average-pontoon-speeds

Average Pontoon Boat Speeds (With 15 Examples)

When buying a pontoon boat, one of the major considerations is your top speed.  Since pontoon boats are generally not built for speed, skiing and tubing behind one can be difficult unless you take care to select an engine, weight, and pontoon style that will be conducive to speeds required for skiing and tubing.

How Fast Do Pontoon Boats Go?

I scoured the internet for guys who have reported their speeds on forums around the web.  All speeds recorded with GPS, and except where listed, with a light to medium load.

  • G3 Suncatcher 22′ V22RF with a 115hp engine and medium load can go about 25 mph (39 kilometers)
    • 22mph (38 kilometers) with a 90hp engine and medium load
    • With 11 people in the boat (max capacity) and a 115hp engine, it gets about 22 mph (35 kilometers)
    • Under perfect, ideal conditions and only one person in the boat, it can hit 31 mph (48 kmph)
  • 21′ with lifting strakes and a 90hp engine and perfect conditions gets 36 mph (58 kilometers)
  • 18′ Bass Buggy with 60hp engine can go up to 18mph (29 kilometers)
  • Suntracker 22′ with a 70hp engine can get 21 mph with a light load (34 kilometers)
  • Gigantic 30′ Pontoon with a 115hp will only get around 15mph (24 kilometers)
  • 24′ Pontoon boat with a 115hp and a medium load got around 25mph (38 kilometers)
  • 18′ Party Barge with a 75hp engine can get around  24mph (38 kilometers)
  • 20′ Bass Buggy with a 60hp motor only gets around 13-17 mph (18 to 27 kilometers)
  • 20′ Starcraft with a 75hp engine and with no load can get 23 mph (36 kilometers)
  • 26′ Crest III with a 90hp engine and medium load can get around 28mph (45 kilometers)
  • 24′ 2006 Sweetwater with a 90hp engine can go around 18mph, or 20.5mph with a 115hp engine
  • 26′ Tritoon with a 175hp engine and a medium/heavy load can get up to 35mph (56 kilometers)
  • 21′ Tritoon with a 90hp engine and only two people on board can get up to 27mph (43 kilometers)

How Fast Do You Really Need to Go?

Your initial response is probably “the faster, the better” but in reality you likely don’t need to go as fast as you think.  While speeds certainly vary according to the tastes and abilities of your riders, consider the following as good average speeds for various water sport activities.

  • Waterskiing with two skis – 15 to 26mph is pretty normal (28 to 42 kilometers)
  • Tubing with very young kids – My kids really don’t want to go faster than 5 to 10 mph (16kph).  They are 4 and 6 years old.  Most of the time, they feel like idling is a wild ride, but will sometimes get brave enough to hit 11mph.
  • Tubing with kids 8 – 10 years old – Depends dramatically on the kid, but most wouldn’t want to go faster than 15 or 20 mph (24 to 32 kilometers).
  • Tubing with older teens and adults – Above 25 mph (40 kilometers) is dangerous unless you’re just going in a straight line.  At 20 (34 kilometers), you can get really nice air and have the ride of your life but even this speed can be dangerous with more than one rider.  21 mph is a pretty adventurous ride and will easily knock off riders if you make tight turns.
  • Wakeboarding – 13mph to 18mph (30 kilometers) is a pretty average ride. Wakeboarding requires less speed than many other water sports, and going too fast increases the danger dramatically.  The large, solid board strapped to both legs makes this water sport more dangerous at high speeds than some others.
  • Slalom skiing – 14mph (22.5 kilometers) is a little slow and 36mph is HAULING (and extremely dangerous)!  A good average speed is somewhere around 22mph (35 kilometers).
  • Kneeboarding – Somewhere around 13 to 20 mph (22 to 32 kilometers)
  • BarefootThis blog gives a formula that is helpful for those in the U.S.  Take your weight in pounds and divide by 10.  Then add 20.  So if you’re 200 pounds, you go to 20mph, then add 20, which means 40mph.

