Boating - - TESTS -

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.

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