Serial boat owner and adrenaline junkie Elliott Maurice picks out 6 of the fastest boats available on the market…
A rarefied segment of the boating industry is dedicated to creating some of the fastest boats in the world. They’re the Bugatti Chirons and Koenigseggs of the seas. Builders of these boats work to extreme tolerances, using exotic materials and construction methods usually found in the aviation industry.
Of course, at this level, low volume production and the aforementioned construction methods combine to create an exclusive product with an even more exclusive price tag. These super high-performance boats will be hugely impractical for most purposes, when compared to a typical leisure vessel, and the skipper will need significant ability to get the most out of it.
In reality any boat capable of speeds more than 60 knots (69mph) is very fast indeed. Given the hugely changeable nature of water compared to tarmac, this is akin to driving a car at around 120mph.
Most of the fastest boats use race-derived hulls with roots dating back to the 1980s when the ‘Go-Fast boat’ became synonymous with the glamor and excesses of the time. TV shows like Miami Vice, with Don Johnson catching drug dealers in his iconic Wellcraft 39 Scarab, helped make these boats extremely popular.
In reality, high performance offshore boats of this type were extensively used by cartels to run drugs into Miami, with the DEA commissioning a fleet of Blue Thunder powercats to help combat the problem.
Fast forward to today, some of the fastest boats are capable of exceeding 180mph with specialist engines and are in fact faster than the boats in Class 1 Offshore racing, where horsepower is limited to twin 1,100hp.
This list is by no means exhaustive – there are also a number of phenomenal offerings out there from legendary builders like Nortech, Sunsation, Donzi and Fountain.
6 of the fastest boats you can buy
Goldfish 46 Bullet
World’s fastest RIB
Top speed: 85 knots (99 mph)
Starting with one of the most revered names in the world of performance RIBs, Norwegian yard Goldfish Boats build exceptionally capable open water powerboats. They are also the fastest Ridged Inflatable Boats on the market today.
The 46 Bullet is the fastest of them all – with triple 500hp V10 Mercury outboards 85 knots is achievable. Around $1.2 million will put you in the driving seat of this exquisitely built boat with a carbon superstructure, state of the art electronics and custom racing seating for six.
Perfectly capable of cruising for hours in excess of 60 knots in challenging conditions, the Goldfish is capable of holding its own in rough water against almost any offshore powerboat challenger.
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World’s fastest production monohull
Top speed: 156 knots (180 mph)
At 50ft 1in LOA and only 9ft in the beam, this rocket ship is a pure raceboat in design, with five steps in the hull and staggered engines to keep the driver as close to the centerline as possible.
At the 2023 Lake of the Ozarks shootout an SV50 with enclosed cockpit and twin 2,000hp engines ran 180.47 mph on a 1km run making it the fastest production monohull on the water.
More impressive is that a standard boat with twin Mercury Racing 1,350/1,550hp can easily top 140mph. However, this is a boat requiring an exceptional skill to drive, with handling characteristics as aggressive as its outright speed suggests. Starting at around $900,000 the SV50 is the ultimate in its class.
MTI Pleasure 52
Top speed: 156 knots (180mph)
Price: $2 million
Another brand known for its offshore race winning boats, MTI produces nothing but high-performance boats. From its V series center consoles to its outboard-powered cats, this semi-custom builder doesn’t make a boat that does less than 80mph.
The 52 Pleasure is the fastest of the breed, with a full race version available using the same hull. With twin 1,750hp Mercury racing engines, this boat can achieve over 180mph.
With full custom options, MTI have even built a Lamborghini-inspired 48 footer to match the owner’s Lamborghini Aventador. Fitted with Aventador style tail lights and dashboard, the boat even had a matching covered starter button.
Needless to say, all this glamour doesn’t come cheap. You can expect a starting price of around $2 million for this level of exotica.
The most legendary go-fast boat
Top speed: 113 knots (130mph)
Price: $2.2 million
No go-fast boat comes with as much pedigree as the Cigarette. Founded by the legendary Don Aronow, Cigarette Boats dominated offshore racing worldwide for over a decade, so much so that the brand name has become synonymous with offshore racers.
Still built in Florida, the brand has development ties with Mercedes AMG and Mercury Racing alike. As the largest high-performance boat in the range, the 515 offers peerless attention to detail and quality alike.
It is not the fastest production monohull, with a top speed of just over 130mph achievable with twin staggered 1,350/1,550hp Mercury Racing engines. It is, however, the best riding and one of the most capable offshore powerboats for handling rough water.
Its carbon fiber, vacuum bagged construction helps to justify its $2.2 million starting price and above all, it is the ultimate Cigarette boat.
Top speed: 108 knots (125mph)
Mystics founder John Cosker is responsible for some of the fastest offshore raceboats in the world. Throttling his American Ethanol 50ft Catamaran, he hit 204mph this year setting the record on the Lake of the Ozarks sprint course.
Mystic will custom build a race winning boat for you on request, however Mystic now has a range of three high performance center consoles, with the C4000 outboard cat being the fastest production boat in the range, equipped with twin 500hp Mercury Racing outboards.
The C4000 will top 125mph and cruise in the upper 80s. With a bias on cruising comfort, the C4000 is a tuned down version of the Mystic race boat, with the tunnel compression reduced to hold the boat down rather than create the less controllable lift of the 180mph capable race hull.
The engines are also mounted on hydraulic jack plates to further trim the hull and keep the boat glued down in rough water. At just under 44ft the luxuriously appointed Mystic C4000 can offer performance akin to a light aircraft over distance – think Miami to Bimini in under an hour in the right conditions.
The Mystic is designed to run at speed confidently by most owners without the extreme characteristics of boats at this performance level. Options like a full cockpit sunshade, premium stereo and open transom make the C4000 as comfortable for lounging at a sandbar as it is running at blistering speed in open ocean.
Midnight Express 43 Open
The fastest center console boat
Top speed: 78 knots (90mph)
The center console market has exploded over the past few years, with a ceneter console now available for almost any boating application. The high-performance end of the spectrum has a handful of sublime builders.
However, the fastest arguably goes to Midnight Express 43, when running 5x 500hp V10 outboards. Capable of over 90mph, the 43 can also accommodate up to 20 people in comfort and 9 people at speed in luxurious quilted ultra leather bolster seats.
So good is the hull on the Midnight Express that Miami-Dade County DEA used the 39ft version as its high speed response boats. With its all-carbon superstructure and air-conditioned helm, the 43 is an extremely desirable boat, and over 100 units of this $1 million dollar boat have been sold to date.