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Many different types of boats are available in today's hobby market. Ready-To-Run (RTR) boats are the fastest growing segment of the RC boating industry. Today's RTR boats are nearly the same cost of yesterday's boat kits but do not require the extensive build time. Most RTR have the radio system and engine components pre-installed. RTR boats come in a variety of performance levels and usually include a 2-stick style radio for sailboats and entry-level boats. As both performance and speed increase, the RC boating world has borrowed the pistol-grip style of radio from the RC car market. Regardless of which radio is used, RTR boats are now easier to use, require less maintenance, and can get you on the water in minutes rather than days.

Hull Styles

Hull styles determine how the boat will handle and help to determine the top speed the boat will be capable of. Water conditions can also determine which hull design may work best for you.


V-hull boats are by far the most popular boats on the water due to their ability to adapt to most water conditions. Deep-V boats are rough water crushers that maintain high speed in choppy water. More shallow V-hull boats are more stable in calm water and give a scale appearance as the wake it creates gently rolls off the bow.







Hydroplanes, unlike V-hull designs, generally contact the water with two or more sponsons that help lift the boat out of the water and create higher top speeds due to less contact with the water. They can be broken into several different categories. Catamarans are scale versions of the thrilling high-powered, offshore racers. They handle the roughest water of all hydro-style hulls and maintain fairly high straight-line speeds. 3-point style hydros are typically used for inland racing on calmer water. This exciting style of boat hugs corners at nearly full speed while throwing a 15-foot rooster tail of water spray behind it as it rips across the water. Outriggers are unique to the RC industry and are made strictly for speed; the sponsons are detached from the main hull to help increase stability. Outrigger hulls offer the best blend of straight-line speed and cornering of all hydro style hulls. Considered to be the fastest hull style, Outriggers inherently require more experienced driving skills and are less forgiving when it comes to trimming (adjusting) them. These boat require the smoothest of water conditions but can reach speeds over 90 mph.


Electric boats are the best choice for beginning modelers. While nitro boats require more engine adjustments, maintenance, and cleanup from nitro fuel and oils, electrics are clean and easy to use and offer good performance and more reliability.




Nitro boats offer more performance than electrics because of the increased horsepower- to-weight ratio. Today's Nitro usually have a pull-starter for the engine and require a glow driver to initially ignite the glow plug. Nitro fuel is more expensive, but the excitement level outweighs the cost.


Gas 2-cycle boats are generally much larger in size than nitro boats and fuel is more affordable. The larger engines are easier to operate but cost substantially more. If you're after the awesome sound and power of a big water boat, gas boats are the best choice.


For the best in relaxation, sailboats offer the lowest maintenance and are very fulfilling in regards to boat-handling skills. With no power other than the wind, skills must be honed to learn how to adjust the sails to take best advantage of wind currents. There is nothing like tacking into the wind, seemingly defying the wind direction.







Drive Systems and Propellers

Most entry-level boats use a direct drive system with a submerged propeller. This system is easy to run, as cavitations concerns are minimal. Because the entire prop is under water along with the drive shaft, there is more drag and speeds aren't as fast.


Surface drive systems operate with only half of the prop under water, allowing for larger diameter and pitch choices and lessening water resistance. These systems sometimes incorporate a flexible drive system that requires periodic lubrication.


To optimize performance, propellers should be balanced and sharpened. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines regarding the area of the prop to remove. Propellers have very sensitive angles, similar to the airfoil of an airplane, so modifying the wrong area can compromise its efficiency.

Tools and Accessories

When purchasing your first boat, there are a few additional items to consider. Boat stands usually come as standard equipment with RTR boats. They are used to display the boat and to give prop and rudder clearance when preparing the boat for launch. Though these are functional, they do not always have enough support.


As with all mechanical devices, inevitably some maintenance or repairs must occur.  These 5-piece sets come in the most popular sizes used in RC and are as durable as they are affordable.





No matter which RC boat you choose, you are sure to have an enjoyable experience when you decide on the boat that's right for you.

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