The Fastest Single Engine Outboard Boats You Can Buy Right Now
At Wave to Wave, our favorite boats are smaller, single engine sport boats. This covers a large spectrum because some boats are semi offshore, some are lightweight lake hot rods and some are somewhere in the middle. Most people like something that can do it all, handle some chop, get some decent speed in a straight line; while bringing the family along. In this article I want to look at V-hull outboard boats 22 feet and under that closely fit the profile I described above; the small, do it all, family sport boat. Even though performance boats are not as plentiful as they were in the 70s and 80s, there are some incredible boats available today. I wanted to focus only on outboards here. Modern outboards on these small efficient hulls have many advantages; they are low maintenance, less costly to buy, are very efficient and can be incredibly fast out of the box.
Allison, GrandSport 2003 - Website
The XS-2003 Allison GrandSport is the gold standard for small single engine family boats. Allison makes a slightly smaller boat, the SS-2001 SuperSport but the GrandSport offers a little more room and usability. Both are exceptionally fast. Probably the fastest production boats available in this category. Allison has been a pioneer in using high quality materials too. They have had full composite construction for a very long time and they have bullet proof transoms, by integrating aluminum in them. In racing, Allison is obviously well known and revolutionized the light, pad bottom design that has been emulated by many. With a steep deadrise, pronounced notch and aggressive strakes, the GrandSport gets incredible lift. I believe Darris Allison once said he was concerned with making not the fastest boats but the most efficient boats. With a Grand Sport, you can run a stock 175 Pro XS and be in the high 80s (MPH). The small Allisons are designed to run lighter engines, plenty have older Mercury Racing and other race engines that can push the hulls way over 100 MPH, easily. Like any ultra light boat, you have to know how to drive it. Any boat running that far out of the water at those speeds has inherent risks. But, running with a stock 150 or 175 that weighs around 400 Lbs is ideal, making for a super efficient and a fun family hot rod. With newer technology they sip fuel. As a test, Allison once fitted the SS-2001 with a 90 Honda and it went 60 MPH. The radical styling differentiates them and actually has the passengers sitting deep in the cockpit for a very secure feeling. After all these years, not much can touch a GrandSport flying around the lake. And despite popular belief, they can handle some rough water. The company was founded in 1955 by Paul Allison and is run by Darris Allison to this day.
Airing it out, not a beginner boat with big power on it.
Tuff Marine, 21 Tuff - Website
The small Canadian builder makes 4 hulls, the 16, 21, 24 and 28. Tuff is a custom builder so you can have it built to spec and have any colors you like. Although rare to see in the wild in the United States, the boats are known to be built to a very high standard and have built custom lightweight carbon layup boats. The 21 is a reworked George Linder designed, Challenger hull and has some notable features like Tuffs unique deck. Sleeker than the original, with a swept back faring and no bow cable. Mark Weigel, the owner of Tuff, also changed the hull, adding a notch and widening the pad. Generally, the Tuffs are faster than the original Challengers, due to those revisions and being lighter. A light build 21 with a stock Evinrude 250 HO will go about 94 MPH. That is really quick and you can seat 5 people comfortably and add windscreens to make it a pretty good family boat as well. Not available as a bowrider, pure performance boats only, which I like. I have seen them in person and they are one of my favorite all around boats today. Mark Weigel brings a wealth of racing experience to the table and it shows in the boats, he and his wife Dana raced and won in several classes, including a world championship in a triple engine Skater.
Light builds allow the efficient hull to surpass 100 MPH with 300 HP.
Nordic, 21 Crossfire - Website
Nordic makes a consumer version of their 21 ski race hull and it is a very unique boat. You get the incredible quality and custom touches of Nordic packed into a small hull that can handle today's big outboards and can perform in any environment you want to put it in. The Crossfire is the same hull that competes in the Catalina ski race with an insane Mercury Racing 1350 HP. If you want one of the coolest 21 outboards around, this is it. Nordic uses a narrow pad to keep it stable, yet the narrow beam ensures it can slice through anything. Running any of todays performance 250 HP engines would make this a sweet little package, it can handle a 300 if you want to step it up.
Nordic has won several ski races with the same 21 hull. The consumer version layup is a little different.
Progression Boats, 22 - Website
Legendary New York boat builder, Progression, has been crafting some of the most pure SOB style race boats for a long time. I remember seeing the Mercury Racing catalogue in the early 90s and seeing a 22 Progression featured. Ever since then it has been a dream boat. Progression uses a very aggressive design, with a narrow pad, a deadrise that goes from 24 degrees to 23, with full length strakes. Known to be a beast in rough water, the sharp looking 22 can still fly, around the high 90s with a 300 and in the 70s with a stock 200. The lines of the boat are straight and square giving it a lean and menacing look. Not many other boats are as proven as this boat when it comes to performing in real deal rough water conditions. If you have the means and you boat where it can get nasty, this is your boat.
Checkmate Boats, 21 Pulsare - Website
From Bucyrus Ohio, the longtime boat builder has been a staple in the family sport boat category since the 60s. Checkmates have the family sport boat image down but founder Bill Combs was a racer for a long time and carried some unique hull designs into some of his popular boats like the early MX and V-Mate boats, and the later Starflite. Checkmates most performance orientated hull now is the 21 Pulsare. They make a smaller 20 bowrider and an 18 called the 1850 BR but they don't come in closed bow versions anymore and are not quite as capable. The 19 degree deadrise hull utilizes a pad and full running strakes that are quite deep. I have a 21 Pulsare, the boat tracks incredibly well and handles great. With a stock 200 HP, they can go about 70 MPH and with a 300 XS, they are a legit 95 MPH boat. That is getting serious for a boat with a decent beam, that is not ultra light and can double duty as a family hauler. Custom colors in the gel give it a nice finish and can be upgraded quite a bit from standard form. Although the design is great, it has been around since the early 90s, the build quality could be improved. Checkmate had some quality issues in the 90s and 2000s. My transom did eventually go after almost 20 years, but overall, it is a compelling hull for a good value and still looks amazing. A little more attention to detail on the finish inside of the hull and transom would have been the difference. The boat is fully balsa cored, so it is solid overall and around 1,300 Lbs. which is ideal for a family sport boat this size. Readily available and good deals on used ones make this a popular choice.
A good family sport boat that can handle a 300, if set up properly can get close to 100 MPH.
Among the boats listed, Sutphen may have the most interesting history. They have a thorough race pedigree and make boats custom to order. Sutphen pioneered the 26 degree deep-V on their larger offshore race boats with great success. The 21 made now has the classic Sutphen lines with the wind fairing looking like the bigger race boats. The hull has a small pad and full length strakes near the chine. It is light enough to be fast but can still handle waves nicely for a 21, designed with a 20 degree deadrise. Sutphen custom paints their boats any color you want and custom finishes include ultra durable lonseal flooring, PPI interior, recessed hardware, Livorsi guages and after market steering. Power it with a 200 to 250 for great value and performance but you can opt for a 300 XS, which gets you flying. Low 70s with a 200 and into the 90s with the 300.
Apache, Hustler, Lavey Craft and other
There are other boats around but as far as active builders, those are the ones that are active. I believe Hustler will still make their 21 and Apache may still make a Scout for you but you may have to sell your kids, which may not be a bad idea actually. Other builders seem to be inactive. Rage Powerboats, in Connecticut, may be working on a revised 22, similar to an Activator but can’t confirm. Lavey Craft makes a nice looking 21 XCS, not the fastest among these boats.