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Pro Boat Stiletto Review

06/30/2011 by Gary Katzer

Copyright:© 2011 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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      There are many different sorts of boats available from the folks at Pro Boat. If you're looking for a casual experience, you can hit the water with one of their great-looking sailboats. If you're looking to re-create a classic scale experience there's the Volere. But for those looking for the rush and thrill only the speed of a tunnel hull can deliver, there's the Pro Boat Stiletto. And, oh, does it ever deliver a thrill!

       The Stiletto brings the world of tunnel hulls to the world of RC in a fast and fun way. One of the major differences between a tunnel hull and other speedsters is the distinctive outboard motor design. Pro Boat has added this distinctiveness to its own lineup with the Stiletto, but there's more to the Stiletto than just a different motor setup. From the aggressive looks and styling, quality brushless electronics and more, the Stiletto provides you with a rush of adrenaline from the word go. Speaking of which, it's time we go to the water's edge.

Speed Specs
Part Numbers: PRB4000BD
Vehicle Class/Type: Tunnel Hull
Target Audience: Speed and performance boating fans
Completion Level: BND

      Setting up the Stiletto was relatively quick and painless. I bound the receiver to my Spektrum DX3C, set my endpoints and travel adjustments, and was ready to hit the water; at least electronically. Before I hit the local test lake, I needed to get a couple batteries charged up. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give the new Dynamite 2S 50C Platinum LiPos a try. They'd definitely be able to handle the current draw that the Stiletto's brushless motor system was about to ask for.
      Before hitting the water, I did take a few moments for some final prep. First off, I pulled the Stiletto's unique flex shaft out and applied a liberal helping of marine grease as described in the manual. This not only helps provide a better seal to keep water out, but it also reduces friction. The next step was to seal off the receiver compartment and battery tunnel with some Pro Boat Clear Flexible Tape. Much like the marine grease, the Clear Flexible Tape provides a further level of waterproofing and protection for your electronics and battery packs.

      From the first time I squeezed the trigger, I was caught a bit off-guard at how flat the Stiletto stayed. When it was on-plane, the nose wasn't that much higher than when the boat was sitting still. I debated adding some ballast to the tail or changing the angle of the outboard to raise the nose or drop the stern a bit at speed, but I was having too much fun to change the stock setup. Having more of the bow in the water translated into having a more aggressive steering response, especially at speed. It was an odd feeling really; normally with a car or truck greater speed yields less steering. The Stiletto was the exact opposite; the faster I drove into turns, the more the boat turned. It took some getting used to but it was a fun experience to come screaming up to the marker buoy, crank the wheel and carve around the apex of the turn. It was pretty dialed. While the lake was relatively calm on the day we filmed, I have taken the Stiletto out on rougher waters since. As would be expected with a boat that has a super-flat bottom like this, one tends to get bounced around a little more as things get choppy. Admittedly, the Stiletto will be faster and a bit easier to handle when waters are calmer, but it can more than hold its own when things are less than perfect.

      One side-benefit of the outboard motor design is the fact that the steering is amazingly responsive and crisp. I was able to turn around in very tight circles or change directions at minimal throttle without issue. Not that you'll be at low-speed often with the Stiletto, but it's great to know that that you don't lose maneuverability if and when you need to come into shore or steer around some obstacle in the water.

      The Stiletto gets up and boogies quite well and you're not going to want anything to get in your way. While I never rolled the boat, it is possible to submarine it if you give it too much input at high speed. By that I mean I was able to take the entire boat under water if I turned hard in one direction, then another. At speed it could (and often would) bury the inside corner of the bow in the water and the rest of the hull would follow shortly behind it. It was no big deal thanks to my preparation before running, but you won't want to make this a regular occurrence. I ended up turning the steering throw down on the transmitter, which helped considerably. Another thing that could help would be to add some ballast or change the angle of the prop, which I also mentioned earlier.

Out-of-the-Box Setup
      This is a fun boat through-and-through and much of the reason why it is so fun is that it's so well-equipped from the box. The stock electronics package just works. I never had a single hiccup, sputter, stutter or problem with the stock ESC, motor or receiver. We ran back-to-back runs as long as we could and the boat just came back looking for more. The stock ESC ran cool all day, even with ambient temperatures in the upper 80's. I wasn't able to get a temperature on the motor since it was encased in the faux outboard, but when checking the temp of the outboard, I found it was never even warm to the touch. That told me that the case/chassis of the outboard was doing a good job to act as a heat sink and the water flowing around the outboard kept temps in check.
      As I mentioned, I think the Stiletto could benefit from either some additional ballast towards the rear of the hull or changing the angle of the prop ever so slightly. The main thing would be to prevent the bow from digging in on fast cornering. Something you can do quickly and easily to reduce this from being an issue is to reduce the overall steering throw output by your transmitter. By altering how you enter a corner (throttle-wise), you can dramatically change the attitude of the boat while cornering. If you lift early, get the boat turned and then hit the gas and the Stiletto will follow along quite happily. The main thing to keep in mind is that a tunnel hull does have different handling and performance characteristics than a deep-v or catamaran.

      Combine its unique hull design with the performance and speed you'll find with the Stiletto and you get a design that makes a huge splash into the boating world; and it's a boatload of fun (puns not intended). I was instantly impressed with the responsiveness of the throttle and steering of this design. The Stiletto is incredibly maneuverable, more so than you may initially expect, and is a hot rod to boot. The overall quality, fit and finish lives up to the reputation that all Pro Boat models have had up to this point. The Stiletto looks great on the water too, which doesn't hurt. I know I'm looking forward to getting more time behind the wheel of this bad boy and walking on the water in-style.