PHOTOS BY JOEL NAVARRO
A dose of serious horsepower makes Pro Boat's largest rig a raging party on the water
Yep, it's big. If you drive a Smart Car, you're going to need a trailer.
Pro Boat's new Rockstar 48 isn't just a pretty hull — there's a lot more underneath the canopy than you might think. For the readers of RC Car Action, Horizon Hobby's car brands are what garner the most attention — after all, Losi and TLR are responsible for some of the most exciting breakthroughs in new technology, as well as many of the fastest race cars on the planet. Horizon's watercraft division, Pro Boat, does the same for the marine RC world with products like their new Rockstar 48, one of the largest and fastest boats they've ever made. This big cat features several design traits inspired by the designers' experience with RC cars and trucks, and its powerplant is a water-cooled version of the engine that propels the awesome 5IVE-T large-scale short course truck. From its 2.4GHz radio with a push-button remote starter to the beefy steering linkage that would be right at home on any large land-going RC vehicle, the Rockstar 48 just might be the coolest boat we've ever seen.
Now that's a good-looking boat. Pro Boat made the hull slightly wider than scale for stability.
The Rockstar 48's hull is handmade of fiberglass for exceptionally light weight, and doesn't contain a single piece of wood — the engine mount, fuel tank, and radio box are all attached with mounts molded into place. The catamaran-style hull is based on the full-size off-shore racing boats, but was built taller to accept the engine and spark plug, and wider than scale in order to make the boat more stable when cornering at speed or traversing rough water. The canopy keys into the hull at the front and is fastened by two spring-loaded thumbscrews in the back that twist quickly into and out of place — which means no clips to lose in the water or sand. The canopy opening fits snugly in place with a heavy-duty seal, but features an overhead scoop with rearward vents to allow for additional engine cooling and proper airflow — which means that water can also get inside, especially if the boat is flipped, but the waterproof radio box will keep the electronics safe and dry. Two openings on the transom are where the exhaust. Water-cooling exits out the port side of the hull and not the transom. The officially licensed Rockstar Energy Drink livery is not a replica of any full-size boat, but the brilliant, bright yellow scheme really stands out against blue water, and the overall fit and finish of the hull looks fantastic.
Hull length: 48 in. (1219.2mm)
Overall length: 52.5 in. (1333.5mm)
Beam: 17.3 in. (440mm)
Weight: 20.2 lb. (9162g)
Hull material/type: Fiberglass catamaran
Drive system: Flex shaft
Prop: 70mm × 1.5 2-blade
Engine: Dynamite CY26cc water-cooled
Exhaust: Tuned pipe with silencer
Steering servo: Losi S901T 1/5-scale servo with metal gears (.14 sec./343 oz.-in.)
Transmitter & receiver: Spektrum DX2E V2 & SR410 4-channel DSMR Sport receiver
Requires: 87-octane (or higher) gasoline, 2-cycle oil, gasoline-approved dispensing container, battery charger
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
The big hull means there is plenty of room for the tuned pipe, gigantic fuel tank, huge engine, and roomy, sealed radio box.
The water-cooled Dynamite CY26cc engine is closely related to the engine found in the 5IVE-T, running on pre-mixed pump gasoline and relying on the spark of a plug for a smooth idle and reliable running. Your arms and shoulders should be happy to know that there's no pull-starter in sight — the Rockstar 48's engine pops to life remotely, thanks to the Remote Onboard Starting System (R.O.S.S.), which is similar to what's on the Losi TEN-T and TEN-SCTE nitro off-road trucks, only built larger to crank over the 26cc engine. The engine is fitted with a centrifugal clutch like what's used on land-going RC vehicles, which means that the prop won't spin at idle so that it's less likely to cause an accident if the engine is running when the boat is out of the water.
STEERING AND HARDWARE
The gold-anodized aluminum hardware is flex-free and looks terrific on the black hull. As important as tires are to a car's performance, the prop is everything to a boat. The Rockstar 48's 2-blade prop is the ideal pitch and size for the Dynamite engine's powerband.
Every aluminum piece on the boat, including the rudder and steering assembly, is anodized gold like the most trick of factory motocross bike accessories, and they look absolutely gorgeous. Built to be considerably more rugged and beefy than typical steering hardware for a boat of this size, the long and sharp rudder is where the water inlet for engine's water cooling system is located, while the inlet for the exhaust cooler is in the left sponson. A large-diameter linkage rod is tasked with yanking the rudder to the left and right, and its passageway through the hull is sealed off with a rubber boot. The hardware has to be tough to stop the rudder from deflecting under hard cornering, especially since there's a digital metal gear 1/5-scale servo with 343 oz.-in. of torque handling steering duties!
ON THE WATER
A bright and sunny day greeted us at the Paradise Point RC Boat Pond in San Diego, CA, for my maiden voyage with the Rockstar 48. I was accompanied by Pro Boat Product Development Specialist Kevin Hetmanski, who was just as eager as I was to get the boat into the water. Not only is the R.O.S.S. system tremendously convenient, it's also much safer than starting the boat on land and transferring it into the water with the engine running, even though the engine is fitted with a clutch. After walking into shin-deep water and giving the Rockstar 48 a small nudge to get it away from shore, all that's needed to start the boat is a quick press of the DX2E's R.O.S.S. button. The engine quickly fires up and emits a menacing grumble at idle — that big engine is not messing around! Once warmed up, a full-throttle launch from a standstill lifted the bow out of the water in what a car guy would describe as a “wheelie” before the catamaran hull settled on its sponsons. If it wasn't for the hearty song of the exhaust, the boat and the huge rooster tail sprayed in its wake would disappear out of sight surprisingly quick, easily eclipsing Pro Boat's claimed 40mph top speed. At full clip, the hull dances along the water with just the edges of the sponsons in contact — truly a sight to see!
The combination of the large rudder, heavy-duty linkage, and beefy steering servo makes for incredible steering response at almost any speed, and the wide hull keeps the boat stable when turning quickly. The Rockstar 48 carves corners in both directions, though like most RC boats, it turns a bit better at speed to the starboard side due to the rotation of the prop and the huge 1500cc starboard side-mounted fuel tank that's good for 45+ minutes of run time, though the handling does even out as the fuel level burns off. Although it's entertaining to loop several corners together and watch the boat weave through the water, it's more than agile enough to flip around 180 degrees quickly for another full-throttle pass back across the pond — and it never gets old! When I finally decided to bring the boat in for a quick break and a refill of the fuel tank, a quick tap of the R.O.S.S. button kills the engine, allowing it to coast safely and slowly back to shore.
Tons of power
Size makes speed and handling more impressive
Requires lots of running room
Open canopy would fill hull in case of rollover
BACK ON LAND
There's not much crossover between RC air, land, and sea enthusiasts, but a boat as exciting and as easy to operate as Pro Boat's Rockstar 48 transcends any amount of deeply ingrained prejudice toward any one favorite activity. A reliable, powerful, easy-to-tune engine that starts at the push of a button makes any vehicle fun, and the sights and sounds that accompany this brilliantly colored cat as it glides across the water will satisfy speed demons of all kinds. The Pro Boat Rockstar 48 will certainly become a favorite among avid boaters, and it's the perfect choice for any car guy.
Pro Boat proboatmodels.com