. Raise Your Pontoon with Lifting Strakes
  7. Don’t Fill Your Fuel Tank up to Capacity with Fuel
  8. Add an Underskin
  9. Try Better Weight Distribution
  10. Go with the Wind

What About a Tri-Toon?

If you want to go faster, you may want to consider converting your pontoon boat to a tri-toon. In case you were not familiar with a tri-toon, it is essentially going to a normal pontoon boat that has an extra pontoon tube. This means you basically have 3 pontoons on your boat instead of only 2. 

But the big question, is it worth it to convert, and do I need to go do this?

The typical cost of converting your average pontoon boat into a tri-toon boat is right around $4-5,000. You will be making your boat faster and have a very noticeable increase in power and performance, but from the hassle perspective, you may be better off simply purchasing an actual tri-toon boot than trying to convert over your pontoon boat. it really just depends on how important the extra power and performance really are to you.

What’s the World’s Fastest Pontoon Boat?

When you think of the world’s fastest pontoon boat, you may think that 50 mph will dominate all. However, that is not quite going to cut it. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Brad Rowland and his 25-foot pontoon have been able to reach speeds up to 114 mph! Check it out here:

Common Questions & Answers

1. How fast will a 90 hp pontoon boat go?

A 90 hp pontoon boat should be able to reach around 21 mph, that going upwards of 25 miles per hour.

2. How fast will a 150 hp pontoon boat go?

This varies upon the size of the boat and the load it is carrying, but they will typically be able to reach upwards of 30-40 miles per hour.

3. How fast will a 300 hp pontoon boat go?

A 300 hp pontoon will be able to reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Just keep in mind that this will vary depending upon the water conditions, the weight of the load, etc.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to pontoon boat speeds, it is definitely something that you must keep in mind when it comes time for buying a pontoon boat.

The best thing you can do is to make a list of all the different water activities you want to go do with your boat over the duration of having it, using this to then decide how fast you really need it to be from that list.

If you don’t do this, you may find that you have purchased a boat that is way underpowered for what you would like to do with it. Or it could be even worse, and you get a boat that is too powerful, potentially putting riders at risk whenever you are doing water activities. 

Just be sure you know what you are planning on using your pontoon boat for and you should have no trouble finding the one with the right speed.