How can you get the best out of your powerboat ?

To get the best results from your powerboat, you need to know how to drive it properly. Whether you’re talking about onboard equipment or hull and motor maintenance, it’s the pilot’s skill and experience that makes all the difference and let’s you squeeze that extra knot into the boat’s top speed.

Choosing the right powerboat with optimal integration

Powerboat design leaves nothing to chance as it impacts directly on the boat’s performance. Successful powerboat design is the fruit of years-long collaboration between the boat manufacturer and its partner engine manufacturer, who work together to develop the best possible hull-motor fit to very precise technical specifications. Among its partner engine manufacturers, BENETEAU cites in particular the Japanese manufacturer Suzuki, renowned for producing powerful and highly reliable motors.

Our contribution to the process takes place two to three years prior to the marketing of a new BENETEAU boat” explains Laurent Lepicier, Technical Manager at Suzuki France. “Working closely with the boat designers, we identify minimum and maximum power values and the best-fit mechanical layout, such as whether to include easy sea access, depending on the boat’s intended purpose” 

Once we have completed the 3D studies, the selected technical solutions are trialled at sea to allow us to fine-tune certain design details, such as the height of the motor, or the pitch and diameter of the boat’s propeller.

A streamlined hullform designed to maximise boat performance

The design of a powerboat hull impacts directly on the boat’s performance, pace and agility at sea. When buying a boat, it is absolutely essential to choose a design that reflects the owner’s sailing philosophy, i.e. whether they are looking for a sports activity or prefer cruising. A pronounced V-shaped hull, like the one seen on the Flyer, ensures a boat with a playful character that is built for speed. Conversely, boats with flatter hulls and a wider V-shape, like the Antares, are more suited to “week-ender” trips or longer cruises. The latter have greater stability when at anchor and can plane at lower speeds.

The Flyer 7 SPACEdeck's V-shaped hull is accentuated for a sportier ride.

BENETEAU has made hullform design a key development focus in terms of maximising powerboat performance. With this in mind, the company’s designers have developed the AirStep® hullform, a design derived from studies of “stepped” seaplane appendages that facilitate their take-off. This architecture creates a stream of bubbles below the hullform, increasing the speed and allowing faster time to plane.

We have added a channel at the rear of the hull that increases this stream of bubbles” adds Patrick Tableau, Manager of the Engine Architecture Unit at Beneteau. “This significantly reduces friction between the hull and the water’, thus increasing boat performance. This extra power gain can increase the boat’s speed, or enable it to take heavy loads. In addition, this optimised performance considerably reduces the boat’s fuel consumption. “

Using trim tabs and flaps for enhanced speed and comfort

Just like a car, getting the most out of your powerboat means paying close attention to the boat’s handling. Very often, people don’t bother to use the trim tabs, but this should be as natural as using your car’s indicators. There’s a good reason why trim tab control buttons are placed directly below the throttle control! The trim tab modifies the propeller's thrust angle in relation to the hull; this trims the boat, thus optimising both speed and comfort. 

A negative trim lowers the bow and gets the boat off to a good start by optimising propeller thrust. When making high-speed turns the trim keeps the propeller under water, thus making it easier for the pilot to control the boat. A negative trim also maintains the boat’s comfort in rough seas by limiting hull impacts when facing waves in a head sea.

A neutral trim is best when sailing at cruising speed and helps control fuel consumption.

A positive trim lifts the front of the boat, minimising friction between the hull and the water thereby increasing the speed and making it easier to change direction. When sailing with a back wind and with the waves, a positive trim also provides greater comfort by easing the bow and reducing hull impacts.

Powerboat flaps extend trim tab action and correct the boat’s longitudinal trim and list. These two flaps extend outward from the hullform and can be operated simultaneously to lower the front of the boat for faster time to plane, while also providing greater comfort in rough seas by limiting hull impact on facing waves. When operated separately, they reduce the rolling of the boat in beam seas.

While the latest boat designs tend to favour automated trim tab/flap operation, they can still be adjusted in real time. It is therefore essential for the pilot to have faith in how they feel the boat is handling if they want to maximise its performance.

Remember to keep your powerboat’s maintenance and overhauls up to date!

To get the best out of your boat, it is vital to ensure that the hull and motor are regularly maintained and in perfect condition. This will also have a direct effect on your fuel consumption. A lack of regular hull maintenance will lead to greater friction with the water, which can reduce a boat’s top speed by up to 5 knots… with the added disadvantage of using an extra litre of fuel for every knot lost.

Likewise, regular maintenance of the outboard motor is also vital for optimal boat performance, and for preventing breakdowns at sea. The motor’s lifetime will also depend on strict adherence to the manufacturer’s recommended overhaul schedule. If the boat cannot be used under normal conditions during the winter months, it is strongly recommended to winter it in an enclosed area. It is not sufficient to simply run the motor in port when conditions are not right for sailing; this is because the motor needs time to reach its optimal operating temperature to avoid damage due to poor lubrication. Wintering the boat also prevents the build-up of condensation in fluids, which can adversely affect boat reliability.

Published on 12.04.2021