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Fastest Boats in the World: Top 5

Updated on September 5, 2018
Savio Dawson profile image

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast are his passion, and he writes about them on many sites.


It’s obvious that we land-lubbers would normally think that the fastest thing must be on four wheels and must be plying on something called a road. How about boats? – Nah!! But here’s the surprising thing – boats can actually give a tough fight to cars and in fact, the fastest boat is faster than a car.

Never thought that that was possible, correct? Just to be technically right, boats can be further classified as hydroplane, catamaran, yacht, sail-boats, submarines, etc. but for simplicity, we will keep it as boats and talk about the ones that sail above water. A separate article on submarines, navy ships, civilian ships and aircraft carriers and others are available for readers interested to take a look at them.

So for the moment let’s look at these speed boats.

1. Spirit of Australia

Now any amount of mention and detailing of this boat will do no justice to its maker or the boat itself. Firstly, this is a boat that was created in someone’s garage, which then went on to break the speed record. Not only that but also the record itself was created in 1978 and stands to date!! What?? No big-name-maker-of-boats worth his salt surpassed that record?? No, none!

So, the man who built the boat was Ken Warby and his boat was a jet-powered-hydroplane named Spirit of Australia. The world record was achieved on Blowering Dam Lake, Australia, on 8th October 1978, an achievement recognized by Guinness Book. Here are the stats:

  • Boat: Spirit of Australia
  • Speed Record: 511.09 kmph [317.5 mph or 276 knots]
  • Engine: Westinghouse J34 Jet Engine
  • Record Created: 8th October 1978

Ken Warby and the Spirit of Australia

There were speculations that Ken went ahead and achieved 300 knots on his boat later that year but then there was no official record of the same. Also, Ken and his son, Dave, are now attempting to build Spirit of Australia 2. Let’s see what comes out of that effort whenever it does come. Only this time they have competition from both Britain and America.

So, watch this space!

2. Bluebird K7

For some reason, speed records in the boat category go back in time than forward. Just when you thought that the fastest boat was built a long time ago, here comes the second fastest which is even older. The K7 was piloted by the speed legend Donald Campbell who had the unique distinction of holding both the land and water speed record in the same year. That distinction still stands.

Speaking of water record alone, Campbell created a new world record of 276 mph in his K7 in 1964, breaking his own records created between 1955 -1959. The K7 was continuously modified since 1955 to its most powerful form in 1964. Campbell, though, met his unfortunate demise when he attempted the last run in his K7 in 1967. His watery abode was the place of the crash and remained so until 12th September 2001 when, both, the K7 and Campbell’s body, were recovered. The news, however, remained muted because of the coverage of an unprecedented tragedy just a day before the recovery. What was the tragedy? - 9/11.

A bit about the boat:

  • Boat: Bluebird K7
  • Speed Record: 444.71 kmph [276.33 mph or 240.12 knots]
  • Engine: Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl axial-flow turbojet engine
  • Record Created: 31st December 1964

Bluebird K7 - Last Run and Fatal Crash

For those interested, Campbell’s land record was achieved in a Bluebird CN7 (land-rocket) on 17th July 1964 doing a 403.10 mph.

3. Problem Child

Here’s a top fuel hydroplane which is a boat capable of a drag race. Of course, this race would be on the water. Problem Child is the fastest in its category of boats, although it features as the third fastest in the overall list. It hits the top speed of 262 kmph in just 3.36 seconds.

Now, what you all will not realize is that achieving the top speed in such a short time is unparalleled. As a comparison, the record for fastest run to 300 kmph is held by Hennessey Venom GT at 13.63 seconds (not even 400 kmph) and the fastest 0-400-0 kmph record is held by Koenigsegg Agera RS at 36 odd seconds. None of these road speed cars come anywhere close to doing 420 kmph in 3.5 seconds. In fact, they will be just about doing 100 kmph in that time.

  • Boat: Problem Child
  • Speed Record: 420.74 kmph [261.33 mph or 227.18 knots]
  • Engine: 8000 HP hemi V8
  • Record Created: 2013

Problem Child Drag Race

Problem Child is owned by Eddie Knox and is a regular participant in the Lucas Oil Racing circuit.

4. Spirit of Qatar

This is the fastest catamaran out there and fourth on the all-time speed list. The record that the boat created in 2014 was so good that it was touted to be on the top list for some good time to come. Here are the stats:

  • Boat: Spirit of Qatar
  • Speed Record: 392.84 kmph [244 mph or 212.12 knots]
  • Engine: Turbojet
  • Record Created: 2014

Spirit of Qatar - Insane Speed

5. South Bay 925 CR

The South Bay 925 CR is the fastest Pontoon Boat. Who would have thought that someone would actually make a Pontoon Boat go so fast; fast enough to make it to the top 5 list. South Bay is known to come out with such beauties which are luxury with performance. The fastest of the South Bays belong to Brad Rowland.

  • Boat: South Bay 925 CR
  • Speed Record: 183.54 kmph [114 mph or 99.10 knots]
  • Engine: 3 Mercury Promax 300X Outboard Engines
  • Record Created: 2016

South Bay World Record Run

The speed gap between the fourth and fifth fastest boat is quite large and chances are more boats may be seen filling this space in the future. That said, even the current existing lots may be challenged. Things would be exciting as we go forward.

Final Words

That completes our top five list and unlike most machines made by humans, boats are the only ones with stable positions in their rankings. They don’t appear to be trading positions very soon. That said, look out for the competition to 'Spirit of Australia' from Britain, U.S., Belgium and, well, from Ken Warby himself.

Hope readers enjoyed the list! Adios!

Which one was your favorite boat?

See results

© 2018 Savio Koman


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