RC Boating Basics
There are many different types of boats available in the ever-growing hobby market. Ready-To-Run RTR boats are the fastest growing segment of the RC boating industry by far. Today's RTR boats are roughly the same cost of yesterday's boat kits, but do not require the extensive build time as kits. Most RTR's have the radio system and engine components pre-installed so no building or extensive designing is needed. RTR boats come in a variety of performance levels and more commonly include a 2-channel stick-style radio for sailboats and entry-level boats. As both performance and speed continue to increase, the RC boating world has borrowed the pistol-grip style of radio from the RC car and truck market. Regardless of which radio is used, RTR boats are now easier to use, require less maintenance, and get hobbyists on the water in a fraction of the time as before.
Hull styles determine how the boat will handle as well as what top speeds the boat will be able to reach. Water conditions will also contribute to which hull design used since this affects the driving conditions.
V-hull Boats are definitely the most popular on the water since they are able to adapt in most water conditions. Deep-V boats such as the Pro Boat ShockWave 36 (PRB2050T) are rough water penetrator s that maintain high speed in choppy water. More shallow V-hull boats such as the Pro Boat Classic Runabout (PRB2600) are better stable in calm water and give a scale appearance as the wake it creates gently rolls off the bow - very realistic.
Hydroplanes, different than V-hull designs, generally contact the water with two or more sponsons that lift the front of the boat out of the water and create higher top speeds due to less contact with the water. These can be broken down into several different categories. Catamarans are scale versions of the thrilling high-powered, offshore racers. They handle the rougher water of all hydro-styles and maintain pretty high straight-line speeds. 3-point style hydros, such as the Pro Boat 1/12 Formula RTR Hydro (PRB3200), are typically used for inland racing on calmer water. This exciting style of boat grips corners at nearly full speed while throwing a 15-foot rooster tail of water spray behind it as it rips across the surface. Outriggers styles are unique to the RC industry and are made strictly for speed - the sponsons are detached from the main hull for increased stability. Outrigger's have the best blend of straight-line speed and cornering of all hydro style hulls. Known to be the fastest hull style around, Outriggers require more experienced driving skills and are less forgiving when it comes to trimming/adjusting, as well as requiring the smoothest of water conditions. If conditions are right, they can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Power Options - Electric, Nitro, or Gas
Electric Boats are the best choice for beginner modelers. While nitro boats require more engine adjustments, maintenance, and cleanup from nitro fuel, electrics are clean and easy to use while offering good performance and reliability. The Pro Boat Mini-V EP RTR (PRB3001) is an example of one of the great boats for modelers that just want to charge the battery and go. But to take the next step with electric power, upgrade to a brushless motor setup. To date, the world's boat speed record has been set by an electric brushless system. A quality and affordable brushless boat to get started with could be the Pro Boat BLACKJACK 26 Brushless Catamaran RTR (PRB3300). It offers nitro-powered speed with the convenience of electric.
Nitro Boats usually offer more performance than electrics because of the increased power-to-weight ratio - this will continue to change as electric powered motors grow in amperage output. Today's nitros usually have a pull-starter for the engine and require a glow driver to ignite the glow plug. Nitro fuel is more expensive, but the excitement level outweighs the cost, especially if you have the room to play.
Gas 2-Cycle Boats are generally much larger in size than nitro boats and fuel is more cost effective. The larger engines can be easier to operate, but cost substantially more than nitro and electric. If awesome sound and power of a big water boat is the quest, gas boats are the best choice for their near-realistic look and feel.
Sailboats - If smooth operation and relaxation is key, sailboats offer the lowest maintenance and are very fulfilling with boat-handling skills. Having no power other than the wind, skills must be focused in order to learn how to adjust the sails and take best advantage of changing wind currents. There is nothing like tacking into the wind, while defying wind direction. The Pro Boat Sanibel 36-600 Sailboat (PRB2400) is a fiberglass hull RTR that uses a pull-pull sail winch system to move the sails with great authority.
Here's a few more RC Boat pages: