Engines for Yachts with Displacement Hulls

The basis of the following guide is that the maximum theoretical displacement hull speed is to be achieved by a clean and polished hull in calm sea with no windage.

Racing yachts for example may wish to opt for smaller, lighter engines with more limited horse power as the engine is primarily only used to reach or leave moorings and is not required to achieve maximum theoretical hull speed. Propellers will be selected that deliver the least amount of drag when under sail rather than optimum efficiency when under power.

A motor sailor or yacht used in heavier seas and or stronger tides may often opt for an engine with up to 30% more power to ensure an adequate safety factor is available and easily be capable of achieving maximum theoretical hull speed in harsher conditions. Propellers will be selected for high efficiency when under power and drag when under sail is not such a primary consideration.

Engine power, speed (RPM), transmission reduction ratio, propeller diameter and pitch are all variables that will affect a displacement hulls performance and as a consequence is a specialist subject that for new builds, the vessels designer should be consulted.

For vessels which require repowering, there are existing guidelines and or parameters that are already in place to help in making the correct replacement engine choice. The existing engine, transmission reduction ratio and propeller performance compared to theoretical maximum hull speed for the vessel will be a good indicator on whether it can be improved or not.

Additional there may be some pre-set parameters such as the distance between the centre line of the vessels propeller shaft and the hull that may or may not allow a larger more efficient propeller to be used. If the propeller`s diameter is restricted, this can in part be compensated for by changing the propeller pitch, but there are limitations. For more detailed information on propellers visit Propeller Guidance.

Displacement Hulls

Beta Marine USA specializes in propulsion engines for use in; Seagoing Yachts, Motorsailors, Fishing & Work Boats, Inland Waterway Dutch Barges and Narrowboats.

A displacement hull will displace its own ‘Total Laden Weight’* in the water, when it moves it has to displace and push an equal amount of water out of the way. As the vessel increases speed it has to push through more water in less time which increases the size of the wave building at the bow

*The ‘Total Laden Weight’ will include all fuel, provisions and crew / passengers.

Additionally as you approach the maximum design speed of the hull, the wave will grow so the crest remains at the bow and the stern wave comes up under the counter. At this point the vessel effectively digs a large whole in the water which traps the hull at the bow by a very large wave it can neither push through nor plan over.

Beta Marine USA - marine diesel propulsion engines - maximum displacement hull speed

Heavy seas and or tides can also impact a displacement hulls ability to reach maximum speed.

The following example highlights the speed to power ratio required for a 25 foot yacht.

Approximate Boat Speed for a 25 Foot YachtApproximate HP Required
4 Knots4.2
5 Knots4.4
6 Knots4.8
6.5 Knots (Maximum Hull Speed)10.0

If absolute maximum hull speed is not a priority the above also highlights a significantly reduced power requirement and corresponding fuel saving is available for cruising at 6 knots.

Beta Marine USA - marine diesel propulsion engines - displacement hull waterline length
  • A general engine guideline for yachts with a displacement hull is the weight in tonne multiplied by 4 hp.
  • Theoretical maximum displacement hull speed in Knots = 1.3 (or 1.4 for a sleek hull) x √ Water Line length (in feet).
EnginePower (HP)Yacht Displacement
Weight in Tonnes
LWL in Feet
(Water Line Length)
Beta 1010 bhp @ 3,000 rpm1 - 222 - 24
Beta 1413.5 bhp @ 3,600 rpm2 - 3.524 - 26
Beta 1616 bhp @ 3,600 rpm3 - 425 - 28
Beta 2020 bhp @ 3,600 rpm4 - 526 - 32
Beta 2525 bhp @ 3,600 rpm5 - 627 - 34
Beta 3030 bhp @ 3,600 rpm6 - 732 - 36
Beta 3535 bhp @ 2,800 rpm8 - 936 - 38
Beta 3838 bhp @ 3,600 rpm9 - 1037 - 39
Beta 45T45 bhp @ 3,000 rpm9 - 1138 - 40
Beta 4343 bhp @ 2,800 rpm10 - 1238 - 42
Beta 5050 bhp @ 2,800 rpm12 - 1542 - 45
Beta 6056 bhp @ 2,700 rpm15 - 1743 - 46
Beta 62T62 bhp @ 2,800 rpm15 - 1743 - 46
Beta 70T70 bhp @ 2,800 rpm17 - 2244 - 47
Beta 7575 bhp @ 2,600 rpm17 - 2246 - 50
Beta 85T83 bhp @ 2,800 rpm21 - 2348 - 51
Beta 9090 bhp @ 2,600 rpm22 - 2450 - 52
Beta 90T90 bhp @ 2,600 rpm22 - 2450 - 52
Beta 105T98 bhp @ 2,600 rpm24 - 2651 - 53
Beta 115T115 hp @ 2,800 rpm25 - 2752 - 54

Beta Marine USA will not accept any responsibility or liability for an incorrect engine selection.