The middle tube on a pontoon boat does not in itself add speed. Only horsepower can do that. But the extra tube does add possibilities. Here’s a breakdown of how nine builders configure theirs, and how well they work.
TT (AQUA PATIO)
What It Is: Middle tube is 27 inches in diameter, flanked by 25-inch outer tubes, with lifting strakes on the inside. Middle tube is slightly shorter to reduce overall weight.
Our Test: With a MerCruiser 350 Mag powering a 26-foot-8.5-inch 240 Elite, top speed was 44.1 mph; time to 30 mph was 9.2 seconds.
What It Is: The center tube is elliptical (wider than it is tall by seven inches), which closes the gap between it and the outer tubes. It also adds buoyancy, allowing for more horsepower.
Our Test: With a 350 hp Yamaha powering a 25-foot QXi, top speed was 47.4 mph; time to 30 mph was 5.8 seconds.
What It Is: A 36-inch-wide center tube with a taper into a flat planing surface on the bottom. That and lifting strakes on the outer tubes enhance the handling.
Our Test: With twin 300 hp Suzukis powering a 31-foot-long, 10-foot-wide Boundary Waters, top speed was 51 mph; time to 30 mph was 4.0 seconds.
What It Is: PlayCraft’s own version of lifting strakes is used on big U-shaped tubes to raise the front part of the tubes and dramatically reduce water friction on them.
Our Test: With twin MerCruiser 496 Mag HOs powering a 32-foot-long, 10-foot-wide Megatoon, top speed was 67.1 mph; time to 30 mph was 6.0 seconds.
What It Is: The 27-inch center tube is mounted 5.25 inches deeper than the 23-inch outers, allowing for banking in turns and improved maneuverability overall.
Our Test: With a 225 hp Yamaha powering a 22-foot X-plode, top speed was 49.3 mph; time to 30 mph was 7.7 seconds.
What It Is: Top two-thirds of the tube is round, but toward the bottom the shape cuts in and forms a V, reducing the amount of mass moving through the water.
Our Test: With a 200 hp Evinrude HO powering a 22-foot Signature, top speed was 45 mph; time to 30 mph was 5.7 seconds.
TRIFECTA (SOUTH BAY)
What It Is: The engineers haven’t tinkered too much with the success under the Odyssey name — angled lifting strakes and a radiused underbelly for hydrodynamics.
Our Test: With a MerCruiser 8.1-liter 496 Mag HO powering a 25-foot-9-inch 925 CTT, top speed was 58.5 mph; time to 30 mph was 6.7 seconds.
What It Is: Three U-shaped tubes, 23 inches at the top, 24 inches in the center and radiused toward the bottom, with strakes on both sides of the center tube, and on the inside of the outers.
Our Test: With a MerCruiser 5.0-liter MPI powering a 24-foot TriToon, top speed was 40 mph and the boat held 23 mph in a hard turn.
What It Is: All tubes are 26 inches in diameter, with performance strakes on both sides of the inner tube and on the inside of both outers. The middle tube is set back a bit to modify bow lift and help in turns.
Our Test: With a 200 hp Mercury Verado powering a 26-foot-11-inch Regency 25 XP3, top speed was close to 40 mph.