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RC Boat Basics

Scale Boats, Sailboats, and Powerboats


RC Sailboats / Nick Kinkaid / Creative Commons

RC Sailboats

Nick Kinkaid / Creative Commons / Some rights reserved
High-flying helis and dirt-spewing monster trucks may be the darlings of the RC world, but they've got nothing on the RC boat. Whether gliding gracefully across the pond or kicking up plumes of water in their wake as they shoot from shore to shore, RC boats provide hours of outdoor RC entertainment.

RC boats operate in much the same way as other RC vehicles with a hand-held controller that communicates with an on-board receiver for adjusting steering and speed. There are both toy-grade and hobby-grade RC boats, with the toy-grade being more basic and less powerful than the hobby-grade versions. Many RC boats come in build-your-own-boat (unassembled) kits but Ready-to-Run (RTR) models are becoming more readily available as well.

Scale Boats

While many RC enthusiasts are consumed with thoughts of power and speed, scale boats are more about authenticity and realism -- on a smaller scale. Scale boats, generally built from kits, are meant to be as true as possible to their full-size counterparts whether that's a sailboat, a powerboat, an ocean liner, or a battleship. Appearance and scale performance are more important than being the fastest, most tricked out boat on the water.
AquaCraft Bristol Bay Ready-to-Run Fishing Boat {Buy Direct) is an example of a display-quality, electric RC scale boat.


The main power for a sailboat is the wind. If you can master sailing, the RC sailboat can be a good beginner RC boat because there is generally less maintenance required -- no motors or engines to deal with. But sailing is different than flying or driving (on land or water) so you need to consider whether or not it's a skill you are willing to master. RC sailboats are not necessarily slow either. There are both sport and racing models.
The AquaCraft Paradise (Buy Direct) is a 26 inch long, 50 inch tall ready-to-run RC sailboat.


This is the type of RC boat that attracts beginners and it's probably the largest portion of the RC boat hobby. Powered by motors or engines, there are sport boats and racing boats. The sport boats are fun and relatively easy to operate. And because they aren't primarily about speed they are a good choice if your only body of water is a large swimming pool or small pond. Racing boats require more skill because ease of operation is sacrificed in order to get more speed from the boat.
The Pro Boat Classic Runabout (Buy Direct) and Traxxas Villain EX Deep V (Buy Direct) are two very different styles of sport boat while designs like the Pro Boat Miss Elam (Buy Direct) -- replica of the ABRA top speed record holder -- are built for racing.

Like RC cars and aircraft, RC powerboats come with electric motors, nitro engines, or gas-powered engines. Choose the kind of motor or engine you want.

The RC boat models named and linked to from this article are intended as examples of the different RC boat options, not as endorsements for any specific model or RC boat manufacturer.

Everything About Radio Controlled (RC) Vehicles
FAQs:Frequently Asked Questions About RC Vehicles, Answered
Basics:Types, Key Parts, and Operating RC Vehicles
Buying an RC:How to Choose the Right Radio Controlled Vehicle
Repairs & Upgrades:Maintaining, Fixing, and Modifying RC Vehicles

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