After taking a little while to get to know the Fountain 35 Lightning/ICBM, I ran it up to 106.1 mph at 5200 rpm. I felt quite comfortable at those speeds, but it wasn't until I returned to the docks that I realized why. Fountain Powerboats put a raised throttle box on the dash, which places the levers closer to the driver. That's important when you're working the sticks in rough water.
Anyone with some go-fast performance could run this boat right up to 90 mph. The boat feels solid and stable. When you're looking to top the century mark, you need to know what you're doing. Remember, this boat has a built-in 2'-long swim platform as well as a 1' to 2' bow extension, so you're actually running those 1,000 ponies in a 31' boat. The key word to getting the most out of the 35' Lightning/ICBM is subtlety. Barely turning the wheel corrects your course. Just a tap on the trim buttons makes a big difference.
To get the boat on plane quickly, the bottom features a unique mini-strake close to the V on each side of the bow. Once you're running 50 mph, slam the throttles - you hit 70 in 8.4 seconds. Do the same at 60 mph and you'll hit 80 in 9.2 seconds.
Put the 35 Lightning/ICBM into turns and the boat handles smoothly, acing slalom passes right up to 60 mph. In circles, it carved arcs at 70 with no problem. I made evasive maneuvers at 80 mph plus and maintained total control.
Like all new Fountain sportboats, the 35 Lightning/ICBM has staggered engines, which put the drives about 1'4" closer together than they'd be in a boat with side-by-side engines. That positioning reduces hydrodynamic drag. The boat was also equipped with SportMaster 2" shorter-than-stock lower units on the Bravo XR drives and Hering propellers, which are good for at least 2 mph on their own.
For competitors, check out Donzi's 35 ZR, which hit 93.2 mph in my test in the inaugural issue of SpeedBoat (January 2005) and retails for $300,196 with twin HP525 EFIs and Bravo One XRs with SportMaster lower units and ITS. Pay extra for staggered engines and the top speed should move up to 95 mph. Both the Donzi and Fountain are twin-stepped designs with narrow keelpads, whereas the Velocity SS 360 runs on a wider pad, nonstepped bottom. With an identical staggered power package to the Fountain, plus the Integrated Transom System, which includes hydraulic steering, SportMasters, and Hering props, it runs an estimated 99 mph and retails for $323,000. Both the Donzi and Velocity have longer running surfaces.