Whether you crave action or relaxation, you'll enjoy radio-controlled boating. There's nothing quite as soothing as gliding your scale R/C sailboat across a pond, or for full-throttle excitement, you can race a nitro- or electric-powered deep vee or hydro! Many of Tower Hobbies' most popular model boats already come prebuilt. To start making waves, just add water!

Kits, ARRs & RTRs

Boat CatagoriesFor the craftsman who wants building satisfaction, a wood Kit has no equal. Projects range from simple skiffs to richly detailed masterpieces. Fiberglass and plastic, however, are excellent alternatives for those who value speed and ease more highly. There are fewer parts; hulls and decks are often pre-joined. ARR (Almost-Ready-to-Run) models may be as much as 80% pre-built and include a motor or engine. RTR (Ready-to-Run) boats add to ARR convenience by including a radio, radio gear, batteries and required items. Assembly can take as long as 1-2 hours – or as little as 5 minutes!

If you enjoy boat racing but don't know how or where to start, organizations such as the North American Model Boat Association and the International Model Power Boat Association offer plenty of helpful hints. Forums – like and – are another great way to get information and connect with other boaters. When you visit Web sites like these, always try to be on the lookout for exciting announcements, videos, membership info and more!

Boat Design Made Easy

A sailboat gets its power from the force of the wind. Large sails catch the wind and move the boat in the same manner as a full-size sailboat. R/C sailboats range in size from less than twenty inches in length to 40 inches long. A sailboat's mast can tower up to 79 inches (over 6 feet) above the water!

Airboats/Swamp BuggiesAirboats/Swamp Buggies
An airboat is powered by an airplane engine and a prop that's mounted high above the stern. Hull bottoms are flat (or nearly so); steering power may come from a water rudder, vanes on the fan, or both.
Powered Scale BoatsPowered Scale Boats
A scale boat refers to any Kit, ARR or RTR that reproduces virtually every detail of a full-size boat. While Kits are generally preferred by expert builders, there are also many ARR and RTR Scale Boats available for beginners to enjoy right out of the box. Designed primarily for looks instead of speed, common scale boat features usually include realistic "extras" like planked decks, chrome or brass deck fittings...even cloth flags and ladders!

Powered Sport BoatsPowered Sport Boat
Sport boats are the most popular kind of R/C boat – who doesn't want to slice through the surf at blazing-fast speeds? Thankfully, today's R/C world offers many safe, exciting ways to get out on the water.

Racing Boats:

Racing boats are the most popular kind of R/C boat – who doesn't want to slice through the surf at blazing-fast speeds? Thankfully, today's R/C world offers many safe, exciting ways to get out on the water.
Electrics are perfect for beginners because they're easy to control, easy to maintain and the most affordable. All are virtually ready-to-run (RTR), with a Brushed or a more powerful Brushless Motor, radio system, battery and more, so you can get out on the water almost as soon as you open the box. No matter what boat you choose, remember that's it's all about having fun!
Glow, or Nitro-Powered, models are ideal for thrill-seekers looking for a fun way to "step up" their boating skills. Nitro boats can range from easy-to-enjoy RTRs to do-it-yourself kits. Due to their high-performance design, they are more difficult to control and more expensive to maintain than electrics. Yet, many boaters find that all the extra effort is worth it when they reach the finish line first!
Gas-Powered models are the largest, most powerful of all racing boats. Even if you choose an RTR, their 2-stroke engines are more complicated than what you find on a nitro or an electric. However, they are actually less expensive to operate and maintain than a nitro boat. Note: before considering a gas boat, we suggest that you not only know how to keep it in control, but also know how to make any repairs or modifications.

Pick Your Power

While wind power is the only choice for sailboats, powered boats may be run by an electric motor, a glow engine or a gas engine.

Clean and quiet, electric power is ideal for first-time modelers. A brushless electric motor and a rechargeable NiMH or LiPo battery can make a racing boat run for around 4-8 minutes and hit 10-20+ mph speeds. Boats with a single motor and battery are the norm. However, twin-d boats are also available.

More experienced boaters may prefer the added punch of glow (nitro) power. Displacements may range from as little as .049 cubic inches, to as much as .90 cubic inches!

2-stroke gas engines are used to provide larger racing boats with the power they need to deliver thrilling, high-speed fun. Generally, they are around the size of a power plant that you'd find in a leaf blower or a weed trimmer. They're also more complex and require more maintenance than an electric motor or a nitro engine. However, in the long run, they typically cost less to refuel and operate than a nitro engine.

How do you know what boat to choose?

Below are some proven electric boats that customers have told us gave them an excellent start in the hobby.

Check Your Boat Radio Controls
Flooded Engine
Grease the Flex Cable
About Fuels and Carburetors
Check the Glow Plug
Engine Tuning Sounds

Q: Can I use regular unleaded gasoline to power my model boat?

A: If it includes a gasoline engine, then by all means, yes (just remember to add a little oil!). But if your boat is designed for glow power, you'll want to use glow fuel, which is generally a mixture of methanol, nitromethane and oil. If you use the wrong kind of fuel, it can damage your engine.

Q: What if my boat stalls in the middle of a lake?

A: Either wait patiently for wind currents to return the boat to shore, or attach a tennis ball to the end of a fishing rod to retrieve it. Never, ever attempt to swim after a stalled or capsized boat!

Q: I've always been told that electricity and water do not mix. Why is it that electric boats can operate safely?

A: The electronic components found in many electric boats are always protected against moisture in a waterproof radio box.
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