THIS DESIGN, COUPLED WITH STRATEGIC PLACEMENT AND SHAPE OF THE LIFTING STRAKES AND SPRAY RAILS, GIVES FLAT CORNERING AND STRONG ACCELERATION ALONG WITH TOP SPEED.
Manitou’s designs are easily recognized, due to the stylized fiberglass deck fencing and seating arrangements — not to mention the gorgeous paint jobs. But it’s underneath where the design, setup and rigging produce the speed and handling characteristics that make these ’toons favorites among the performance and show-off fanatics. Manitou VP of Operations Dave Curtis designed and patented Manitou’s V-Toon hull design, drawing on his extensive snowmobile/ motocross racing and performance pleasureboating background. Manitou employs a larger (27-inch-diameter) center tube between the two smaller 25-inchdiameter outboard tubes. This arrangement effectively presents a V shape to the water, which delivers a ride akin to that of a V-hulled runabout. This design, coupled with strategic placement and shape of the lifting strakes and spray rails, produces flat cornering and strong acceleration, along with enhanced top speed handling. Manitou started rigging twin-engine hulls in 2017 with up to 600 hp. Recent packages with twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards have seen speeds of 73plus mph with factory stock rigging.
PlayCraft pontoons, even the lower-cost Hampton series models, are all designed with performance in mind. With a single Mercury Racing 400R outboard, the 2685 Hampton hit 78 mph at LOTO in 2017, with Dorris’ wife, Carolyn, handling the driving chores. PlayCraft’s most popular rig is its 27-foot Xtreme with a single Mercury Racing Verado 350 or 400R outboard; speeds with the 350 are in the mid- to high 50s, while the 400R tops 60 mph. The latest popular package is the “10 Wide” (10-footwide) hull; at lengths between 30 and 36 feet and fitted with twin 350 Verados, speeds are in the low to mid-60s; with twin 400Rs, these boats run just under 70 mph. PlayCraft employs stepped running surfaces; much like performance offshore racers, the steps relieve water pressure under the sponsons and aerate the water, providing performance gains from 2 to nearly 5 mph (depending on the number, size and shape of the steps) over a conventional
nonstepped ’toon. PlayCraft’s pontoons are not round, like many others. They are U-shaped with added lifting strakes to boost speed and offer turning and handling similar to V-bottom hulls.
All builders clearly recognize the recent recharging of the horsepower race. Manitou’s Van Wagenen notes that “outboards continue to get larger and more powerful, and at Manitou, we’re working on stronger and better materials and designs to hold up to the increased weight, torque and power, as well as increased potential speeds.”
PlayCraft’s Dorris takes a conservative approach: He notes that while 400, 500 and larger-horsepower engines will become more commonplace in the near future, PlayCraft is testing all boats — and has been for a long time — with full decking, furniture, arches, etc., to ensure that models will perform well in realworld conditions. “If a customer demands an extreme setup, such as triple engines, we will do that only on a much larger — 30-plus-footlong minimum — hull package,” he adds.
So, will 100 mph pontoons soon be commonplace at your local lake? “We have pretty much approached the wall as far as speedenhancing performance designs are concerned,” says South Bay’s Greg Barsoda.
Despite rapidly increasing horsepower and torque from larger engines, boat manufacturers thankfully recognize the need for a safe and sane approach to design for speed, as opposed to chasing every last mile per hour with no respect for what can happen if the design, execution and setup aren’t spot-on. So, get ready to enjoy some speed on the water, in a boat that’s not designed in a “speed at all costs” manner. Finally, here’s some heavy metal that’s music to our ears.