If you are new to boating, that is probably a little eye-opening.  Before, you thought you needed as much speed as possible, but as you can see from this breakdown, the optimal speed for most watersports is only 22 mph (36 kilometers).  Just about ANY pontoon boat with a 90hp motor can do that as long as it isn’t loaded down with people.  With a 115, you should be hitting the optimal speed even if your boat is pretty well loaded down with people. For most pontoon boat captains, the real goal is to hit the golden 22 mph (36 kph) mark.  At that point, your fishing/cruising rig becomes a nice watersports rig as well.

How Weight (Load) Affects Speed

Prepare yourself for a horrible generalization.  This depends dramatically on the specific boat and the setup, but just as a guestimation aid, for every thousand pounds you add to your boat, you’ll lose about 15% of your speed.  So a 22′ boat with no load may get up to 29mph, but will likely slow down to 24.5mph with 1,000 pounds of people in the boat (5 or 6 adults).

How the bimini Affects Speed

  • One pontoon boat captain reported that folding down the bimini took  his speed from 32mph all the way up to 36mph (51kilometers to 58 kilometers).  In my experience, it’s usually much less of a difference than that unless it is an incredibly windy day.  I usually only see a 1 mph difference with top up vs down.

How the Prop Affects Speed

  • When you first get your boat, it will likely come with a “safe” prop that is meant to make the motor operate under nice and easy conditions.  Almost everyone will switch out that prop and go with something a little smaller (usually) to get the speed up and push up the RPMs to around 5000 or 6000 depending on your recommended range for your particular motor.

How Dirty Pontoons Affect Speed

  • It is not surprising to see a pontoon boat slow down 2 to 6mph if you have algae, barnacles, or other crud on your pontoons.  For those pontoon boat captains who don’t trailer but leave their boat in the water most of the season, this is an important consideration.

Comments

  1. I have a princecraft 24 foot Sportfisher that will only do about 15 mph any suggestions on how I can get the speed up. This is a pontoon boat

  2. I have a 20′ G3 Suncatcher with a 90 Yamaha. RPM is only 4800 with a speed of 24 mph. This seems low. Any comments?

  3. Author

    @Gary Kilpatrick – That doesn’t really surprise me. My 22′ with a 115 does about 28 most of the time. So with a 90hp I wouldn’t be surprised to see 24mph.

    The RPM does seem a little low, though. Have you tried a different prop with a little less surface area? What does the manual for your engine say the WOT RPM should be?

  4. I have a 24′ Manitou Legacy Tritoon with a Yamaha F225 engine. The propeller is a Mercury Revolution 4 (48 – 857024A46 17P). With WOT @ 6,000RPMs I am only getting 38mph (by GPS). Shouldn’t this be much faster? I have been told that I should be hitting 50mph.

    I boat on a large lake and would like to get to where I am going as fast as possible. Any suggestions or is 38 about right?

  5. Author

    Seems like 38 might be just a hair slower than I’d expect, but I’d doubt 50. Is that 38 with several people on board? If that’s the case then I’d say that’s about right. What’s your WOT RPM?

  6. Our 2014 g3 20 footer will peg out the speedo with one person on it in smooth water. So that’s 35mph plus with a 90hp. I’m turning over 6000 rpms

  7. Author

    @Austin – That seems really fast fast for a 90hp. Are you measuring your speed with the speedometer on the dash, or are you measuring with GPS on a fish finder or on your phone? Usually the speedometer on the dash is VERY off.

  8. My 20 foot Triton 208 Silver Pontoon max speed is 23 MPH GPS. With a 2007 Mercury 90 ELPTO 2 cycle wot at 5000 RPM. With 2 people, 8 foot top up, full tank of gas and the dog. Calm smooth day on Lake Fork, Texas at 403 feet above sea level. Engine trimmed to fastest speed….

  9. Your pretty much on target as far as pontoon speed vs horsepower.

  10. I have a new G3 V20c with a Yamaha 40hp that is getting up to 16mph but only getting 4100 RPMs compared to the recommended 4 to 5 thousand range. The dealer mechanic came out and said it was a dog and changed props from a 12 pitch to an 11 which made no difference in RPMs. He is going to special order a 9 pitch with some special turbo boost. I know the boat with a 40 won’t be really fast but I am more concerned with damaging the engine running WOT at significantly lower RPMs. Thoughts ?

