Go-Fast Boat Accidents

“Go-Fast Boats” are built for just that: speed.

They are small, fast vessels designed with long, narrow platforms and hulls that enable them to reach high speeds. These models essentially ride on top of the water, and are equipped with engines that allow them to reach incredible speeds – sometimes more than 100 mph.

Descendants of the “rum-runners” employed during the Prohibition era, they were first built to transfer rum alcohol from larger boats waiting outside U.S. territorial waters. Today, they are still sometimes used for illicit purposes (smuggling of drugs, illegal immigrants, etc.), but they also have equally legitimate and recreational uses as well.

At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our Fort Myers boat accident lawyers recognize that while the boats are designed to be handled at high rates of speed, it does not necessarily make the journey safe. Anytime a vessel’s speed increases, so too does the likelihood of a crash resulting in injury or death.

While the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does not indicate how many reportable accidents specifically involve go-fast boats, we do know more than half in a recent year (393 out of 736) involved open motorboats. Further, excessive speed was cited as the No. 2 primary cause of reportable boating accidents as assessed by reviewing authorities, accounting for 97 crashes. Speed is cited as a secondary or contributing cause in hundreds of other crashes.

Excessive speed is also cited as one of the top reasons for fatal boating accidents in Florida.

Construction of Go-Fast Boats

Most go-fast boats are built with fiberglass, with offshore racing hulls that are deep – usually ranging from 30 to 50 feet in length and narrow in beam.

Most of these vessels are also equipped with at least two powerful engines, sometimes more. Combined horsepower in these vessels is generally more than 1,000, which allows the typical model to travel at more than 80 knots in calm waters. Even when waters are rough or choppy, go-fast boats can generally still travel at around 50 knots. When waves reach five to seven feet (as is typical in the seas of the Caribbean), go-fast boats can generally maintain a speed of 25 knots.

They also have capabilities of cutting through bigger waves, but they must do so at a slower pace in order to be safe.

By and large, go-fast boats are not designed to carry more than five passengers. Many models carry less than that safely.

Go-Fast Boating Injuries

While go-fast boats make thousands of trips without major incident, they also have a well-deserved reputation for being involved in numerous serious accidents.

Some more recent examples include:

  • January 2007 – Four passengers were killed and one (age 16) survived with injury after a 33-foot Powerplay speedboat hit a wake, launched into the air and blew apart, instantly killing those aboard. An investigation would later indicate prior owners and/or dealers conducted work on the ship that may have compromised the integrity of the ship’s hull, causing the impact to be severe and deadly.
  • November 2010 – Two men were killed and two others hospitalized with critical injuries after a high-speed collision involving two go-fast boats in the Biscayne Channel, outside of Miami. Several passengers had been tossed overboard as a result of the crash. Officials noted while there is no speed limit in the open water outside controlled conditions, boat operators “have the responsibility to be very careful.”
  • November 2011 – Two offshore powerboat racers were killed in Key West after their catamaran went airborne at a high speed and crashed during the third lap of the first day of racing in the Key West World Championship. Officials estimated the boat was traveling at 130 mph.
  • March 2013 – a 42-foot go-fast speedboat carrying five people in the Santa Rosa Sound near Pensacola was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a wave and went airborne, causing the boat to shatter into pieces as it landed. The impact killed the boat owner/operator and badly injured four passengers.
  • June 2018 - A gofast boat was involved in a fatal accident with a jetski in Miami. 
In 2020, an increasing number of go-fast boats were on the waters off Southwest Florida, with authorities voicing the same concern for smaller, slower, less agile craft as they do for bicyclists and pedestrians on the road. These powerful boats are extremely expensive and often hard to insure. Operators owe a duty of care to other boaters to operate them in a safe, sober and effective manner at all times while sharing the water.

Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.

Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation

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