How to Choose Your First RC Boat – Tips for Beginners

By: Anry Sergeev | 25.05.2022, 15:51
How to Choose Your First RC Boat – Tips for Beginners

Tips for RC Boat Beginners

In the variety of radio-controlled boats and catamarans on offer, it is easy for a first-time captain to get confused. If you have no one to ask for advice, or if you are determined to figure it out on your own, here is a quick guide to choosing your first radio-controlled boat.

Criteria of Choice

Electric Motor: Brushed vs Brushless

Externally, the RC boats are very similar. The difference can be felt if you look inside.

If you choose a boat with a collector system (brushed), you will get a speed of 20 – 30 km/hour. Brushed motors are not durable and don’t get along well with lithium-polymer batteries (if you want to have one on board). The boat with a brushed motor is cheaper, but you”ll get bored after 2-3 water rides.

If the budget allows, pay attention to the boats with brushless system.

With a brushless boat you will get the speed  40-60 MPH (70-100 km/h)

If we talk about the brushless version, it is:

  • durability
  • power
  • use of modern LiPo batteries

These boats are recommended even for beginners. The only disadvantage is the price. But sometimes it is wiser to invest a little more money and spend on a worthwhile product.


Think of the future when you buy a boat: every radio-controlled vehicle requires regular maintenance. You’ll need, at the very least, to lubricate the shaft.

In general, when choosing a radio controlled boat, make sure that the central compartment where the main components are installed is large and easy to maintain. So you can get both hands in there and easily change or remove the desired part. Plus there should be some kind of seal around the entire edge to keep any water out.

There are some boats where the compartments are very small and getting to everything is extremely inconvenient, besides the batteries are limited in size. So you’ll be tied to a certain size of batteries, and that’s not advantageous in every way.

Spare Parts

When choosing an RC boat, pay attention to whether spare parts are sold for it and whether they are available at all. A radio-controlled boat is not a bench model. It will race, it will get into crashing situations, it will have broken parts.

If you bump well into something, you can damage the rudder, propeller, shaft, and if the kit doesn’t include additional parts, you need to have them available for purchase.

If possible and when the budget is not too limited, take a spare propeller and shaft at once. That should be enough for the first time.

Mono Boat or Catamaran?

If you are a beginner and buy a brushed boat, it is preferable to choose a catamaran. These are more steady boats.

But there is a disadvantage. A catamaran has a larger turning radius than a mono boat. That’s why if you’re planning to race and have a full off, you’d better take a boat – it’s more maneuverable. Yes, the boat is more maneuverable, but there’s a big risk of rollover. And a catamaran is not so easy to roll over, it’s safer to ride.


Some boats have an auto stabilization system and it’s very cool and convenient – be sure to read the boat’s description.

2 types of auto stabilization system:

Floodable chamber. An empty chamber is located on one side of the boat. When the boat is flipped over, the chamber begins to fill with water and flips the vessel back to its normal position.

Rotating propeller. If the boat has fallen belly-up, the propeller begins to rotate in different directions alternately and thus tries to raise it “on its feet”.

Boats with auto-turnover can be recommended to absolutely everyone. There’s no need to swim after them, they return to the initial position by themselves. That is, you can sail in any weather and not be afraid of cold water

Level of Completion

There are several levels of completion of RC boats. Newbies often don’t look at the descriptions, and then get a boat they don’t know what to do with.


There are a lot of PNP (Plug-and-Play) versions of radio-controlled boats and catamarans, where the boat is not packed with batteries, chargers, controllers or receivers. This option is much cheaper, but you must have your own accessories to run the ship.


RTR or ARR (Ready-to-Race or Almost-Ready-to-Race) boats are ready to sail “right out of the box”. It comes with everything you need. Yes, the control system, battery and charger will be cheap, but they will be, which is significant for a beginner.


The KIT version is rare and only suitable for experienced hobbists.

A  piece of advice:  

When choosing a radio-controlled boat, don’t be lazy to watch video reviews. Looking outwardly many boats seem to be the same, but they all drive differently. It’s important to see it with your own eyes before you say, “Yes, I want one!”

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