  11. I have a Bennington 2250 Tritoon with a Evinrude G2 200hp motor and can get to 43 MPH. What a blast blowing the speed boats by. I have not pulled anyone yet, but can you pull more than one tube at the same time?

  12. I have a 2015 18′ Manitour with a 2015 50 HP Comand Thrust Mercury. With half a tank of fuel and 800# load I can only get about 4000 RPM and 15 MPH. This seems slow to me. I expected arount 20 MPH. Did I buy a pig in a poke?

  13. 20 foot pontoon with two toons with a 115 Sho Yamaha with 700 pounds on board is getting 23 MPH at 5000 RPM but can go up to 6500 RPM with no more out put. What can I do to get the MPH up.

  14. I have a 20 foot Palm Beach Sport cruise 200. I have a 115 mercury 4 stroke. I have adjusted the prob and I have performance underskinning that I installed, my top speed with GPS the about 28 or 29 miles per hour wot at 5200 rpm with 1 person. will I gain any speed adding a center tube?

  15. For Bob & Bob Dawson. Bob you need to find the manufacturer recommended RPM @ WOT & prop it to run in that range w/the load you usually run… basic rule of thumb is you go smaller diameter or drop the pitch the RPM will go up & vice versa (most manufacturers do that before the motor was put on the boat)
    Bob Dawson, 50 HP on what you run should give acceptable performance a quick search says your rig has a 60HP max using the rule of thumb for ALL watercraft DON’T put LESS than 75% of max HP you should have at least 45HP on it to perform as designed. A few things for Everybody since it looks like there’s more questions than answers…. 4 stroke will usually always run lower RPM than 2 strokes & a common misconception is they’re dirty… modern 2 stroke w/direct fuel & oil injection are as clean as some 4 strokes some meet California EPA so unless you’re in or traveling to waters where 4 stroke is mandatory don’t dismiss the 2 stroke. Always remember the 75% rule the max that is on the coastguard plaque by the helm (I’ve seen dealers going way lower on all styles of boats) Also (don’t get mad) you guys are running pontoons they don’t call them party barges for nothing, they’re built for comfort not speed unless you’re this guy w/3 big block Mercs… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLRwkrBZzsA
    B.T.W. in case you’re wondering this is info I’ve learned over the years… My rigs not fancy or new but it gets me on the water… 1998 Glastron Carlson CSX-18 (boats max HP is 175) mine has a 1998 Johnson 150HP Fitch FastStrike w/a Ballistic 14 & 3/4″ x 21″ prop (that’s the stock prop) w/31-25 gal. fuel & 952 lb 5-6 people it will run 54MPH @ 5300 to 5400 RPM I mainly run 35-40MPH @ 3500-4000RPM F.Y.I. if it had the 175HP I would only gain 4MPH according to the manufacturer info. When your boat is “dialed in” to its sweet spot most things we do may only give us a mph here & a couple mph there… When my mechanic told me Carlson designs are usually ahead of their time he was right…

    MAN I went WAY longer than I thought I would…

  16. i’ve got a 24 foot sun tracker (2 logs) with a 115 2 stroker mariner mercy on it, want to go with a 4 stroke. not looking for crazy speed, or pulling anything, live on a river. I’m looking at the Yamaha 4 stroke T60 (60hp). Would that be extremely underpowered? I want to switch to a 4 stroke for noise, efficiency sake etc….

  17. I just bought a Sylvan 8522 (23 footer, dry weight of 2100) and I ordered it with only a Yamaha 40mph. I only intend to putz around the lake, but I am assuming it will at least hit 10mph- am I hilariously under-horsed?

    (I have other boats I use for tubing, skiing, fishing ect, this is just a cruise party barge)

    Thanks!

