How fast do pontoon boats go?

How fast do pontoon boats go?

When one talks about buying a pontoon boat, speed is one of the important factors that need to be considered.

Pontoons are primarily used for fishing and leisure purposes and are not meant for any kind of water sports, skiing, or tubing that needs higher speed.

But, if speed is one of your main criteria for buying a pontoon boat, then you need to consider engine size, weight and boat design to determine how fast a pontoon boat can go?

How fast can a pontoon boat go?

How fast do pontoon boats go?

Usually, a pontoon can go at a speed of 18 to 25 miles per hour. Some high-speed models can go up to 50 mph as well.

If you are looking for a faster pontoon, you can invest in a high-performance pontoon or a tri-toon. But these high-speed pontoons will cost you relatively more than a regular pontoon.

Here are a few of the factors that help in determining how fast a pontoon boat can go:

  1. Size of the engine
  2. Number of tubes beneath the deck
  3. Load on the boat

How much fast do you want your pontoon to go?

How much speed you want on your pontoon depends on the activities that you want to use the boat for.

The table below explains the speed you require for various activities:

Water-skiing with two skis15-26 mph
Tubing with the family (especially young children)5-10 mph
Tubing with children (8-10 years)15-20 mph
Tubing with teens and adultsAbove 25 mph (T&Cs apply)
Wakeboarding13-18 mph
Slalom skiing14mph
Knee-boarding13-20 mph

With the given list of activities along with their speed range, it’s easy to realize that you don’t need a lot of high speeds.

The average speed can be limited to 22 mph, and a boat with a 90hp motor can be a good addition to your fleet.

However, if you are traveling with a load or a lot of people, then a boat with a 115HP motor should give you the speeds you are looking for.

Speed Chart: How fast do pontoon boats go?

Here is a chart showing different pontoon models and their speed:

Size and ModelHorsepowerMPH
20’ Sun Tracker Bass Buggy6013-18 mph
18’ Sun Tracker Bass Buggy6018mph
20’ Godfrey Sweetwater 2086C9022 mph
G3 Suncatcher22’ V22RF11525 mph
21’ Tritoon9027 mph
20 ft Quest 820 Lanai (Tri)11534
20 ft Ultra 202 Fish & Cruise11527
23 ft Sweetwater 238611525
23 ft Manitou Encore SHP 373 (Tri)25045
21 ft Bennington 21 SLX13538
24 ft South Bay 224RS LE 2511525
24 ft Xcursion 255RFX (Tri)11527
27 ft Xcursion 255RFX (Tri)25041
25 ft JC Marine 25 NepToon (Tri)15033
25 ft JC Marine 25 NepToon (Tri)25046
22 ft Manitou Oasis15036
21 ft Sylvan Mirage 8520 C&F15039
22ft Bennington RLI (Tri)15038

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Tips to make your pontoon boat go faster

Even though pontoons are not meant for speed but it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to improve the speed and performance of a pontoon.

Here are a few things that can help you in making your pontoon go faster:

Load and weight on the boat

Weight on the boat and your boat’s speed are inversely proportional.

In other words, the heavier the weight, the slower your boat would move.

For every 1000 pounds of extra load, a pontoon can lose up to 15 % of its top speed and that weight can come in form of extra people, furniture, equipment, or anything else.

So, take some extra load off your pontoon to increase speed.

Placement of the engine

The placement of the boat’s engine is another determinant of the boat’s speed.

If the bow is submerged in the water, there are high chances your engine is not positioned correctly.

Subsequently, you would need to hire a hydraulic motor, to get the position corrected.

Ensure you don’t tilt it too high, as that would not be productive either.

Keep your pontoon clean

The cleaner your pontoons, the faster your boat travels.

Since they are immersed in the water, there can be a lot of algae, seaweed, and barnacles, which will slow down your boat.

Keeping your hull, propellers and boat’s pontoons clean, will extend your boat’s life and enhance the speed.

Checkout this video why your pontoon is slow and how to make your pontoon go fast:

Installing lifting stakes

Most times, a new pontoon boat, or even a tri-toon boat comes equipped with lifting stakes.

In case, your boat does not have them, it is highly beneficial to get them installed. 

Lifting stakes are metal strips, which are welded to the pontoons, which lifts the boat above the water.

These stakes cut through the water, allowing your boat to glide seamlessly to achieve higher speed.

Don’t fill the fuel tank full

A full gas tank will increase the weight of the boat.

So, if not planning for a longer trip, fill up the gas tank just half to manage the weight.

Upgrade your props

If you want to increase the speed of your pontoon, consider upgrading the prop.

There are various props available in the market and you can check with the dealer to pick the right kind of prop based on your need.

Need for speed: Choosing the fastest pontoon

Choosing the fastest pontoon

Choosing between pontoons and tri-toons

Most of the pontoon boats are two-tube pontoon.

These boats provide perfect stability for slow-speed activities like fishing or swimming where you do not need to race through the water.

However, at a higher speed, the boat would lean towards one side while taking sharp turns which is a significant safety issue.

Tri-toons, on the other hand, have a third tube, which is mounted lower than the outward two tubes.

When the boat is traveling at a speed, the boat will glide on the centre tube, while relying on the outboard tubes for stability.

Three tubes work in tandem to provide comfort, stability and speed to the boat making them perfect for water sports.

Here are some examples of tri-toons:

Boat NameHPSpeed (mph)
22ft Bennington RLI (Tri)15038
24 ft South Bay 224RS LE 2511525
24 ft Xcursion 255RFX (Tri)11527
27 ft Xcursion 255RFX (Tri)25041

Final thoughts on how fast do pontoon boats go?

Now that you have a fair idea about a pontoon’s speed capability, the pertinent question is, how far do you want your boat to go?

In short, whenever in doubt, go for a bigger engine with better power. You can also opt for a tri-toon based on your needs and the water surface you would be using the boat on for better stability.