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Introduction to RC Boats

Getting started with rc boats can be cheap and easy. Here is a concise modeler's online guide to help you choose, build and buy an r/c boat for fun, racing, or simple recreation.


Whether nitro powered or electric rc boats, you will need at least a 2-channel radio control system. Basic r/c systems sell for around $50 USD.

Stick type radio control system. This transmitter is the stick type, where the left (up/down) lever controls the speed and the right (left/right) lever controls the rc boat's direction.

Pistol type radio control system.

Some radio control systems are the pistol type, where the throttle is controlled by the gun type trigger, and the boat's direction controlled by the wheel.

Tip: Most ready to run (RTR) rc boats come complete with a 2-channel radio control system.


Excitement comes from controlling a very fast speed boat. The best choice would be the fast nitro rc boats. Out of the box speed are 25 - 35 mph!

Electric r/c boats are also fast, but without the noise. This means you can play in areas where, because of noise ordinance, nitro boats are not allowed. Out of the box speeds are 15 - 20+ mph.

And if relaxation is what you want, then nothing beats the calm of recreational rc sailboats. It's just you and wind power.


RC boats that are nitro powered can run for long periods of time. A quick refuel and you are back on the waters.

RC boats that are electric powered will usually run for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the battery pack and the boat size. Smaller "toy" boats will usually run for 30 - 45 minutes per battery pack.

Sailboats are only dependent on the batteries for the radio control system, which usually lasts for 30 - 60 minutes per battery charge.

Water Area

Keep in mind where you are going to play. Will you be running in a big lake or river? Or will it be a small area such as a local pond or swimming pool?

If you are fortunate enough to live near a big lake, river, beach, or ocean, then you can choose the nitro and gasoline powered boats. Just make sure that the place allows these models to be run.

But if you are going to run in small spaces, such as a small pond or backyard swimming pool, then it is better to buy electric rc boats.

Tip: It is better and more fun to play with slower boats if the area is small. The fast nitro and gasoline boats can only be enjoyed in places that are at least 100 feet big.

Hull Design

Deep V or mono hull rc boats are best for choppy water conditions and are easy to control. The catamaran and hydroplane hull design are best for intermediate and advanced modelers. These are designed for speed and should be run in calm water conditions.

Brand and Models

There are several companies that produce high quality rc boats. These are CEN, Megatech, Nikko, and Traxxas Corporation. Most of the models are similar in price and quality, so the choice of what brand or model to buy would probably depend on the "look" that you prefer.

Sponsored Links

This concludes the introduction to the hobby. Below are a few more links to help you make a buying decision.

Choosing a Hull Type When Buying RC Boats

RC Sailing Tips

RC Boat Shop - Boats, Jet Skis, Submarines, and Hovercrafts

Buyer's Guide to Electric R/C Boats

Buyer's Guide to Nitro RC Boats

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