For the past two years under the ownership of Fred Ross, Fountain Powerboats has been on a path to reestablish itself as a premium sportboat brand. The journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but spend a little time in models such as a new-for-2020 47 Lightning powered by twin dual-calibration Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines and you realize just how far the Washington, N.C., company has come.
With its first new 47 Lightning sportboat in more than 10 years, Fountain Powerboats served notice that it is back in the V-bottom sportboat game in a big way (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Fountain Powerboats.
Let’s answer your first question immediately: Yesterday we ran the 47-footer with veteran offshore racer and Fountain employee Billy Moore to 120 mph with about 300 gallons of fuel in the tanks. Before we headed out, we checked the GPS recall and saw a top speed of 125 mph.
For the record, those speeds were achieved with the turbocharged engines running in 1,350-hp mode. It has yet to be run with the engines in their maximum 1,550-hp output capacity.
This actually was our second experience with the 47 Lightning, which boasts an impeccable paintjob from Mark Morris of Visual Imagination and is owned by a multi-time Fountain buyer in New York. In early November, John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine took us out in the boat in the Atlantic Ocean in Miami. In quartering seas, we comfortably ran it to 95 mph. Head-on seas forced us to slow to 80 mph, but in following seas Tomlinson was able to get back on it and run the boat—again comfortably—to 108 mph.
Now, let’s get to your second question: All in with the big power and killer graphics, the owner paid a high-six-figure price for the four-hard-back-bolster, three-person bench-seat beauty he ordered through Midwest dealer Big Thunder Marine. But cost was no object for the client, and he wanted the best Fountain had to offer. In doing so, he gave chief operating officer Jeff Harris and his devoted team the chance to show off a bit.
Fountain’s Billy Moore treated the speedonthewater.com editorial team to time on the water in the 47-footer on Tuesday.
And show off they did. As former Powerboat magazine editors long ago, we saw our share of Fountain offerings. They always were fast on supplied power and handled well. But when it came to fit and finish, there was room for improvement.
The 47 Lightning we enjoyed yesterday was the most finely crafted Fountain we’ve ever seen. The power-drop-out bolsters in the deep cockpit were ergonomically perfect and sturdy. SeaDek step pads were set in all the right places for access and entry into the deep cockpit—and to keep eager passengers from treading all over the neatly tailored upholstery.
The finish in the boat’s simple, spacious cabin that included an L-shaped lounge and a small galley was immaculate. Morris needed an excellent blank canvas for his deck and hull-side artwork, and Fountain delivered that, too.
More than delighted with the first 47 Lightning that the company has produced in 10 years, Ross believe it’s but one bell-weather—and there are more to come—of Fountain’s revival.
“I have the best team of guys out there,” he said. “It almost been like getting the band back together. We reached out to guys like Jeff Harris, Billy Moore and Mark Spencer who live and breathe Fountain. I couldn’t be happier.
“We don’t ever want to be second best,” he continued. “We don’t ever want to be not in the lead.”
Editor’s note: Look for a complete performance report on the Fountain 47 Lightning in the November/December issue of Speed On The Water digital magazine.