What’s the Fastest Power Boat in the World?

Speed boat spirit of Australia

Robertsf2012 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Across many walks of life, human beings are obsessed with speed. Some people love the thrill of watching motor vehicle racing. Others try to max out their speed on a bicycle. Still others prefer watching the Olympic games, witnessing races on foot and in a variety of other sports.

But for those of us who love being on the water, there’s nothing better than a super-fast power boat.

Power boats have been around as early as the internal combustion engine, which rose to prominence in the 19th Century. But as you can imagine, countless innovations have transformed not only how power boats look and function, but also how fast they can go when unimpeded.

Whether you’re in the market for a new power boat of your own, hoping to reach new speeds on the water, or are just fascinated by the thrill of seeking speed on open ocean, you’ll want to know: what’s the fastest power boat in the world?

How Fast Is Normal?

First, let’s establish a metric for how fast a “normal” boat can go. Top cruising speed for a yacht is something like 21 to 23 knots, or around 24 to 26 mph, while most yachts go much slower when actually “cruising.” If you look at some of the most powerful and popular power boats available to the public today, many of them can achieve a top speed close to, or even exceeding 100 mph—four times as fast as top cruising speed for a yacht—but even that speed pales in comparison to what some of the fastest power boats in the world have been able to achieve.

The Spirit of Australia: Fastest Power Boat in the World

The Guinness World Record for the top speed achieved on water is officially 275.97 knots, or over 317 mph, set by a craft called the Spirit of Australia back on October 8, 1978. It remains the record to this day, more than 40 years later. The record-setting run was at Blowering Dam Lake, in New South Wales, Australia. On a similar run in November 20, it is claimed that the craft was able to reach a better top speed at the same location, at nearly 345 mph. However, this is considered an “unofficial” speed.

As you might imagine, the Spirit of Australia was specifically engineered to set a water speed record, and was not commercially available for people to use when casually cruising on the ocean. It was designed (and operated) by a man named Ken Warby, who was able to engineer the vessel in his own backward.

The secret to the Spirit of Australia’s power was a set of Westinghouse J34 jet engines, which as the name suggests, were also used for aircraft and fighter jets. Together, they were able to generate 3,000 horsepower. Currently, the Spirit of Australia is retired, on permanent display at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

In the years (and decades) following Warby’s world record, there have been many world record attempts by other boating manufacturers and speed enthusiasts. However, none have been able to break the record set back in 1978.

Other Top Speed Contenders

It’s also worth noting some of the other power boats that have either come close to approaching the Spirit of Australia’s record, or have established a reputation of their own.

boat on truck

Sheppane at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

For example, there’s the Bluebird K7, one of the oldest pioneers in the history of speedboats. Helmed by Donald Campbell, the Bluebird set 7 separate speed run records between July 1955 and December 1964. Even back in 1964, this vessel was able to set a record by traveling 276 mph on the water. The story has a sad ending, however, as Campbell lost his life while attempting to set an even faster record, at 300 mph, back in 1967. The wreckage of the Bluebird was not recovered until a period between 2000 and 2001. Those remnants are currently preserved at the Ruskin Museum in Northern England.

There’s also the humorously named Problem Child, a more modern power boat that is currently the world’s fastest nitro drag boat. Sporting an incredibly powerful 8,000 horsepower engine, the Problem Child can reach a top speed of 262 mph in a matter of 3.5 seconds—which exceeds the performance of even speed-oriented land vehicles. The Problem Child is widely regarded as the fastest machine on water today, with consistent speeds of more than 250 mph.

Not far behind it is the Mystic Powerboats C5000 Turbine, powered by twin 1850 horsepower engines for a total power of 3,700 HP. Cruising speeds of 150 mph are easy for this boat, but its highest record speed is 250 mph. Even more impressive, the Mystic Powerboats C5000 Turbine can host up to 6 passengers—though it may not be able to reach those record-approaching top speeds with extra passengers on board.

Buying a Power Boat of Your Own

Unfortunately, most of the record-setting vessels in this article aren’t available for purchase; instead, they were designed as individual crafts with a singular purpose. However, there are hundreds of power boats available to quench your thirst for speed on the water—and many of them are capable of reaching speeds close to, or even exceeding 100 mph.

If you’re interested in getting a power boat for speed performance, make sure you get to know the variables that can affect your speed in the open water, including the brand of the manufacturer, the type of engine, the shape of the craft, and the carrying capacity.

Are you interested in getting a super-fast power boat of your own? Check out our selection of power boats and yachts for sale, from dozens of different manufacturers. Buy new or used, from individuals and manufacturers all over the world to find your best possible fit!

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