Make way for the Pro Boat Blackjack 42, one of the biggest and most powerful ready to run radio-controlled watercraft to hit a waterway near you. At nearly four-feet in length, the Blackjack 42 is considered by its manufacturer, Pro Boat, as a “large-scale” catamaran. One look at it in person and we can tell you that we wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. While we aren’t quite sure what the exact scale of this boat is, we do know that it is large. So large in fact that it easily looks like a full-sized boat when we ran it at our local lake.
The biggest difference about this boat compared to some other larger options from Pro Boat is that it is not made of fiberglass, but lighter weight polycarbonate. RC boat enthusiasts are known to have heated debates on which material makes the better boat. Our experience is with fiberglass boats but we wanted to keep an open mind with the Blackjack 42.
Right off the bat, we appreciated its lighter weight and the overall lack of fear of damaging it, such as loading it into a car. With our old fiberglass boats, we constantly worried about chipping it on any surface its gelcoat would come in contact with. This is no longer a concern with the polycarbonate boat.
READY TO SAIL
The Blackjack comes built and just about ready to run right out of the box. The only things needed are batteries and a charger. It features an impact resistant polycarbonate hull, which is unique in the RC boat world. Its hull is crafted of two-piece shoebox construction for extreme hull durability. According to Pro Boat, molded composite material is much more impact resistant than traditional fiberglass.
The hull is enclosed by a durable polycarbonate canopy, which is attached via aluminum thumbscrew hardware. The canopy forms a watertight seal that means no tape is necessary to retain the canopy on to the hull. We love that we can ditch taping the boat up before heading to the water. Swapping out batteries is much quicker thanks to the thumbscrews.
Driving and guiding the catamaran through the water is an aluminum propeller strut and rudder. Both the propeller and rudder are crafted from anodized aluminum for excellent water corrosion resistance. The rudder has a special break away feature that protects the hull from damage in case it strikes floating debris.
The 8S-rated Spektrum 160A High Voltage, water-cooled, Smart electronic speed controller comes installed to help power the boat’s Spektrum Marine 4685 4 Pole, water-cooled motor. This powerful motor is capable of producing up to 5.3 horsepower and hitting over 55 miles per hour according to Pro Boat. Now that’s some serious speed, especially on water.
Thanks to its included Spektrum DX3 Transmitter and waterproof SR6110AT 6-Channel Telemetry Receiver, the boat’s radio and other electronics are fully connected for an interference free operation with built-in telemetry. This may not be a big consideration on land where you can go grab a wayward vehicle, but on water, having a problem free bulletproof connection is essential. Spektrum’s Smart System of electronics promise not to leave you swimming out to grab your boat due to a transmission error.
Never wonder just how much more battery power you have left to go. Squeeze every drop of power out of it before returning to the dock thanks to Spektrum’s Smart System. Battery capacity is displayed on the transmitter when using Spektrum’s Smart LiPo batteries. Its included Smart Transmitter communicates with the included Smart ESC and Receiver to show you just how much of the boat’s remaining battery capacity is available. Again, this feature allows you to avoid the swim to grab it if the battery runs out on you.
Out for a swim
We took this behemoth out to our local lake to see just how powerful and efficient its combination of a 4-pole motor, dual 4S batteries and aluminum propeller strut was. We installed two 4S batteries, one on either side of the hull and installed the canopy. Having to only use thumbscrews to tighten it down was a strange feeling as we are used to using tape to make sure our boat’s internals were watertight. Not having to mess with tape was a pleasant experience for sure.
All powered up and in the water, we took Blackjack 42 out for some warm up passes. The large boat does require more space to maneuver but its rudder seemed up for it. We immediately noticed that the light weight of the boat made it act different than heaver fiberglass boats. As we became more accustomed to the way it moved, we began to amp up the speed. We never got it up to the 55-plus miles per hour speed, mainly due to the lake we were at. There were quite a few people around and we didn’t want to have an accident. With that said, we did draw plenty of attention. In fact, kids kept clamoring for drive time.
The boat is seriously quick, as expected. We did find it more challenging to maneuver at speed; due to its raw power we were afraid of flipping it. Chalk it up to our nerves and occasional wind gusts; it did sit in the water nice and stable when blasting by straight. Jumping on the throttle hard did raise the bow up quite a bit and make it dig in on its prop. The light feel on the front end when throttling at speed made us let off on the trigger to avoid wiping out. All in all, we were pleased with how the polycarbonate boat felt.
At one point our Spektrum controller started beeping, which was its way of telling us that the batteries were running down. We did the smart thing and listened to it and brought it back in. No swimming and fishing after it for us. In removing the canopy to do a battery swap, we did notice some evidence of water inside the hull. It wasn’t much at all but it is worth mentioning. A few dabs of a towel got the moisture dried up and we were ready for the next run.
From what we understand, there is no other boat in this size, with this much power that is offered at such a price. If you want some seriously powerful fun on the water and if size matters to you, the Blackjack 42 should be a serious contender for your consideration. It’s combined 8S capability and lightweight, yet durable polycarbonate hull mean that you’re in for a water-blasting good time. Next time someone challenges you to a water fight, you may want to pilot the Blackjack 42 to soak him or her with.
Text by James York
Images by Leigh Guarnieri