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Fountain 47 Lightning Boat Test

Iconic Marine Group’s revival of a classic.

October 26, 2020
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Fountain 47 Lightning screaming across the water
LOA: 47’3″ | Beam: 9’0″ | Draft (max): 2’11” | Displacement (approx.): 17,500 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 22 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 5’6″ | Max Cabin Headroom: 5’6″ | Fuel Capacity: 297 gal. | Freshwater Capacity: 25 gal. | Max Horsepower: 3,100 | Available Power: Twin Mercury Racing sterndrives up to 1,550 hp each Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

Well, thank goodness Reggie saved the molds. For the first time in more than a decade, a brand-new Fountain 47 Lightning has been launched, and it’s a fire-breathing beauty. Right now, the world could use the excitement a proper speedboat brings to the water, so we are lucky the tooling for this classic model survived the recession-induced closure of Fountain Powerboats and the brand’s revival under the umbrella of the Iconic Marine Group.

A pair of real Fountain aficionados commissioned this $1.2 million boat (including paint and trailer). The owner and his wife, who operate a specialty construction outfit in the New York City area and boat on Long Island Sound, owned a Fountain 35 Lightning and a 38 Lightning before buying a pre-owned 2009-model 47 Lightning—Fountain passion runs deep. In fact, the owner showed me a picture from 1985 of his teenage head poking out of the foredeck hatch of his father’s Fountain 10 Meter.

Fountain 47 Lightning helm
A single ­Garmin 8616 display rests in front of the black-and-chrome wheel. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

“We love speed, but we’ve always found the Fountain boats to also be safe and reliable,” says the owner, who was on hand for this boat test but prefers to stay anonymous. “We use our Fountains for family pleasure, and we wanted the new boat to seat seven because my daughter often shows up with an entourage, and it has to have a cabin so my wife can entertain. I wanted the latest technology and the most power available.”

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Fountain 47 Lightning cockpit seating
The cockpit features a three-wide seat aft. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

And so he called Iconic and asked if it would be possible to build a new 47 Lightning. This boat is the result. Introduced in 1997, the 47 Lightning features the twin-step Super Ventilated Positive Lift bottom with twin strakes, a 14-inch-deep notched transom, and a pad at the keel—and this classic Fountain design is unchanged. The hull is hand-laminated with quad-axial fiberglass and vinylester resin. Stringers and bulkheads are high-density Coosa composite. Hull and deck are joined with Crestomer 1152 adhesive and through-bolts, with the seam also glassed. Changes to the deck include a slight update to the windshield landing, a reshaped helm to accommodate glass displays, and a new design for the side-hull intake ports.

Fountain 47 Lightning cabin
The air-conditioned cabin is finished in white fiberglass and vinyl with black accents. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

The cockpit features four high-back seats with dropping bottom cushions, and a three-wide seat aft. The helm is up-to-date—none of the bright colors and anodized aluminum you see on older 47 Lightning models, and no traditional instruments. A single Garmin 8616 display rests in front of the black-and-chrome wheel flanked by a Mercury Vessel-View 502 display and Livorsi digital trim indicators. Mercury Digital Zero Effort controls are topped with Livorsi handles. To keep everyone on board informed, there’s a Garmin 8610 display in front of the port helm seat, and a VesselView 703 display in the back of each of the high-back seats. Audio entertainment is provided by an 800-watt JL Audio eight-speaker system and two 300-watt subwoofers.

Fountain 47 Lightning berth
A V-berth is located forward. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

The air-conditioned cabin is finished in white fiberglass and vinyl with black accents, a look that’s clean and classy. There’s a galley counter with sink and Isotherm fridge to port, while the head compartment with shower and sink is below the helm. Facing settees and a V-berth are located forward.

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Fountain 47 Lightning head
The head compartment with shower and sink is below the helm. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

Dual hatches cover the engine bay and its staggered twin Mercury Racing Dual Cal 1350/1550 engines. Expert rigging is evident throughout, and decking makes it easy to move around to inspect systems, which include a 5 kW Westerbeke gasoline-powered genset. LED lights and a pair of Garmin cameras keep an eye on the engine bay when the hatches are closed. Mandatory 91-octane fuel is carried in a pair of 100-gallon outboard tanks. A 97-gallon auxiliary tank can be used for the 112-octane race fuel required for operation at the 1,550 hp calibration.

In this category, Fountain takes on the 140 mph, 50-foot-1-inch Outerlimits SL-50 ($935,00 base price with Mercury Racing 1350/1550 power), which seats seven and notably weighs just 10,500 pounds, thanks to its post-cured E-glass and epoxy lamination schedule. If you prefer another legacy brand, the bespoke 125 mph, 51-foot-5-inch Cigarette Racing 151 ($1.5 million with Mercury Racing 1350 power and custom paint) has a 9-foot-6-inch beam and weighs 14,100 pounds, thanks in part to its carbon-fiber deck that also significantly lowers the boat’s center of gravity.

Running in 1,350 hp mode, Fountain’s factory captain coaxed our Fountain 47 to an average top speed of 117.5 mph on sticky water. The GPS log showed 125 mph runs on the light chop that the builder says favors this hull. Whether cruising at 80 mph or running wide-open, the Fountain feels rock-solid and confident on flat water.

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Fountain 47 Lightning engines
Outboard-powered performance boats run well, but nothing on the water can match the kick in the transom delivered by 2,700 foot-pounds of Mercury Racing sterndrive torque. Courtesy Iconic Marine Group/Fountain Powerboats

The owners have not run the boat with its engines set to the more powerful 1,550 hp mode, and admit that the Mercury Racing 1100 engines, which will run on the 89-octane fuel you can find at many Long Island fuel docks, might have been a more rational choice. So would a more basic paint job. Instead, they sent the boat to Visual Imagination in Peculiar, Missouri, and spent $100,000 on an intricate design topped with six hand-finished stages of clear coat. When you get to build your dream boat, dream hard.

High Points

  • Unrelenting Mercury Racing sterndrive power is intoxicating.
  • Fountain hull runs fast with steady, comfortable confidence.
  • It’s new—this power and technology is not available in a pre-owned, pre-recession version of this model.

Low Points

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  • The 1350 engines require 91-octane fuel to make peak power.
  • Head compartment is only 4 feet, 7 inches high, and has no port or vent.
  • Heavier—by up to 6,000 pounds—than more-current competitors.

Price: $958,000 (base with test power)

Available Power: Sterndrive

Fountain 47 Lightning performance data chart
Fountain 47 Lightning Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

How We Tested

Engines: Twin staggered Mercury Racing Dual Cal 1550/1350 engines/Mercury Racing M8 outdrives

Prop: Mercury Racing CNC Cleaver 17″ x 34″ 5-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.33:1

Fuel Load: 200 gal.

Crew Weight: 430 lb.

Iconic Marine Group/ Fountain Powerboats – Washington, North Carolina; fountainpowerboats.com

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