  18. i have a 87 bass tracker20footer with 87 mariner 75 hp it will only do 18 to 20 mph but sometimes it just takes off and goes up to 25mph but when did that didn’t look at rpm but motor seems to run betterbut then right back to 18 20 mph at that it’s running at 5000 rpm can you help me

  19. I had an old beater pontoon that was given to me with a cabin I bought. 1993 Premier Pontoon stroke . I’ll spare you details but it sucked. Died on the first day I took it out.

    I recently had the baby painted and bought a brand new 115hp Suzuki 4 stroke. Man the boat is a beast now. I can get 26mph at 4800 rpm. Not sure what’s the max rpm I can do on it. New gauges and errrr thing. Love it.

  20. We have a 22 foot suncatcher with a Yamaha 70 4 stroke and we have hit 21 or 19 with a load. Plenty fast

  21. We have an 8-yr old Bennington 2275 triple pontoon with performance runners (whatever they’re called); and I just got it out of storage. With the Honda 150 it did 35 MPH (GPS) on the trip from the marina to our lift on a smooth lake with a slight side wind.

    I’ve seen 38 (GPS) with a slight breeze to my starboard stern (once); but have trouble seeing 36 or 37 with 1 or two on board.

    I can’t remember the rpm – but they’re up just north of 6,000.

    It cruises very comfortably over 18 MPH – on the water. Much slower and it’s in the water.

    The boat LEAPS on plane in a couple of boat lengths – but I need to keep the engine trimmed nearly all the way forward (at level, it cavitates terribly; and engine RPM go up with little speed increase) – and I’ve double checked with Bennington to ensure that the engine’s mounted correctly (deep enough).

    20160508

  22. That what a toon is made for Ie enjoyment no speed. You will go faster than 10 my guess 15

  23. I have a 2013 XPRESS (veranda) all aluminum deck 20′ with a 70hp Yamaha.
    top speed with 6 people aboard is 15-16 mph.
    only two aboard 19-20 mph

  24. any info would help ya’ll, have a 21′ 09 sweetwater with a 50 hp 2 stroke Yamaha, it get me out there but always want a little more, would like to put bigger motor on it but not sure how much more i can go, dealers give me the run around with prop pitch and so on not looking for a lot more speed but power to pull better for grand kids on tubes, have tried different props but just not enough motor to make it happen any suggestions would help in my decision.

  25. I know this is an old thread, but thank you to the author. Just got a 24′ Harris FloteBote with a 90HP 4 stroke Evinrude on it, so I know what to expect now.

  26. How many RPMs are you turning? You should be getting close to 48 to 50

  27. Great article, I have a 20ft tritoon with an older johnson v4 115hp. havnt used it yet but am needing a new prop. looking at “Michigan Wheel 13 7/8″ X 13P 4 Blade AL Propeller 941413”.

    good choice?

  28. We have a 24 ft Bennington, 2014 model, It is a tritoon, the 3rd toon is a full toon, not a half toon… She has a 200HP Yamaha motor. On GPS, with 2 people and half tank of gas, we have seen 44mph…. This boat, with 5 people on it (adults), can pull a 265 lb kid on a tube at 38mph…. it’s a beast.

  29. I bought a Sylvan 8522 (23’10”) tritoon with a Yamaha 150. This boat had the RPT toons and maxes out at 33 mph at 5800 rpm with a full tank of gas and 3 people.

    With just me and 1/4 tank of gas, I saw 34 mph yesterday at 5800 rpm.

    The boat has a 14.5×15 Solas 3 bald prop.

    I am 9 hours into my 10 hour breakin and was hoping thst this boat was a little faster.

  30. Marty, at 6000 RPM I am guessing you are at the very top of the Yamaha Range. To add more top speed, you could probably go up an inch on your propeller pitch. Would probably put you over 40 mph, and get your max RPM’s down to 5500 which would be better for the motor.

  31. Just bought a 22′ Sweetwater (2- 25′ Tunes) with a 115HP Yamaha. We are hitting about 27 mph with 4 on board and some coolers. We did tube for the 1st time with 6 people 2 large coolers and gear. We had it up to 22mph for the bulk of the tubing.

  32. I have a 26 ft Bennington tritoon and I can hit 38 mph with four people on with a 150 Mercury four stroke and I am reving 5800 – 5900 rpm

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