Hull Block Measures

SL Ratio

A simple way to think of theoretical hull speed is that a vessel is limited by the wave it creates. That is, because it is a displacement vessel it doesn’t climb its bow wave as a planning vessel would. Going faster than the theoretical hull speed is possible but the wave moves under the transom so the boat has to plow through the water at an angle, bow up which then requires exponentially more power to move the vessel once theoretical hull speed is reached.

So a displacement boats theoretical hull speed is when the wave length is equal to the waterline length. The important thing here is the length of the wave is relative to the length of the boat.

The SL Ratio is a simple formula for calculating displacement hull speed which is typically 1.34

  • Velocity = (g * Length / 2 pi) ^ ½
  • g = acceleration of gravity (32.15 ft/sec ^2)
  • Convert ft./sec. to Knots and the result is 1.34 * L^½
  • Metric V(m/s) = 1.25* LWL^1/2

But of course, not all hulls are the same; depending on other factors like displacement and beam the boat may create a larger or smaller bow wave in proportion to its length. Heavier displacement vessels will have difficulty getting over 1.1 times the theoretical hull speed whereas vessels with lighter displacement and slimmer hulls like catamarans will have less trouble.
David Gerr’s propeller handbook is an excellent reference with some extensions to this formula.


Boat Hull

Boat Hull Types :

Power Required Calculator, Semi-Displacement Hull

Enter both values Desired Speed and Displacement speed. These are used in Wymans formula to calculate estimated power required for the vessel.


See Hull Displacement definition.

Desired Speed

This is the maximum speed that you require. Note, there are other factors, such as safety, not covered by this calculation that would limit desired speed. Contact the designer manufacturer to find out what the vessels maximum SL Ratio is.

Power Required Results

The results show the estimated required power at the shaft. Note that engines are rated differently for inboard diesels. For example SHP is approximately 95% of BHP due to losses in the transmission, to ancillaries etc.

Power Required Chart

This shows the SHP required for a % of hull speed.

Also see:

Boat Hull

Hull Speed Calculator, LWL

Select your preferred form of measurement, feet or meters and enter your boats LWL.

Length at waterline, LWL

Sometimes referred to as, waterline length or LWL. This is the length of the vessels hull, from center fore to center aft at the level of the water. This is usually given by the manufacturer and is the primary factor in determining hull speed. There may be a large variations between the vessels overall length LOA and the waterline length due to overhang i.e. the LWL may well be quite a bit less than the LOA. For example older sail boats had traditionally larger overhangs at the bow.


Boat Hull

The shape of the run

Skipping stones gives us a first good look at a planing hull. First off a good skipping stone should be flat so that it can skim (plan) over the water at high speed, secondly it’s got to be small/light enough so that you can throw it fast enough to allow it to skim. If that stone isn’t the right shape or don’t throw it right I’ll break the surface and slow down rapidly. These two characteristics apply to the planing hull. The shape of the hull’s run needs to be flat to be conducive to planing (skimming) and the power to weight ratio needs to be sufficient to get it up on plan. For the usual planing and Semi-Displacement Hull. , determining the quarter beam buttock angle is a way to estimate the speed the hull can attain relative to its length. The quarter as measured from the center of the transom a quarter of the beam.

See David Gerr's propeller handbook for an illustration and details on how to measure this.

The maximum SL Ratio ,provided by David Gerr in his propeller handbook, as determined by quarter beam buttock angle: Planing boats SL Ratio of 2.5 or higher, Buttock angle of 2 degrees or less Semi-Displacement boats SL Ratio of 1.5 to 2.5, Buttock angle of 3 to 6 degrees. Displacement boats SL Ratio of 1.5 or less, Buttock angle of 7 degrees or more.


Boat Hull